The decision of whether land located along a portion of California State Route 99 in Elk Grove should be sold to the Wilton Rancheria Tribe for its proposed $400 million casino-resort could be decided by voters this summer, according to the Elk Grove Citizen.
Early in November 2016, opponents of the of the Wilton Rancheria Tribe’s casino resort proposal to be built in central Sacramento County held a petition drive for a ballot referendum to reverse the earlier decision by the Elk Grove City Council in favor of the casino. The decision released the Howard Hughes Corporation, which is in the process of building the Outlet Collection at Elk Grove mall on the parcel next to the casino site, from a previously arranged option agreement. That decision enabled the land to be put into Federal trust for the tribe; something that would not have been possible had the 36 acres remained encumbered.
In December last year, a Fair Political Practices Commission filing revealed that Knighted Ventures LLC is behind efforts to stop the plans for the casino. The company, located in Emeryville, has ties to a card room operator in Sacramento, California.
On November 21, some 14,800 signatures were submitted, far exceeding the 8,896 required to qualify the effort for the ballot in Elk Grove. The validity of the signatures, however, first needed to be verified by City Clerk Jason Lindgren. On January 6, Lindgren announced that 11,565 of the petition signatures had been verified, according to the news agency.
The matter is now in the hands of the Elk Grove City Council, which will decide whether or not to repeal their decision made on October 12 last year approving the land purchase or to hold a special election. The matter will be reviewed by the council at its January 11 meeting, according to the report.
The amendment enables the Hughes Corporation to sell 35.9-acre portion of property that was previously intended to be used for part of the mall to the tribe for its proposed casino-resort. However, as noted by Lindgren, the signature verification process continues the amendment’s suspension; a status the ordinance has remained in since November 21 when the petitions were submitted. Lindgren said, “Once that petition becomes certified (at the Jan. 11 council meeting), then that continues the suspension of the ordinance,” and, “Once the petition is certified, then the city is at the decision point about what to do next,” as reported by the news agency.
Lindgren also reportedly said that the council’s decision to either repeal the ordinance or call for a special election would “more than likely happen” during the council’s meeting on January 25.
The Wilton Rancheria casino would likely be a regional competitor of what are considered to be the most lucrative tribal gaming venues in the area, including the United Auburn Indian Community’s Thunder Valley Casino Resort and Red Hawk located outside of the town of Shingle Springs. Both of the casinos are within 40 miles or so of the Wilton Rancheria’s proposed casino, which would include a 12-story resort with 302 rooms, 2,000 gaming machines, 84 table games, and 30,000 square feet of event space.