A deal between the city of Temecula and the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians regarding its $285 million resort and casino expansion has been negotiated.
Approved last week by the Temecula City Council, the intergovernmental agreement includes the tribe covering the cost for an extra police officer and millions of dollars in road work. Negotiations were handled by Mayor Pro Tem Mike Naggar and Mayor Jeff Comerchero.
As a result of the collaboration, plans for a mine near the tribe’s casino were successfully defeated. The mine project was opposed by both the tribe and the city. In 2012 when the Pechanga purchased the land from the company in pursuit of a permit to begin operations, the project was shelved. The tribe’s action is recognized and celebrated by the city during the annual Pechanga Pu’eska Mountain Day.
Major points of the deal include the “all-in” cost of the extra police officer, which totals $289,000, and was requested by the city to help address increased traffic resulting from the expansion and the associated public safety impacts. Comerchero said, the cost includes the administrative costs as well as the officer’s salary and benefits, according to The Press Enterprise.
The agreement’s fine print includes language that allows for future collaboration between the tribe and the city to develop “further public safety resources and maintain appropriate levels of police services,” according to Comerchero. It leaves room for further discussions if necessary, which Naggar echoed. These types of agreements, such as the one between the Pechanga and the state, are necessary so that off-reservation environmental impacts resulting from major expansion projects can be properly handled. Concurrent discussion between the tribe and the county regarding separate agreements are ongoing, according to a statement from Tribal Chairman Mark Macarro on Tuesday.
A significant portion of the money allocated for roadwork will be used to reconfigure the Temecula Parkway off-ramp, a large handler of casino traffic flow. According to a council staff report, more than $14.4 million has been paid by the tribe for that project. In addition, the tribe will pay approximately $5 million to make Pechanga Parkway three lanes in both directions, and $125,000 will go towards future improvements of Temecula Parkway between Bedford Court and Pechanga Parkway.
The Pachanga Resort Casino expansion includes a “resort-style” pool complex that spans four acres, a 548-room hotel wing, and 67,000 square feet of free space for sporting events, conventions or concerts. Construction will also include a separate, two-story 23,000 square foot building featuring a salon, spa and a fitness center. A groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for next month.