If plans presented by Chumash leadership to the Board of Supervisors late last month bear fruit, the tribe’s casino-resort could one day nearly triple in capacity. Tribal chairman Vincent Armenta wrote that 215 hotel rooms (in addition the the existing 106), 60,000 square feet of gaming space (in addition to the current 280,000 square feet), a 750-car parking garage (along with some of the 1,070 existing spots), and a potential buffet and food court are the “improvement projects” the tribe is considering adding to its reservation.
According to the tribe’s government affairs officer, Sam Cohen, the casino addition would move the third-floor poker room and non-smoking area to the second floor and open the third floor to dining. The plans don’t include requests for more gaming devices, as the tribe’s compact with the state — up for renewal in 2020 — doesn’t permit more than the current 2,000 machines. Several scenarios exist for the extra parking and hotel rooms, Cohen said. The 750-car garage could go at the southern edge of the resort, and the rooms could takeover the current valet parking area. Cohen said the plans are preliminary but that the tribe is in the process of looking for an architect.
As required by the compact, the plans will be subject to an environmental analysis and public meetings with neighbors and county officials. Cohen said that the plans are “unrelated” to the tribe’s desires to bring the 1,400-acre Camp 4 property into trust; that process was introduced in a federal congressional bill last October after the supervisors voted against annexation.
The plans have left 3rd District Supervisor Doreen Farr confused as to how the tribe can simultaneously expand yet claim they need Camp 4 for housing. “It doesn’t follow,” Farr said. “No matter who was going to propose a development or expansion of this size, it would raise a lot of concerns,” she said. “If it would move forward the way they are initially envisioning, it would have an enormous impact on the Valley.”
Armenta ended his letter by saying that when the hotel was built in 2004, it was “dramatically downsized” and that the tribe “did ourselves a disservice by building a hotel much smaller than the market dictated.”