By Miriam Raftery
Image: Rendering of proposed Jamul Casino Hotel and Event Center
October 10, 2022 (Jamul) – The Jamul Indian Village is proposing to expand its Jamul Casino to include a new event center, multi-purpose/bingo hall, a 225-room, 16-story hotel, and a six-story parking structure, with associated infrastructure.
The Jamul-Dulzura Community Planning Group will discuss the Tribal Environmental Impact Report on the proposed project this Tuesday, October 11 at 7:30 p.m.
The meeting, held virtually, can be accessed online starting at 7:20 p.m. at https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82400516671?pwd=b2ZJM3pzdmtRZ1p3WkdVZHZ5TFMzQT09 . To participate by phone use either 669-900-6833 or 346-248-7799. When directed, enter the meeting ID: 824 0051 6671, Password: 156353.
Construction is proposed to begin in December 2022 and is expected to take 18-24 months to complete. No expansion of the gaming floor or increase in the number of slot machines or table games is proposed.
The tribe originally proposed a high-rise casino before the current casino was built, but scaled back plans to a more modest height after objections from neighboring residents and County Supervisors. The tribe also modified the design to utilize natural materials and tuck much of the casino behind an embankment to minimize its impacts.
The casino has created over 1,000 permanent jobs since opening six years ago; if the new hotel and event center are built, they would provide many more employment opportunities and enhance economic prosperity of tribal members who once lived below the poverty level. The casino's recently added venue, The Rooftop, has proven popular as a location to host events ranging from corporation dinners to weddings. (Disclosure, ECM held an awards dinner at The Rooftop in 2021.) The casino also features several restaurants.
The proposed new highrise hotel, parking structure and event center are likely to raise concerns, however, among residents who previously voiced objections to the original casino due to traffic, noise, alcohol use by motorists, loss of views/rural character, and environmental concerns. Opponents circulated a petition with thousands of signatures opposing the original casino and fought unsuccessfully in court to block that project.
The tribe agreed to partially mitigate some issues on its initial casino project by widening/straightening sections of State Route 94, adding a traffic signal, providing environmental mitigation and building a fire station, among other measures. The tribe has also used casino revenues to donate to community causes to help developmentally disabled adults, the homeless, those battling addiction, and deported veterans, among other causes.
Several other gaming tribes in San Diego have built hotels on tribal lands including Barona, Sycuan and Viejas in East County, as well as other tribal business enterprises such as the Viejas Outlet Center and golf courses operated by Barona and Sycuan.
Because the proposed hotel and event center project is on tribal land, which is considered a sovereign nation, local governmental control is limited to matters such as allowing access off public roadways, though access to the casino is already built.
Community input is key to evaluate the environmental impact report, assess whether any impacts are excluded, and propose potential mitigation measures which might be implement if the project is ultimately built.
The public can learn more about the project at https://www.jamulteir.com/ , and can review the Draft TEIR at https://ceqanet.opr.ca.gov/2022050410/2 .
The public has until November 14 to submit comments at Admin@JamulTEIR.com .