Northern California Native American tribe's plan for resort, winery draws opposition

A casino-owning Native American tribe has plans for housing, a resort and a winery around a small Northern California town, and some locals are not happy.

Dozens of residents of the Sonoma County town of Windsor turned out at Wednesday night's city council meeting to demand the city oppose a pending bill in Congress, the Press Democrat of Santa Rosa reported (

The bill, introduced by U.S. Rep. Jared Huffman, would place more than 500 acres into federal trust for the Lytton Band of Pomo Indians to build almost 150 homes and a community center, the newspaper reported.

The tribe also plans a 200-room resort and 200,000-case winery.

Opponents say the project would increase traffic in their rural community and use up scarce water resources.

"It's not a good project. There will be ramifications for decades if this goes through," said attorney and local resident Steve Pabros.

The tribe, which owns a casino in San Pablo, says it is looking to establish a home base after the federal government illegally stripped it of its land in 1958.

Tribal officials say they want to be good neighbors and have donated more than $1 million to the school district and even more to the fire district to offset the new housing project's impacts, the Press Democrat reported.

Though the tribe has said it has no plans for a casino, Huffman's bill would explicitly prohibit that. The governor supports the measure.

The legislation was the outcome of an agreement about the project between the tribe and county in consultation with Windsor, Huffman said.

While the project might not be perfect in everyone's eyes, a casino on the land is something nobody would want, he said.

"I don't want to be part of any new casinos in Sonoma County," he said. "This is the only way to guarantee that."

Huffman plans additional conversations with the project's opponents.


Information from: The Santa Rosa Press Democrat,