County to consider case-by-case review of fee to trust proposal


The San Diego County Board of Supervisors will consider whether to replace the county’s automatic opposition of reservation fee to trust proposals with review on a case-by-case basis.

A 4-1 Board of Supervisors vote April 7 approved a continuance to May 4. Jim Desmond cast the dis­senting vote on the grounds that he wanted the changes approved on the original day. The April 6 Board of Supervisors meeting lasted until approximately 11:30 p.m., so Su­pervisor Nora Vargas was unable to address concerns which had been raised.

“This has waited too long,” Des­mond said.

The U.S. Bureau of Indian Af­fairs has a process to transfer land already owned by an Indian tribe into the reservation. In 1994 the Board of Supervisors approved a resolution to oppose all fee to trust applications by tribal governments in San Diego County. Although an Indian reservation is sovereign a reservation which desires to serve alcohol must obtain a liquor license from the state Alcoholic Beverage Commission, and in June 2001 the Board of Supervisors adopted crite­ria for liquor licenses on tribal land which exceed the requirements for similar establishments not on a res­ervation.

“We’re not hearing what they do and the merits of it,” Desmond said.

“It makes no sense at all,” said Rincon Band of Luiseno Indians tribal chair Bo Mazzetti.

“That does nothing but discrimi­nate against tribes,” said Jamul In­dian Village tribal chair Erica Pinto.

If the resolution passes May 4 the policies on fee to trust trans­fers and reservation liquor licenses would be repealed. County staff would analyze each fee to trust ap­plication and each liquor license application on a case-by-case basis, and county staff would also work with tribal governments and sur­rounding communities to minimize off-reservation impacts.

“It doesn’t give blanket approval to anything,” Desmond said.

We can still oppose projects we don’t like,” Desmond said. “All this does is remove the blanket no to everything.”

The likely May 4 action would al­so reinstate the county’s tribal liai­son position. In 2001 Chantal Saipe was selected to be the county’s trib­al liaison, but Saipe retired in 2009 and there is not currently such a position. The tribal liaison position would be responsible for interac­tion between tribal governments and county departments including social services and emergency ser­vices as well as land use and inter­governmental agreements.

“This new direction is something that is beneficial to the entire Coun­ty of San Diego,” Pinto said.

“I look forward to working with you and collaborating,” said Pau­ma Band of Luiseno Indians tribal chair Temet Aguilar.


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