Lizzie Johnson is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer
Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill Tuesday that green-lights plans by the Wilton Rancheria Miwok tribe to build a large casino near Sacramento.
The bill, AB1606, ratifies a tribal-state gaming compact between the Wilton Rancheria and the state that allows the tribe to turn a 36-acre patch of tribal land in Elk Grove along Highway 99 in Sacramento County into a sprawling casino resort.
Plans call for a 608,756-square-foot facility that includes a 12-story 302-room hotel, pool, spa, convention center, six restaurants and bars, and a 110,260-square-foot gaming floor.
The Wilton Rancheria tribe has struggled for decades. Many of its members were murdered during the violence against indigenous people that swept through the Sacramento Valley in the 1800s. The tribe’s federal recognition was also stripped in 1958 and was not restored until 2009.
Brown’s approval on Tuesday is considered a win by many. The casino project will create 1,600 construction jobs and another 1,750 full-time jobs, according to state estimates. The Wilton Rancheria also agreed to invest more than $180 million over the next 20 years to improve traffic, invest in schools and increase public safety.
“For the tribe, the compact marks a big step toward providing the level of independence and support its more than 750 members deserve,” said Assemblyman Jim Cooper, D-Elk Grove, who authored the bill. “The project will mean scholarships, health care, housing and other benefits for a tribe with an unemployment rate above 60 percent, a median income well below the poverty line and college graduation rate near 14 percent.
The agreement will help make “a destination resort,” said Wilton Rancheria Chairman Raymond Hitchcock
“We look forward to continuing our work with the community of Elk Grove and the greater Sacramento region to ... help our tribe achieve self-sufficiency,” he said.