Lytton Development: Changing Stories

Lytton Development: Changing Stories

2001: 50 acres, 50 houses
● Tribal housing development proposed by Lyttons.
● In their words:

  • Margie Mejia: “We’re just asking for our 50 acres back. I don’t think that’s unreasonable… Our goal is to be good neighbors. We never wanted a gaming facility near our homes.”1
  • Reporter Steve Hart: “The Pomo development conflicts with Sonoma County’s land­use regulations, which allow a maximum of 10 homes on the property.”

2002: 50 acres, 50 houses
● Land purchased by the Sonoma Entertainment Partners LP, the development company of Samuel Katz. Land promised to Lyttons if they are able to secure a casino.
● Local governments unite in opposition to housing project. In January, Sam Salmon urges county to abide by General Plan for any proposed developments outside of Windsor. In June, Board of Supervisors passes resolution urging tribe to follow General Plan. In November, Windsor Town Council passes resolution opposing project. 2
● In their words:

  • Town of Windsor: “Be it further resolved that the Town of Windsor will oppose any project on the subject property that is not developed in a manner consistent with the General Plan of Sonoma County or the Sonoma County fire safety, building, health and zoning codes, and/or that is inconsistent with the Town’s Urban Growth Boundary.” NB: This is very close to a direct quote of the 1991 3 agreement which stipulates that “after consideration of all local ordinances including (but not limited to) fire safety, building codes, health codes, and zoning requirements, the tribe will adopt standards that provide at least comparable safeguards.”
  • County of Sonoma: “BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that if the Tribe submits a trust application that is inconsistent with the General Plan, and where mitigation efforts can not be made to bring the proposed project within substantial compliance with the General Plan, the County shall use the most effective legal or regulatory means to oppose the application. As part of its opposition, the County shall communicate to the BIA the importance of the General Plan to the 1  2
  • County planning and development process and any problems identified in the Lytton application, including concerns related to its failure to comply with the General Plan.” 4
  • Reporter Sam Kennedy: “…county supervisors and Windsor Town Council members have asked the tribe to limit construction to 10 homes to comply with county land­use restrictions in the area. Their requests came at the urging of angry neighbors.” 5
2004: 50 acres, 50 houses
● Tribe refuses to talk to neighbors. Mejia declines Windsor Times interview request.
● In their words:
  • “We have tried to contact them,” said McCormick, “but their lawyer insists, ‘We only talk lawyer to lawyer or government to government.'”
  • “We’d love to sit down and talk with them,” said Crawford.” 6
2007: 50 acres, 50 houses
● After successful casino acquisition, land transferred from Sonoma Entertainment Partners LP to Lytton Rancheria.
● Additional lands purchased.


2009: 90 acres, 147 housing units + 3 community buildings
● Local governments remain opposed to growing development.
● January 26: “A group from WindsorWest meet with Paul Kelley, Sonoma County Supervisor. It was a productive meeting and Mr. Kelley stated that as soon as the Lytton’s file for Land in Trust, the County of Sonoma will file a lawsuit, because the Lytton’s concept is contrary to the County’s General Plan.” 7
● In May, Windsor Town Council voted 4­1 against tribe’s proposal, passing another resolution in opposition. This resolution directly cites the 1991 stipulation. 8
● In their words:
  • “Sonoma County Supervisor Paul Kelley, whose district includes Windsor, said Friday he has ‘significant concerns’ about the impacts of the development, including water and wastewater issues.” 9
  •  “Councilman Steve Allen said he would oppose development on the town’s periphery whether the proponents were ‘Vikings or Icelandic people.’” 10
  • “I can tell you unequivocally there will be no casino on this property,” said Doug Elmets, a spokesman for the 275­member tribe. “This property is strictly for a master­planned, community housing development for tribal members.” 11
  • “The tribe has approached Windsor for water and sewer service, but it appears unlikely to be granted. [Town Manager Matthew] Mullan said Windsor is not interested in extending utilities to the tribe’s properties, which lie outside the town’s voter­approved urban growth boundary.” 12
2011: 150 acres, 147 housing units + 3 community buildings
● In their words:
  • “Doug Elmets, a spokesman for the tribe, said Thursday that a casino has never been an option. ‘For the record, the tribe has repeatedly said they have absolutely no intent to build a casino, or to use the land for anything other than a master planned community for their members,’ he said. ‘The tribe is absolutely committed to being a good neighbor and working cooperatively with the Town of Windsor and neighboring communities. The project will be one that everyone will be proud of and will embrace,’ he asserted. ‘The fear of the unknown by the detractors of the tribe is far­fetched and mean­spirited.’” 13
  • “‘To say I have significant concerns related to this project is an understatement,’ said Mike McGuire, the county supervisor whose district includes the site. ‘The environmental review document that is currently in circulation . . . is completely inadequate.’ McGuire called the effluent pond ‘the type of lakefront property any individual would want to avoid at all costs. It’s unacceptable.’” 14
  • “Sonoma County officials say the impacts of a tribal housing project in Windsor are being downplayed and the number of homes is too high for the rural area. The housing and cultural center proposed by the Lytton Band of Pomo Indians is on the Board of Supervisors’ agenda today for discussion.” This is the last time the 15 Lytton development was on the Sonoma County public agenda.
2012: 150 acres, 147 housing units + 3 community buildings
● In their words:
  • Mike McGuire: “The County continues to have serious concerns about the negative impacts associated with this proposed project. Since 2009, the Bureau of Indian Affairs has declined to modify the project or impose new mitigation measures that would address the concerns of the County, The Town of Windsor and surrounding neighbors.” 16
  • Mike McGuire: “The County and the Town of Windsor have articulated very specific concerns related to the Tribe’s Environmental Assessment including the project’s inconsistency with the General Plan. It’s a dense, suburban­style development as proposed and it would never be allowed in the unincorporated area of the County of Sonoma.” 17
  • Mike McGuire: “Unfortunately, the Tribe has refused the County’s many attempts to sit down and talk directly and establish a government­to­government relationship. Instead, we’ve had discussions with the tribe’s attorney and consultants, but they have declined to modify the project or impose new mitigation measures that would address the concerns of local government and the neighbors.” 18
2013: 400 acres, 147 housing units + 3 community buildings
● In their words:
  • “Windsor residents, town and county officials have raised concerns over a myriad of environmental impacts from the housing project. That includes the tribe’s intent to build a sewer plant and wastewater treatment plant if Windsor won’t allow the preferred option of hooking up to the town municipal utilities.”19
  • “The tribe’s continuing acquisition of more properties in the Windsor area farther away from its planned housing site has at times puzzled observers and worried nearby residents… The tribe’s $5.7 million purchase last year of 122 acres at 7590 Starr Road, more than a mile southwest of its proposed housing site, is one that mystified and also worried some nearby residents.” 20
2015: 1,300 acres, 316 housing units, resort, restaurants, event centers, spa, shops, winery.
● March 9, 9:54PM: Possible deal between county and Lytton announced on Press Democrat website. Article went out in physical newspaper March 10.
● March 10, 8:30AM: Memorandum of agreement between county and Lytton approved.
● In their words: ○ James Gore: The agreement “provides assurances that all of the off­site impacts will be managed, all on­site development will be according to the general plan and up to code, and an assurance that there is a prohibition against gambling.” ….He said it is better to be in partnership with the tribe as it moves ahead with its plans “in a way that is appropriate for the area and the community, and the environmental effects and all those things are taken care of.” 22
  •  James Gore: North County Supervisor James Gore, whose district includes the property in question, applauded the agreement, which is to remain in place for 22 years and calls for the tribe to pay the county $6.1 million for one­time impacts, such as to county roads, parks and woodlands. “This is a big deal,” Gore said. “It’s also important to realize who has authority over what. The tribe has a sovereign right to work those lands.”
  • Windsor: “We’re discussing possible terms to provide sewer and water,” said Windsor Mayor Bruce Okrepkie. “We look forward to working with our neighbors to the west.”21
1 “Pomos Want Windsor Land,” Steve Hart, Press Democrat, July 2, 2001. Available online at­02.htm
2 “Council Wants Pomo Indian Project to adhere to General Plan,” Corey Young, Windsor Times, October 23, 2002.8
4 County of Sonoma Resolution 02­0655. Available at­11­02.htm
5 “Pomos’ Homes on Hold,” Sam Kennedy, Press Democrat, August 4, 2002.
6 “Lytton Pomos, Windsor Neighbors find communications difficult,” Bert Williams, Windsor Times, April 7, 2004.
16­rancheria­moving­forward/article_bfced198­b57 d­11e1­9540­0019bb2963f4.html
17­rancheria­moving­forward/article_bfced198­b57 d­11e1­9540­0019bb2963f4.html
18­rancheria­moving­forward/article_bfced198­b57 d­11e1­9540­0019bb2963f4.html
20­181/lytton­pomo­tribe­on­buying Closed session: potential initiation of litigation against Lytton Pomo.
21 http://sonoma­

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