WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE A FEDERALLY RECOGNIZED TRIBE?
A federally recognized tribe is an American Indian or Alaska Native tribal entity that is recognized as having a government-to-government relationship with the United States, with the responsibilities, powers, limitations, and obligations attached to that designation, and is eligible for funding and services from federal agencies.
DO INDIAN TRIBES HAVE DIFFERENT RIGHTS OR PRIVILEGES FROM NON-NATIVE AMERICANS?
Indian tribes have long been held to be distinct political communities that can exercise governmental sovereign powers. This inherent sovereignty of tribal governments is acknowledged in the United States Constitution, as well as treaties, legislative and judicial and administrative decisions.
WHY IS LAND ACQUISTION SO IMPORTANT TO TRIBES?
Land is essential for tribes in order for them to function as governments. Tribes need trust lands so that they can provide governmental services for their members, such as housing, health care, education, economic development, and also to protect historic, cultural and religious ties to land.
DO LOCAL OR STATE GOVERMENTS HAVE ANY CONTROL OF INDIAN LANDS AFTER BEING TAKEN INTO TRUST?
Once tribal lands are taken into federal trust, the land is subject to federal and tribal laws rather than local land use restrictions, zoning ordinances or taxing authority. Tribes are free to enter into memorandums of understanding or other legal agreements with local and state governments regarding the actions of the Tribe.
HOW WAS LYTTON RANCHERIA FORMED?
The Lytton Rancheria is a federally recognized Pomo Indian Tribe from Sonoma County whose ancestors were devastated by the Gold Rush and hostile State & Federal policies towards Indians in the 19th century. By the early 1900s, many Indians and tribes from the area that now makes up Sonoma County were poverty-stricken, landless and homeless. Congress therefore enacted appropriation legislation to allow the purchase of lands for many of these Indians and tribes. Lytton Rancheria was one such tribe that received reservation lands from these purchases, located in the Alexander Valley of Sonoma County. The Tribe resided and flourished on the land, sustaining itself through farming and ranching.
WHAT IS THE CALIFORNIA RANCHERIA TERMINATION ACT OF 1958?
With the passage of this act, dozens of California tribes were stripped of their federal recognition and Lytton's ties with the government were officially terminated in 1961. This resulted in the Tribe losing all of its Rancheria land, and once again, it became a homeless and landless tribe with no means of generating income or providing a homeland for its members.
WHAT IS THE SCOTTS VALLEY BAND OF POMO INDIANS OF THE SUGAR BOWL RANCHERIA, ET AL VS. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA ET AL CASE?
30 years after suffering the injustice of the California Rancheria Termination Act of 1958, Lytton joined two other California tribes in suing the federal government under the charge of illegal termination (Scotts Valley Band of Pomo Indians of the Sugar Bowl Rancheria, et al v. United States of America et al). A Federal Court decided in 1991 that the termination by the federal government was unlawful, and consequently, Lytton's federally recognized status was restored. But it was not without cost or compromise:
Lytton's original homeland, now owned by non-Indians, was not returned so they remained a landless tribe.
Lytton agreed to follow the County General Plan regarding lands within the former Rancheria and since their Rancheria land was no longer zoned or available for housing, the Tribe in effect agreed to never return to their original homeland.
Lytton was prohibited from pursuing gaming in Alexander Valley.
The County promised to assist Lytton in finding both suitable housing and economic development opportunities to put into federal trust.
DOES THE LYTTON TRIBE HAVE A CASINO?
Yes. The federal government holds 9.5 acres in trust in San Pablo (Contra Costa County) for Lytton, and the Tribe converted an existing card room into a Class II gaming facility. While this land provides economic support for the Tribe, it is not large enough to establish a tribal homeland with clearly delineated authority to provide services to its members.
HOW MANY PEOPLE DOES THE CASINO EMPLOY?
The San Pablo Casino employs approximately 550 employees who live in the area.
WHERE IS LYTTON'S ORIGINAL HOMELAND?
Lytton Rancheria's original homeland is in Alexander Valley in Sonoma County, California. As a result of a 1991 stipulated judgment, the Tribe cannot re-establish a reservation on their original rancheria.
DOES THE TRIBE HAVE ANY ECONOMIC INTERESTS OUTSIDE OF THE SAN PABLO CASINO?
The tribe has investments in viniculture, finance, office buildings and shopping centers.
The Tribe has also purchased a number of vineyards and is operating them in an environmentally-sensitive manner. Vineyards that were in various stages of disrepair prior to the Tribe’s purchase are now being put back into clean, healthy working order. Small tributaries of the Russian River that have long been clogged and unusable by fish are being cleaned out and made ready for use again. Additionally, the Tribe has installed wind machines to use during frost warnings to keep the grapes from freezing, rather than using overhead spray from the Russian River like many ranches in the area.
This innovative measure will save water from being taken from the Russian River at a vital time of the river’s flow. The Tribe’s investment in the ongoing viniculture operations has reinvigorated many previously deteriorating vineyards, and its grapes are being used to produce high‐quality wines. Lytton operates its vineyards on a fish‐friendly and sustainable basis, and is working towards sustainability certification pursuant to the practices of the Sonoma County Winegrape Commission and the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance.
IS THE TRIBE CHARITABLE?
Lytton Rancheria has prided itself in being a good neighbor to the communities surrounding its lands. For example, in San Pablo, the Tribe provides more than 50% of the City’s operating budget and donates to many local charities. For instance, the Tribe sponsors a yearly golf tournament to benefit the Brookside Foundation thus providing $100,000 a year for healthcare for an impoverished community. The Tribe has also donated $50,000 to the Boys and Girls Clubs of San Pablo. In addition, the Tribe contributes $25,000 a year to the Friendship House in San Francisco to help aid in drug and alcohol rehabilitation in the Bay Area.
The Tribe has given millions of dollars to local charities and organizations, including:
$400,000 to the Windsor Fire Protection District
$2.6 million to the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts
$100,000 to the Boys & Girls Club of Central Sonoma County
$100,000 to PDI Surgery Center in Windsor
$100,000 to Catholic Charities
$100,000 to Sonoma Academy (Scholarship Program)
$100,000 to the Charles M. Schulz Museum
$170,000 to the Sonoma County Historical Society
$300,000 to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
On the federal level, Lytton Rancheria does not accept any federal funding it is eligible for as a tribe except for Indian Health Service (IHS) funding, which it immediately turns over to the Sonoma Indian Health Clinic. This Clinic provides healthcare for all Indians, regardless of tribal affiliation, residing in Sonoma County. On top of its IHS funding, the Tribe also donates an additional $600,000 per year to the Sonoma Indian Health Clinic to use for expenses.
In addition to the significant community giving, Lytton has contributed $1,000,000 to the Windsor Unified School District in preparation of increased attendance resulting from the residential project. The Tribe will continue to partner with the community to support and invest in local causes.
WHAT IS LYTTON'S PLANNED RESIDENTIAL PROJECT?
In 2009, Lytton Rancheria filed a fee-to-trust application with the Bureau of Indian Affairs proposing development of 147 residential units (95 single-family detached houses, 24 cottage-style houses and 28 multi-family housing units), a Tribal community center, a roundhouse and a retreat. This homeland would be on lands west of Starr Road, east of Eastside Road and south of Windsor River Road outside of the Town of Windsor.
WHY DOESN'T LYTTON BUILD HOMES ON THEIR ORIGINAL HOMELAND?
As part of the 1991 Stipulated Judgment restoring Lytton's federally recognized status, the Tribe agreed to follow the County's General Plan regarding lands within the former Rancheria. Since their Rancheria land was no longer zoned or available for housing, the Tribe in effect agreed to never return to their original homeland.
WHY DOESN'T THE TRIBE BUY OR BUILD HOMES IN ESTABLISHED RESIDENTIAL AREAS INSTEAD OF BUILDING NEW HOMES ON TRUST LANDS?
The Tribe's goal is not simply to build homes or live in Sonoma County. The Tribe needs to establish a homeland. More than housing, a homeland reunites tribal members to live under one government, practice religion together, honor culture with one another and establish roots for generations to come. It's a process encouraged by the federal government, with Bureau of Indian Affairs director Michael Black reaffirming this position in June, stating "Homelands are essential to health, safety welfare and the welfare of tribal communities."
WHAT WILL THE TRIBE'S HOMES LOOK LIKE?
Lytton retained Williams & Paddon Architects to design the homes and community buildings for their homeland in Sonoma County. While preserving much of the rural nature of the land, a neighborhood site plan has been designed to provide buffers between tribal neighbors and residents outside of the homeland. View concept drawings here.
WILL THE TRIBE'S CONSTRUCTION FOLLOW CALIFORNIA BUILDING CODE?
All structures would meet design standards equivalent to the California Building Code (CBC) requirements for the site, including the seismic design criteria of the most recent edition of the Uniform Building Code (UBC) for Seismic Zone 4.
WITH MOST OF THE 124 ACRES LOCATED IN SONOMA COUNTY AND OUTSIDE OF THE TOWN OF WINDSOR'S URBAN GROWTH BOUNDARY, HOW WILL THE TRIBE PROVIDE WATER OR SEWER SERVICES TO TRIBAL HOMES AND COMMUNITY BUILDINGS?
Lytton's fee-to-trust application submitted to the Bureau of Indian Affairs specifies two alternatives for service of 147 homes. Alternative A is for 147 residences and community facilities receiving municipal services from the Town of Windsor. Alternative B allows for 147 residences and community facilities with onsite water supply and wastewater treatment.
DOES THE TOWN OF WINDSOR HAVE ENOUGH CAPACITY TO SERVE THE SEWER NEEDS OF THE TRIBE'S RESIDENTIAL PROJECT?
Yes. In addition to the analysis in the Environmental Assessment, the public systems (water supply and wastewater) were analyzed in connection with the Project and then detailed in several additional technical memorandums including the Lytton Residential Development System Capacity Assessment Revised Draft Report (Aug. 2012) and the Technical Memorandum – Final Draft, Lytton Springs Sewer Assessment (Aug. 2012). These additional technical analyses conclude that both systems, with additional improvements paid for by Tribe, have sufficient capacity to serve the Project.
WHAT IS THE TRIBE'S PLAN IF THEY DO NOT ACCESS MUNICIPAL SERVICES FROM THE TOWN OF WINDSOR?
The Tribe will access groundwater through their own well system and will construct a wastewater treatment facility.
IF NECESSARY, WHERE WOULD WASTEWATER TREATMENT FACILITIES BE BUILT?
The Tribe purchased parcels of land north of Windsor Road should they need to build a private wastewater treatment facility and once constructed, would hire an outside, private firm to manage and oversee it. These parcels are between Starr Road and Eastside Road, and are adjacent to the Deer Creek subdivision.
Should the Tribe hook up to the Town's services and no longer need to reserve this land for a wastewater treatment facility, the parcels would be earmarked for future homes to house tribal members.
HOW WILL THE PROJECT HANDLE WATER WHEN THE STATE IS EXPERIENCING DROUGHT CONDITIONS?
The Tribe has an interest in preserving and protecting our resources just like any other government. The project is located in an area of significant groundwater resources. Contrary to the shallow well systems serving surrounding homes, Lytton would explore sinking deep wells to avoid impacting on neighboring wells. Should the Tribe provide its own water supply through wells, it will be adopting its own water quality and usage laws standards which will be at least as stringent as the State’s.
WHAT EFFECT WILL THE TRIBE'S PROJECT HAVE ON TRAFFIC, ROADS, ECOSYSTEMS, SCHOOLS, ETC. ?
As part of the Tribe's fee-to-trust application with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, a comprehesive Environmental Assessment was performed and submitted. The federal government reviewed the impacts of twelve areas and determined mitigation responsibilites borne by Lytton. The Tribe agreed to pass a resolution requiring full compliance with all of the following mitigation measures. All mitigation that is necessary to reduce significant impacts to a less than significant level will be binding on the Tribe because it is subject to a Tribal resolution, intrinsic to the project, required by federal law, and/or required by agreements between the Tribe and local agencies. The construction contract for the Proposed Project will include applicable mitigation measures, and inspectors shall be retained during construction.
Through the federal goverment, Lytton agreed to fulfill all identified mitigation measures when the land goes into trust.
Additionally, the County of Sonoma suggested greater possible impacts and need for added mitigation. Through the negotiation process, Lytton agreed to further mitigation of the project which is detailed in Exhibit A of the Memorandum of Agreement.
The Tribe has entered into separate agreements with the Windsor Fire Protection District and the Windsor Unified School District to provide for mitigation of off-reservation impacts of its primarily housing development should the land be placed into trust by the federal government. The Windsor Fire Protection District currently receives $50,000 annually as part of a ten-year agreement in advance of responding to impacts from the Tribe's residential project. The Windsor Unified School District received $1,000,000 from Lytton in advance of absorbing any impacts in increased attendance of Lytton students.
The Town of Windsor may propose potential impacts and more mitigation measures. As shown above, should the Tribe consider review and response to any requests, Lytton will have mitigated the impacts of their residential project three times.
DOES THE TRIBE HAVE TO PAY PROPERTY TAXES?
No. Indian tribes operate as their own government, so they do not pay local property taxes. However, as part of the Memorandum of Agreement executed with the County, the Tribe agreed to pay the County annually 30% of 1% of the assessed market valuation (which is the same formula used to determine all Sonoma County resident property taxes). While Lytton has no legal obligation and the County has no tax authority over the Tribe, Lytton agreed to these payments which were calculated as if in lieu of property taxes.
HOW DO INDIAN RESERVATIONS RECEIVE LAW ENFORCEMENT SERVICES?
The Tribe's property will be served by Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department (SCSD) for law enforcement services.
The Tribe entered into a direct agreement with the Windsor Fire Protection District to provide fire and emergency support to the Tribe's residential project. Pursuant to the Cooperative Fire Protection Agreement between the BIA and State of California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire), CalFire could also provide fire protection and emergency medical services.
WAS THE COUNTY EVER IN OPPOSITION TO THE TRIBE TAKING LAND INTO FEDERAL TRUST?
From 2009 - 2012, the County opposed Lytton's original application to put land into trust to re-establish a tribal homeland. This opposition remained vigilant until the Bureau of Indian Affairs issued a Finding of No Signficant Impact (FONSI) in 2012, officially moving the application forward to the final step in the fee-to-trust process. At this time, both the County and the Tribe were open to finding common ground to address the County's concerns regarding off-reservation impacts while respecting Lytton's sovereignty.
The result was a Memorandum of Agreement reached in March 2015, covered by the Press Democrat, and an historical fact sheet was subsequenty released by the County.
THE AGREEMENT IDENTIFIES SPECIFIC PARCELS COVERING 511 ACRES OF LAND. WHAT DOES THE TRIBE INTEND TO DO WITH THAT LAND?
The Tribe intends to take all 511 acres into trust. 124 acres will still follow the site plans for homes, a retreat and community building serving tribal members, detailed in the original fee-to-trust application with the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The remaining 376 acres will be developed following both Windsor's General Plan for housing and the County's General Plan and Zoning Ordinances with one exception of a potential luxury resort/winery project sometime in the future.
THE TRIBE HAS APPROXIMATELY 270 MEMBERS. WHY DO THEY NEED SO MANY HOMES?
Lytton has approximately 270 adult members (those over age 18). As a lineal tribe, every Lytton child who graduates high school, turns 18 and completes a tribal educational training becomes a tribal member. As a result, the Tribe anticipates steady growth of the membership throughout the generations.
Current plans for residential development include 147 homes (95 single family homes, 24 cottages and 28 townhomes). While a hopeful start for re-establishing a homeland, not every member would have a home.
THE TRIBE HAS THE RIGHT TO PURSUE DEVELOPMENT OF A LUXURY RESORT/WINERY IN THE FUTURE. WHAT WILL BE THE IMPACT OF THAT?
If Lytton chooses to develop a luxury resort and/or winery, the Tribe agrees to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), as defined in National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), to determine the off-trust land impacts and the appropriate off trust land mitigations.
Additionally, commensurate with the scope of the project, the Tribe and the County shall meet and confer and agree upon a mutually-beneficial public benefit.
IF THE TRIBE BUILDS A RESORT, DO THEY HAVE TO PAY HOTEL TAXES?
Per the Memorandum of Agreement with the County, the Tribe shall pay to the County a fee in-lieu of the County transit occupancy tax in the amount of 9% of the rents collected on occupied hotel rooms and vacation rentals. Should the standard rate go up or down, the Tribe agrees to pay the same equivalent in-lieu tax.
THE AGREEMENT NOTES AN ADDITIONAL 800 ACRES OF LAND THAT COULD BE TAKEN INTO TRUST IN THE FUTURE WITH THE SUPPORT OF THE COUNTY. WHAT WILL THE TRIBE DO WITH THAT LAND?
If the Tribe purchases additional lands within the area identified in Exhibit C-1 and chooses to seek to place such lands into trust for the benefit of the Tribe either through legislation or the federal administrative process, the Tribe agrees to 1) conduct any environmental review that may be necessary according to National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) guidelines; and 2) comply with the Sonoma County General Plan and Zoning Ordinances.
THE SCOPE OF THIS AGREEMENT COULD EVENTUALLY COVER UP TO 1,300 ACRES. CAN THE TRIBE BUILD A CASINO ON THIS PROPERTY?
Per the County Agreement, Lytton is prohibited from any gaming or gaming activities on these lands for the duration of the agreement. However, in exchange for sewer services, the Tribe will offer a no-gaming zone in Sonoma County that spans north of Healdsburg and south of Santa Rosa as part of the ballot initiative for Windsor voters. This ‘no gaming zone’ will be in perpetuity and in addition to the restrictions contained in both the County Agreement and HR 2538.
SINCE THE TRIBE IS A SOVEREIGN GOVERNMENT, HOW IS THIS COUNTY AGREEMENT ENFORCEABLE?
The County acknowledged that Lytton is a federally recognized Indian tribe and, as such, possesses sovereign immunity from suit. However, in this Agreement, the Tribe expressly and irrevocably agreed to waive its immunity (and any related defenses) for the limited and sole purpose of compelling arbitration and of enforcing an arbitration decision rendered pursuant to the terms and conditions of the Agreement.
WHAT IS HR 2538?
Introduced in May 2015 by Congressman Jared Huffman, HR 2538 is the "Lytton Rancheria Homelands Act," a bill that would move Lytton property into trust through legislative action. Tribes can have land put into trust through an administrative process (Bureau of Indian Affairs) or a legislative process (Act of Congress). The Tribe began the process with the Bureau of Indian Affairs in 2009, and after six years, decided to pursue their only other legal option for acquiring trust lands.
WHO IS ON RECORD SUPPORTING HR 2538?
Congressman Jared Huffman is the sponsor of the bill, and has the support of co-sponsors Congressman Jeff Denham (R-CA-10) and Congressman Mike Thompson (D-CA-5). Additionally, HR 2538 has the public letter of support from the Windsor Fire Protection District, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors and Governor Jerry Brown.
HOW DOES HR 2538'S NON-GAMING PROVISION DIFFER FROM THE TRIBE'S AGREEMENT WITH THE COUNTY?
While the agreement with Sonoma County prohibited gaming for a period of 22 years, HR 2538 prohibits gaming in perpetuity on lands included in the legislation.