JOURNEY TO RE-ESTABLISH A TRIBAL HOMELAND
In May 2009, Lytton took the first steps in reestablishing a tribal homeland by filing a fee-to-trust application with the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Through the federal process and environmental assessments, Lytton agreed to mitigate various impacts of the residential project. At the same time, the Tribe reached out directly to Town of Windsor governing bodies to plan for an increased population living in 147 new homes.
The Tribe intends to work with the Town of Windsor for possible water or sewer support for the tribal housing area since the development would be just outside the current Town water and sewer service boundaries.
WINDSOR FIRE DISTRICT
Lytton Rancheria entered into a 10-year Memorandum of Agreement with the Windsor Fire Protection District to provide emergency services to tribal members located in the proposed tribal housing area, which is within the District’s service area. Under the Agreement, the Windsor Fire Protection District will provide the initial response to all emergencies for fire, medical, rescue or other reported emergency reason.
In return for these services, the Tribe has agreed to make payments to the fire district including: $50,000 a year for equipment purchases and $80,000 a year for one full‐time firefighter. In addition, the Tribe has agreed to pay to the District, prior to the start of construction: $750 per each single family home, $525 per each multi‐family unit, and $340 per every 1,000 square feet of space for a community center and tribal retreat center. Once property is in trust status the Tribe has also agreed to pay the District on an escalating basis yearly. The beginning payment would be $25,000/year and increase up to $50,000/year for the term of the agreement. Further, the Tribe has agreed to provide additional funding if necessary in the case of an emergency such as terrorism, earthquake or unforeseen catastrophes.
The Tribe will comply with California Fire Code and Fire Safety Standards Ordinance during construction of all housing and tribal buildings. The Tribe will also be responsible for providing adequate water and pressure for firefighting.
WINDSOR UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT
Lytton Rancheria has entered into a Memorandum of Agreement with the Windsor Unified School District to prepare for and mitigate an increase in school aged children who would move into the proposed tribal housing. The Tribe has agreed to pay, based on the Environmental Assessment for the housing project, the amount of $1 million dollars. This amount is similar to the amount that would be owed to the School District if the land were developed by a non‐tribal entity.
AGREEMENT WITH SONOMA COUNTY
After years of discussion and negotiation, Lytton Rancheria and the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors agreed to and signed a binding Memorandum of Agreement (MOA). Both the Lytton Tribal Council and the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to support the agreement and potential legislation to take lands into trust for the Tribe.
The detailed Agreement with the County initially spans a term of a generation and covers almost every aspect of land management once the tribally‐owned land is taken into trust status. The entire MOA can be found here; a summary is found below.
An Environmental Assessment was prepared and submitted to the Bureau of Indian Affairs and circulated regarding the residential development area for tribal housing. The Bureau of Indian Affairs issued a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) on June 5, 2012. The MOA contains agreements for the mitigation of potential impacts from this, or any future, land being taken into trust status for Lytton Rancheria.
In the residential development area, the MOA contains agreements on how many units will be built, the size of the units and who can reside there. Some oak trees will be cut in the residential area, however the Tribe has marked and will protect the larger heritage trees, and is providing the County with funding to replace, on a 1 to 1 ratio, the smaller trees that are cut down.
The Tribe has agreed to strict environmental protection and mitigation efforts for the residential project, including the community and governmental facilities. The Tribe has also agreed that for a potential future lodging facility and winery, it will prepare an Environmental Impact Statement in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and negotiate with the County regarding off-reservation impacts. The Tribe waived its sovereign immunity in the MOA and agreed to binding arbitration if there is disagreement on mitigation.
Lytton Rancheria has agreed to provide compensation for substantial mitigation and other costs to the County. These include a onetime payment of $6 million dollars for mitigation of, among other things, County roads, native oaks, woodlands; and a onetime payment of $100,000 for costs incurred by the County to prepare and implement the MOA.
The Tribe has agreed to an in lieu payment to the County based on the valuation of the land as determined by the County Assessor’s Office. In addition the Tribe has agreed to pay to the County 9% of all rents collected by the Tribe on hotel rooms and vacation rentals.
FEDERAL LEGISLATION - HR 2538
After reaching an agreement with the County of Sonoma, and after waiting three years for the Bureau of Indian Affairs to take final action on the Tribe's trust application, Lytton decided to pursue trust land acquisition through an Act of Congress.
On May 15, 2015, Congressman Jared Huffman introduced HR 2538, the Lytton Rancheria Homelands Act of 2015. In addition to supporting the details of the Tribe's agreement with Sonoma County, this bill prohibited gaming on all Lytton trust lands noted in the bill.
On May 27, 2015, Governor Jerry Brown wrote a letter to Congressman Jared Huffman expressing his support for the Lytton Rancheria Homelands Act of 2015. In his letter he stated in part, “Lytton Rancheria and Sonoma County have concluded an Agreement that reflects a respectful relationship. The Act and Agreement provide the framework for mutually beneficial cooperative efforts that protect the Tribe’s sovereignty as well as the vital interests of Sonoma County residents.” In June 2015, Congressman Mike Thompson signed on as a co-sponsor of the bill. Letters of support for the bill from the Windsor Fire Protection District and the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors followed.
On June 17, 2015, the bill went before the House Natural Resources committee. Watch the hearing here and review the memo here.