Because the reservation sits on land unsuitable for commercial development, the Tribe knew it had no choice but to try to obtain off-reservation land for economic development, but it wanted to be careful to choose land that was as far away from other tribes’ gaming facilities as was reasonably possible to avoid creating hardships for other tribes. The Tribe was impressed by the City of Barstow when it reached out to the Tribe, and the City and Tribe began working together in 2002. After conducting due diligence, both the City and the Tribe concluded that development of an Indian gaming project in Barstow would serve the needs of both economically distressed communities, and serve to capture revenues that would otherwise flow to Las Vegas from the millions of California residents that pass through Barstow en route to Nevada. The City and the Tribe have developed a strong working relationship over the years, and the City has supported and continues to support the Los Coyotes Barstow application.
The City’s support is documented most clearly in the Municipal Services Agreement (MSA) between the Los Coyotes Band and the City of Barstow, which the parties originally entered in 2004. That document expresses the City’s support for the Tribe’s fee-to-trust application (pending environmental review), and specifically states that the “terms and conditions of this [Municipal Services] Agreement are designed and intended to evidence the goodwill and cooperation of the Tribe and the City in fostering a mutually respectful government-to-government relationship that will serve their mutual interests.”
In 2006, the Los Coyotes Band submitted its request that the Department take a 23-acre parcel of land in Barstow in trust and that it issue a Secretarial “two-part determination” that the land is eligible for gaming. Shortly after submitting its application, the Tribe entered into an amended MSA with the City, which evidences the City’s continued support for the project. After the City approved the amended MSA, the Mayor wrote a letter to the Department expressing his strong support for the project (there are several such letters of support). In addition, a ballot measure intended to block the Los Coyotes project was defeated by more than an eighty-to-twenty percent margin. In short, the City and the Tribe enjoy a strong working relationship and the City of Barstow’s support has been crucial.