Warning from Southern CA: “It used to be nice and quiet...We don't have any of that anymore"

June 26, 2013
Southern California has a message for Rohnert Park: Kiss goodbye to your quiet way of life in Sonoma County!

The Press Democrat’s Jeremy Hay recently traveled to the Inland Empire to check out the effects of casinos in Southern California. Gary Seipel, a retired Air Force officer, warned, “It used to be nice and quiet at night. We loved it; that’s why we lived here. We don’t have any of that anymore.”

Below is the part of the story that caught our eye:

Also, if the Graton Rancheria’s gambling palace opens (a lawsuit seeking to derail it goes to court Aug. 2), Sonoma County will have one casino for every 246,000 residents, while in the Inland Empire there is one major casino for every 477,000 residents.

“They have got the right to be concerned,” said Gary Seipel, 66, of San Bernardino, referring to Sonoma County residents who dread the Graton Resort & Casino’s coming.

Seipel, who lives within shouting distance of the San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino hall — which has 3,000 slot machines — moved to the neighborhood next to the tribe’s then-impoverished reservation in 1980.

The San Manuel in 1986 opened a bingo hall in a tent above a 20-acre foothill plateau called the Tahiti Parcel. The hall closed at 10 p.m. each night.

“That was successful and it was manageable,” said Seipel, a retired Air Force officer.

In 2005, after grading the Tahiti Parcel and prevailing against opponents, the tribe opened its 24-hour-a-day casino on land it bought at the edge of its reservation, on the main access road to surrounding neighborhoods, including Seipel’s. Its only concession was that alcohol would not be served before 5 p.m.

“It hasn’t been a happy experience,” said Seipel, who said traffic has increased nearly fourfold, to the point that there have been several fatal accidents and he no longer feels comfortable riding his bicycle nearby.

“The amount of thefts went up. We’ve had people park outside our house — the professional ladies — we find drug paraphernalia in the street, condoms at the curb,” he said, pointing out the two locks on his mailbox.

“It used to be nice and quiet at night. We loved it; that’s why we lived here. We don’t have any of that anymore,” he said.