Corner of Rohnert Park Expressway and Stony Point Road, Rohnert Park, CA.
Rohnert Park is not really in my local community, but my family does bit of shopping in Rohnert Park and we drive through it often. This particular location could have a dramatic impact on my local community, though. The land in the middle distance of this shot is slated to become a Las Vegas style casino built by the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria. Imagine a large building with lots of blinking lights obscuring the view of the mountains in the background. For those that cherish open space the casino will be a horror. The cow pastures will be replaced with parking lots. The street I stood on to take this will likely be too busy for me feel safe standing on. Not that the view would be worth photographing if the casino gets built.
Most folks don’t want the casino, but with the casino the city will get a nice kick-back for fire and police service. I think there will also be money for schools and other organizations as well. The tribe says they have the right to develop the land, even though the local community is vehemently opposed to it. This impacts Petaluma because Petaluma is only 11 miles South, and between Rohnert Park and the greater San Francisco Bay Area. Basically, everyone coming from all points South and East will have to drive through Petaluma to get to the casino. The casino would be about 45-60 minutes from San Francisco. Well, not considering the extra traffic that will no doubt clog Highway 101.
Another concern for Petaluma is that another tribe has bought land on the southern edge of Petaluma. The tribe claims they have no plans for a casino, but residents don’t believe them. Just because they don’t have plans today doesn’t mean they won’t in the near future. If the casino gets built in Rohnert Park, Petaluma will be next. The goal of the casino developers is to buy land as close to the Bay Area as possible while paying the lowest prices. Petaluma is not cheap, but it’s not as much as Marin County or the South Bay. Our suburban town with a history in farming and agriculture will be transformed into a gambling destination. I don’t care how much money comes to the city or county, it’s not worth it. How much is your soul worth? More than a couple of casinos.
The Stop the Casino 101 Coalition has more information on how the casino will impact Sonoma County. The City of Rohnert Park also has information including environmental impact statements regarding the development.