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Amador, County of v. Plymouth, City of

ELR Citation: 37 ELR 20087
Nos. No. C050066, (Cal. App. 3d Dist., 04/17/2007)

A California appellate court upheld the invalidation of a municipal services agreement between a Native American tribe and a city concerning the tribe's plan to build a gaming facility on land it has the option to purchase. The tribe applied to the U.S. Secretary of the Interior to take the land in trust. The city council voted to support the tribe's application, conditioned upon the adoption of the municipal services agreement, and sent a letter of support to the Secretary. The city, however, entered into the agreement without complying with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), thereby rendering the agreement and the city's support of the trust application invalid. Although neither the taking of lands in trust nor the development of the gaming facility require the formal approval of the city, the activities outlined in the agreement, which obligate the city to construct public works and to vacate a portion of a city road, do require its approval. These activities constitute a project within the scope of the CEQA, and the municipal service agreement constitutes an approval of that project. Hence, the agreement and the city's support of the trust application of the tribe are invalid.