In a rapid reversal of its decision a month ago, the Marina City Council voted not to adopt proposed amendments regarding card rooms in the city, following pressure from citizens.
That means development of a proposed new card room — Parkwest Casino Marina — is stalled. For now, at least.
Marina Mayor Bruce Delgado admitted he and the council had jumped the gun by voting to adopt rules in January that would allowed the new card room in the in the oceanfront city south of San Jose.
As many concerned citizens pointed out at a hearing last week, the Marina Municipal Code does not allow for such decisions to be made at a single meeting of the council. There must be multiple hearings and time for public comment. City ordinances require two readings of changes at two separate council meetings before a vote can be called.
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This month’s vote to reverse the January decision was unanimous among the five-person council.
“I apologize for any role, or my role in getting the cart before the horse, because I was definitely part of that,” Delgado said during last week’s meeting, according to the Monterey Herald. “I definitely underestimated the community sense about this.”
What Happens Next With Card Rooms in Marina?
The amendments Delgado and two other council members voted for last month would have allowed for the possibility of new card rooms, limited the number of card rooms to two, and set a limit on total tables. It would have made it easier for applicants to be assigned permits for a card room in Marina.
Two council members, Cristina Medina Dirksen and Brian McCarthy, voted against those amendments last month.
Following public outcry over the proposed Parkwest Casino Marina card room, and with the realization that the process was incorrectly followed, the council will examine the possibility of alternate locations and possibly increase the number of tables at one location — Marina Club — from 10 to 15.
Most importantly, any future decisions on card rooms will include comment and participation from the community prior to holding a vote on policy changes. Any future moves will also need tom comply with regulations set out by the California Gambling Control Commission.
Since 1996, Marina has had an ordinance that prohibits new card room permits. Two card rooms, Mortimer’s and the Marina Club, operated for years under that policy. In 2015, Mortimer’s closed, and the Marina Club is still active with 10 tables.
In 2022, the CGCC approved the transfer of Mortimer’s license to Parkwest Casinos, LLC. Last July, Parkwest applied to Marina for amendments to the card room policies so they could locate their card room in city limits. Current Marina ordinances do not allow a card room within city limits.
A Referendum Could Be on the Ballot
McCarthy said a referendum has been prepared to take to the voters later this year.
“I think the worst thing that could happen is that the city council gets their decision reversed,” McCarthy at the council meeting. “I think it is the biggest vote of ‘no confidence’ in any city council for whatever the issue is. And it’s become clear to me that could happen here and I hope that it doesn’t. If ever there was an issue that set the stage for a successful referendum, I believe that it’s this. I enjoy going to the Marina Club. I went to an event there, but it’s about listening to my constituents.”
A referendum vote cannot take place before November.
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