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Community Digest

Pico Rivera : Despite Protest, Funds OKd for Vote on Card Casino

March 18, 1993

City officials set aside $40,000 for a referendum on a proposed $30-million card club about two hours after a City Hall protest against the casino this week.

"I believe the residents of Pico Rivera should be able to make a choice for themselves," Councilman Alberto Natividad said after the City Council voted unanimously to fund the June 8 election.

The proposed 120,000-square-foot casino would generate $5 million to $7 million a year in tax revenue and create more than 1,000 jobs in a city hard hit by recession and the decline in the aerospace industry, officials said. Council members voted unanimously in February to hold the special election on the casino, which would be built near the intersection of the San Gabriel River Freeway (605) and Beverly Boulevard.

Before Monday's council meeting, about 25 anti-casino protesters lined the sidewalk in front of City Hall. They waved signs with messages such as: "Families will get lost in the shuffle" and "Gambling preys on the weak."

Demonstrators said the casino would erode family values, increase crime and create traffic problems. The picketers, who said they represent a coalition of nine area churches, also oppose the referendum.

"That money could be used for something else," said Richard Ochoa, pastor at The Lord's Vineyard in Pico Rivera. "I think the casino is going to be defeated."

Some residents at Monday's meeting said they favor the casino. Resident Peter Navarro said casino revenues would be a good source of funding for youth programs.

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