June 13, 2023 Minutes- -Hybrid Meeting In-Person and via ZOOM

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Eric Ustation, Director of Local Intergovernmental Affairs, San Manuel Band of Mission Indians

Meeting In-Person and via ZOOM


Present:  Megan Barajas, Deborah Barmack, Carole Beswick, Bill Blankenship, Greg Bradbard, Rachelle Bussell, Mark Cloud, Ken Coate, Kevin Dyerly, Dr. Sam Gibbs, Louis Goodwin, Fran Inman, Mark Kaenel, Lowell King, Steve Lambert, Bill Lemann, Vikki Ostermann, Bansree Parikh, Cid Pinedo, Catherine Pritchett, Thomas Rice, Kristine Scott, Paul Shimoff, John Tang, Eric Ustation, Lupe Valdez, Pete Van Helden, Michael Wells, Ray Wolfe and Frank Zabaleta.

Announcements: 1) Members were reminded that the Inland Action baseball “watch” event is tomorrow beginning at 4:00p.m. in the 909 Sports lounge located in the Yaamava Resort.

Kevin Dyerly, Chair presiding

Motion by B. Blankenship/Second/Passed: Minutes from May 23, 2023

Deborah Barmack reported that SB 410 (Becker) the Powering Up of California Act has passed the Senate and is now going to the Assembly.  The bill will require CPUC to establish (synchronize) charging station/depot energization timelines with the compliance deadlines of California’s zero-emission goals and regulations. Since this is consistent with the position that we took to Washington, D.C. and conversations we had in Sacramento, Inland Action has been added to a joint letter of support which is posted on our web site.

UCR Inland Center for Sustainable Development requests support of their NSF Grant application to research issues of warehouses and logistics in the Inland region. Committee Chairs Dan Schenkel and Thomas Rice stated that this project will likely continue with or without Inland Action’s support. Discussion ensued.  Comments included a need for a comprehensive look at the broader perspective, concerns there are appropriate representation of the affected groups, possible misconception that use of Inland Action’s name may be perceived as approval of their methods and results.  Staff was asked to get feedback from the Monday Morning Group and the Riverside Chamber of Commerce.  To further educate the group, Rick Bishop, Co-Director of the Inland Center for Sustainable Development at UCR will be asked to speak at the July 25, 2023, meeting.

Michael Wells introduced Eric Ustation, Director of Local Intergovernmental Affairs​, San Manuel Band of Mission Indians (SMBMI), who joined us in person.  Eric gave a general update on the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians projects and discussed tribal priorities.

SMBMI has been and continues to be a great community partner at both the local and regional levels.  The Tribe currently has 7.4M acres but much is hillside where it is difficult to build.  They have 40 home sites but are working on leveling land along with necessary roadways and utilities ​to add 43 more homes to enable more tribal members to return to their land.

During the 1700s, the California Mission System was established and indigenous people who remained on their ancestral lands were viewed as a nuisance and were often the victims of harsh treatment and violence. In 1866, as anti-Native American sentiment ran high, Tribal Leader Santos Manuel led the remaining tribal members, numbering only 20-30 people, away from their mountainous homelands into the San Bernardino Valley.  When The Act of Relief for Mission Indians was passed in 1891they were completely removed and placed on the San Manuel Reservation with inherent rights to self-govern as a sovereign nation.

Their community is focused on public safety and their direction is to be a good neighbor.  They are proud of their Fire Department established to protect the tribe.  As their land has a high risk for wildfires, they are the only tribe with a Class 1 Rated Fire Department and use goats as an innovative way to clear brush.

​The Tribe’s community enhancements include improvements to infrastructure, public safety with added fire engines, community policing, ​park improvements/recreation and a mobile vet clinic, all of which add to quality of life for the tribe and surrounding areas.  ​

​Although the Tribes revenue consists mainly of gaming and resort income, they see the importance of diversifying.  Their focus is on hospitality arenas but also have an interest in logistics.  Their hospitality interests include resorts such as Bear Springs Hotel in Highland, Three Fires Residence Inn in Sacramento, Four Fires in Washington, D.C, The Draftsman in Virginia, The Palms in Las Vegas, and Monarch Beach in Dana Point. Their logistics endeavor is called San Manuel Landing and is the reimagined use for a 50+ acre lot on the site of the former Norton Air Force Base. Located at the southeast corner of Victoria Avenue and 3rd Street, it is​ one of the few “Class A” warehouse facilities to be found in San Bernardino.

As one of the largest employers in our region they have had challenges in finding and attracting large groups of potential team members.  The COVID pandemic forced them to replace over 3,900 employees, an unprecedented turnover. To address their hiring needs, they created a full-service recruitment center that provided career counseling, applications, interviews, offers and pre-employment testing.  This strategic initiative to meet casino & resort expansion needs was successful, and they hired over 5,700 team members.

SMBMI is dedicated to philanthropic giving using four key areas of giving:

  • Education-The Tribe believes education is the key to creating paths to a better future.
  • Empowering Lives-San Manuel stands up for those who need basic services, including food, shelter and those who have served the country.
  • Reinforcing Healthy and Resilient Communities-The Tribe partners with community-based organizations and local agencies that lift and support the development and resilience of their community.
  • Preserving Cultural Traditions and Empowering Indian Country-San Manuel’s goal is toward a bright and promising future for all indigenous people.​

Their strategic philanthropy program has a dedicated department that oversees and administers the Tribe’s charitable giving investments. On an annual basis the Tribe has 3-month period where 501c 3 organizations can apply for grant funding. The Tribe works with trusted partners outside the 3-month timeframe on larger, strategic giving opportunities. ​

San Manuel’s legislative priorities include:

  • Education​
  • Public Safety Missing and Murdered Indigenous People (MMIP)
  • Indian Child Welfare Act ​
  • Transportation Improvements​
  • Cardroom Moratorium​

A Q & A period followed.
Meeting adjourned 8:30 a.m.