The Lompoc City Council unanimously voted Tuesday to set up an intergovernmental-relations committee between the city and the tribe, which employs a large number of Lompoc residents at its Chumash Casino Resort.
A four-member ad hoc committee will be established for two years, working with the tribe and periodically setting up meetings between the two governments.
Since the Chumash tribe is the largest private employer of Lompoc residents — about 800 of them — it just made sense to be at the table talking to them, said Steve Pepe, founding chair of the Lompoc economic development committee.
“They’ve been very good neighbors and very good citizens,” he said. “I see this as a win-win for both parties.”
Lompoc is the second government to engage the tribe in a dialogue on issues. The city of Solvang has a similar intergovernmental committee that was approved last year, and that agreement was just renewed into 2016.
Pepe realizes Lompoc’s view differs from that of the County Board of Supervisors, whose members have repeatedly voted down starting a dialogue with the Chumash, even questioning the tribe’s sovereignty.
Assistant City Manager Teresa Gallavan said Lompoc council members were “very receptive” to establishing and continuing a respectful working relationship with the tribe.
Its committee will include Lompoc Mayor Bob Lingl, Councilman Victor Vega, and two members from the tribal government leadership board.
“The city of Lompoc is home to a large number of Chumash Casino Resort employees and has long held a deep connection to many of our tribal members,” Tribal Chairman Vincent Armenta said in a statement. “Creating a formal government-to-government relationship with Lompoc makes perfect sense.
“It’s very beneficial to both our governments because it opens doors to important dialogue about matters that affect us both.”
Pepe said Lompoc could collaborate with the Chumash on housing issues, and he hoped other cities — or the county — might soon follow suit.