The Concord Blue Devils, will make a loud noise at a Concord City Council meeting, Tuesday evening, July 13, beginning at 6:30 p.m. Over 300 band members and alumni of the internationally acclaimed music and dance program will march to City Hall to appeal the City’s push to approve a big box bingo operator from Virginia to run a regional bingo hall in Concord that will devastate community fundraising activities.
Since June, Concord city planners and commissioners have fast-tracked a planning development (PD) request from Enea properties to convert the former site of Velocity Sports training center, located at 1505 Willow Pass Road, into a regional bingo center operated by Pop’s Bingo World, based out of Richmond, VA.
The transfer of the “recreational use” of the zoning from gymnasium to a completely different use, is seen as a way for Enea to at least get some rent out of the vacant structure; by leasing the site to a national, turn-key Big-Box Bingo outfit.
The Blue Devils (CBD) say approving Enea’s “Pop’s Bingo Hall,” which takes a substantial percentage of proceeds as hall rents from charities, would cripple the local non-profit’s ability to raise funds for its local programs that benefit more than 430 local students every year.
Meanwhile, the City of Concord seems determined to approve the PD (without a continuance!), amending the plan to a simpler, speedier “Use Permit” Administration Application (AA) process, and without any environmental studies required by California statute (CEQA); as if there would be no traffic or environmental impacts. The applicants represented capacity could add peak loads of 600 vehicle trips per night on Willow Pass Road and crowded city corridors.
The Blue Devils contend that the AA violates (1) the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”), (2) land use principles as to the consistency of approved uses with zoning requirements, (3) state constitutional provisions regarding bingo, (4) the state bingo statute, (5) the City’s bingo ordinance, (6) due process requirements, and (7) various community and public policy considerations.
According to the Blue Devils, which have operated bingo in Concord for over 30 years, current proceeds make up about half of its local fundraising.
“We are expanding our fundraising into additional areas, of course,” said Kit Rodgers, President of the Blue Devils Board Directors. “But in these tough times, we disagree with the city paving the way for a national bingo operator, that would devastate Blue Devil programs that benefit hundreds of local kids.”
According to Bret Rios, director of operations for CBD, “In northern California there are only three communities that have been able to support more than one bingo hall—Oakland, San Jose, and Sacramento.” Rios believes that Pop’s Bingo World would dilute attendance and significantly reduce fundraising abilities, which would negatively impact the Blue Devils, in addition to other local non-profits including the Aquanuts, and the Concord High School Band.
The Council meeting begins at 6:30 p.m., at the City Council Chambers located at 1950 Parkside in Concord.
The Blue Devils encourage their friends and supporters to tell Concord City Council not to approve Pop’s big-box bingo in Concord, by calling (925) 671-3158 or by e-mailing City Council.
See clip and Planning Commission hearing presentation below