A response from a federal agency regarding the Barona Noise and Pollution Action Committee’s (BNPAC) complaints about the Barona Oaks Motocross track still leaves unanswered questions for affected residents of San Diego Country Estates (SDCE).
Last week the Sentinel published an article about the BNPAC’s frustration over a lack of response from the many government officials it has contacted in an effort to abate the noise and air pollution that some Estates residents say they experience on a daily basis. A portion of the Estates abuts the Barona Indian Reservation and residents say that over the years a mini-motorcycle track has grown to include the motocross track, a drag strip and other venues, with larger motorcycles and more hours of operation causing excessive noise and air pollution from the emissions.
In December, Congressman Duncan Hunter sent a letter to the Southern California Agency of the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, inquiring what actions, if any, the BIA would consider necessary in this situation. The BIA responded in a letter to Hunter stating it had reviewed correspondence from SDCE residents along with supporters of the MX track. The BIA said the Barona Band of Mission Indians (BMI) had provided the agency with information sent to U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein that included a brief history of the track and the BMI’s efforts to work with their neighbors.
“As you know, the track is a tribally owned enterprise and is regulated by BMI,” the letter from the Southern California Agency of BIA stated. “The BIA does not have jurisdiction over the maintenance and operation of the track. In response to your question regarding a request and/or action against BMI, the BIA has no basis in which to request the United States Attorney to pursue an investigation as there are no federal actions pending from BIA. Compliance and/or issues pertaining to the track would be resolved through the tribal chain-of-command.”
Marshall Kelsay, chairman of the BNPAC, responded with a letter to Hunter’s office, stating he is confused over the BIA’s comment that it has no jurisdiction over the track.
“However, the BIA has jurisdiction over the entire Barona Indian Reservation, which makes their point rather ludicrous,” he said. “Does the BIA mean to represent that, as long as BMI has leased activities on their property, they cannot be held responsible for those activities?”
Kelsay said that doesn’t work in the rest of the United States and he questioned why the federal government allows the sovereign nation status to shield the Indian reservation from any type of regulation and/or conformity that is required of non-Indians.
Asking Hunter to unequivocally state that residents have no rights or further available options with the federal government or the congressman’s office in regard to the issue, Kelsay said he will be asking the same of other public officials to whom he has written.
“Professionally I clearly understand bureaucracy and the merry-go-round theory of no one ever being accountable and shift the responsibility from one agency to the other,” Kelsay said.
Kelsay said he has also been in contact with Feinstein’s office, but has never received a response from the senator.