CYPRESS : Citizen Group Seeks to Block Card Club

Opponents of the proposed Cypress Card Club officially kicked off their campaign last week with T-shirts and a trip to the City Council meeting.

Cypress Citizens Against Card Club, or CCACC, has also formally organized by filing with the state under the Fair Political Campaign Practices Act. The action allows the organization to solicit campaign funds and have their position included in ballot arguments for the June 8 election.

"We are just setting the groundwork for what we hope will be a successful campaign to defeat the card club," said Jean McKinzie, who heads the group.

At last week's City Council meeting, co-chairman Joseph Hourigan introduced the organization to the city and displayed the group's logo--a hand holding jokers with a circle and a slash through it.

The CCACC plans a clean campaign, Hourigan said, and will refuse money from out-of-town card clubs, which may have an interest in keeping out competition. Small donations to help fund their cause have already started to come in, officials said.

The group organized as the City Council last week authorized a ballot question to legalize a card club at the racetrack. Plans for a card club in Cypress were first proposed by Lloyd Arnold, owner of Los Alamitos Race Course. Arnold wants to put a 24-hour card club at the racetrack, which is in Cypress.

During the last week, backers of the card club placed a trailer at the entrance of the Los Alamitos track, where residents can ask questions on the card club plan.

Those favoring the club are expected to begin holding a series of public meetings to gain support in the community.

While residents within Cypress are organizing, the idea of a card club nearby has raised concerns in neighboring cities. Some in Los Alamitos say Cypress should study the potential effects on its neighbors and publicize the results, possibly in an environmental impact statement. Los Alamitos officials fear their city would get all the problems without any of the benefits.

"How come the community is not being given the facts before they are asked to vote?" Los Alamitos Mayor Ronald Bates asked. "There is plenty of time between now and June for a preliminary report on the impacts to surrounding communities."

Though Bates has called for the city of Cypress and proponent Arnold to study the impacts of the proposal, he has not asked the Los Alamitos City Council to take a stand on the issue, nor has he formally requested Cypress to conduct an environmental impact study.

Bates said he fears that if the card club is approved, traffic along Katella Avenue will increase, resulting in lower property values.

"All that we've been hearing is how much money the gambling parlor will make," Bates said. "But there are other considerations. Are people willing to gamble their future (by approving the card club)?"

In nearby Stanton, residents will go to the polls in June to decide whether to allow gambling in their community.

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