Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Thomas Anderle on Tuesday granted a request for a stay filed by Carpinteria’s city attorney, briefly holding up Venoco’s plans for an extended-reach drilling project.
As a result of Anderle’s ruling, Carpinteria City Attorney Peter Brown is temporarily relieved of having to prepare a ballot title and summary for Venoco’s proposed oil-drilling measure, the Carpinteria Community Initiative. Brown was legally required to do so when Venoco filed the voter initiative with the city in February in support of its Paredon project.
The project is an extended-reach oil and gas drilling operation that involves a 140-foot drilling rig on Venoco’s onshore facilities on Dump Road near the Carpinteria bluffs. If approved, the technology would enable Venoco to tap oil reserves in the area without having to use an offshore rig.
In February, Venoco filed a voter initiative for the November ballot, a move that would place the fate of the project in the hands of voters. If approved, the Paredon project would generate an estimated $200 million in state royalties and other revenue for the city.
Also part of the deal would be a donation of 20 acres of coastal land to the city and $5 million to the Carpinteria Education Foundation.
Brown’s motion for a stay is one of a series of attempts to keep the initiative off the ballot. After Venoco filed the voter initiative, the city fired back less than two weeks later with a complaint regarding the legality of the initiative, citing the need for better environmental review and questioning how much of the royalties would come back to the community. Brown was also granted a stay of his statutory duties until April 7. Since then the parties were given a continuance on the motion to stay, in order to “expedite the briefing schedule and hearing on the merits of the initiative.”
On April 21, however, the court did not grant another motion for a stay, saying instead it intended to hold a hearing Tuesday to set a trial date. Instead of the hearing, however, the court granted another stay as it waits for more information from both sides on a proposed schedule for review of the case. According to the court, that information has not yet been furnished.
A trial date on Venoco’s initiative has been scheduled for 11:30 a.m. July 28.