The Carpinteria City Clerk’s Office announced Monday that it has verified the signatures for the Carpinteria Community Initiative, Venoco Inc.‘s proposed Paredon slant-drilling project, and that the initiative has qualified for the ballot.

“We are pleased that the initiative has qualified,” said Vern Mesick, 36-year Carpinteria resident. “Now all voters in Carpinteria will have the opportunity to vote on this important issue.”

The City Council now has the choice to either adopt the initiative or place it on a ballot next spring. The City Council said it will take action on the issue at its Dec. 14 meeting.

On Oct. 12, more than 1,000 signatures were submitted to the City Clerk. In only two weeks, signatures from more than 15 percent of Carpinteria voters had been collected. By law, the City Clerk had 30 working days to verify that the signatures were valid and that an adequate number had been submitted.

“When signatures were collected so quickly, we were impressed by how excited people were about this project,” Concha Loma resident Chris Gahan said. “This initiative will generate funding to support critical programs in our community.”

If approved by voters, Venoco said the Carpinteria Community Initiative has the potential to provide significant benefits to Carpinteria and Santa Barbara County, including funding to protect open space and the coastline from development, preserve the small town character of Carpinteria, reduce dependence on foreign oil, create good local jobs, improve roads and allow for investments in alternative energy.

For the past few years, Venoco has worked to develop a plan for using state-of-the-art technology called extended-reach drilling to access oil and natural gas reserves off of Carpinteria’s coast without the need for an additional offshore oil platform. Last year, Venoco representatives visited and called Carpinteria residents to discuss the initiative and seek community feedback.

If approved, Carpinteria would be entitled to royalties and revenue resulting from oil and natural gas accessed with this state-of-the-art technology. It is estimated that the project could generate as much as $200 million to protect and improve Carpinteria and Santa Barbara County. In addition, if the project moves forward, Venoco would donate 20 acres of coastal land to Carpinteria to be preserved as open space. Venoco also would donate $5 million to the Carpinteria Education Foundation as a royalty match.

“The Carpinteria Community Initiative will support critical programs and services here in Carpinteria, such as recreation, arts and cultural facilities,” Mesick said. “This funding will help protect what we love about our community.”

— Lisa Murphy Rivas is the community relations manager for Venoco Inc.