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Local News

Judge Sides with Venoco on Carpinteria Ballot Measure

The city had challenged the oil company's plans for a slant-drilling project at its Dump Road facility

A ballot measure that would put a slant-drilling project before Carpinteria’s voters was allowed to move forward Tuesday.

Judge Thomas Anderle denied a request from Carpinteria City Attorney Peter Brown to keep the item off the ballot. Up until Tuesday, Anderle had granted a temporary stay on the ballot measure. Now, Brown will be forced to write up ballot language by Sept. 1, regardless of whether the city decides to appeal the decision.

Venoco Inc. has been planning its slant-drilling project for more than a decade, and would like to see a 140-foot drilling rig installed at its Dump Road processing facility. Extended-reach, or slant, drilling, would allow access to oil and natural gas in the Santa Barbara Channel without using an offshore platform. The proposal, known as Project Paredon, could produce up to 11,000 barrels of oil a day, according to the project’s final environmental impact report.

If the project is successful, the company said it will contribute $1 million a year for up to five years to the Carpinteria Education Foundation and donate 22 acres of land on its 55-acre Dump Road parcel to be designated as open space. An additional $200 million windfall could come to the community as a percentage of the $1 billion the state would receive.

The city of Carpinteria filed a 26-page complaint challenging the legality of the measure just two weeks after the company filed the voter initiative. In April, Brown was granted a stay on the ballot, but a request for a second stay was denied and the issue was ordered to go to trial.

Before Anderle ruled Tuesday, Tim Irons, legal counsel for Brown, maintained that “there is no constitutional right to place an invalid measure on the ballot.”

The Paredon Project is a development in a city, he said, that requires a coastal development permit. The city has taken issue with the land-use permits embedded in the initiative.

“The initiative mandates that the city issue a coastal development permit,” Irons said. “The issuance of that permit is adjudicatory,” and not in the “proper scope” of the people’s right to form initiatives.

“Fundamentally, it’s this administrative function that is being usurped from the city and transferred to the electorate,” he said.

In the end, Judge Anderle overruled that argument. The project’s Development Agreement also was stricken.

“We are pleased that the ruling vigorously defended the initiative process,” Venoco Vice President Mike Wracher said in a statement. “The citizens of Carpinteria should feel empowered by this ruling, and we will do our part to bring this initiative before the voters at the earliest possible date.”

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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» on 07.29.09 @ 10:30 AM

Its about time the people are allowed to vote on these types of projects. Why are some folks so afraid to let local residents decide what they want. Why is it that the ultra-sensitive anti-oil production folks never want to admit the biggest environmental benefit this coast will ever see is the reduction in oil seepage pollution as a result of offshore extraction? Our beaches were an oily mess from natural oil seepage 50 years ago and are far cleaner now. Wouldn’t you think that would garner at leasts some praise? But never a word about it. Why? And yet they still drive their SUV’s.

» on 07.29.09 @ 12:33 PM

The voters of this state need to take back control of government and this measure and others like it are perfect ways to evaluate how the democratic majority wants to live. Carpenteria should be ashamed of itself for trying to exclude us from the process. We’ll live with the results and Carp. should be willing to do the same. And if they try to subvert this measure, we should vote them out of office. Californians for voter perogatives!! MJ

» on 07.29.09 @ 01:06 PM

What a great compromise solution to everyone’s concerns.
On the one side we have a very vocal aggressive group of people that will fight any offshore oil development due to the risks to the environment. ** At the same time, everyone will agree that petroleum is integral to our economy and life in general.  At present, we can not do with out it. Maybe in 30 years, but not now. 

NOW, someone has come up with a great compromise solution that can fill our needs with minimum risks.  Lets slant drill from LAND underneath the ocean to harvest the oil that does exist there.  What a great idea. Very minimum risk to the ocean or the surrounding environment.  This would be done in the center of an existing industrial complex, surrounded by 100 foot tall eucalyptus trees, almost invisible to any distant neighbors. 

No matter how you paint it, it makes total sense for everyone involved.. BUT, the local wackos are still going to go nuts about it because of the word OIL. These same people will drive their SUV’s 1 mile to the city council meeting to complain about it. Shame on them all.

It is great that now the citizens can vote on it and bypass the local wackos like Susan Allen.  Power to the People!

» on 07.29.09 @ 02:46 PM

Great news, let the people decide, not the smug, local NIMBY wackos who think their hybrids are powered by tofu! The phobia of oil with some in the community is insane, spreading lies and pipe dreams. We need a more holsitic approach to our energy woes and leaving oil out of it is a joke and injustice to the taxpayer.

» on 07.29.09 @ 03:19 PM

Yes the deep thinking GOO people would much rather denude rainforests and fill wetlands and starve the third world with yet another cash crop using land that could be growing FOOD in order to grow bio fuel simply because B-I-O does not have the same letters as O-I-L.

» on 07.29.09 @ 09:43 PM

The oil seepage ditty has resurfaced! A UCSB study already reported evidence against the statement that “the biggest environmental benefit this coast will ever see is the reduction in oil seepage pollution as a result of offshore extraction”. The scientist who led the research appeared recently before the Board of Supervisors to provide clear testimony contrary to the statement. He clearly stated that the oil industry was misusing his study.

BEWARE! Venoco’s PR campaign is not about truth, the well-being of people and place, and environmental sustainability. Venoco is barreling forward to generate profit from dirty oil. Let us keep in the forefront of our thoughts global climate change; Santa Barbara’s historic oil spill and many others since; and the fragile condition of our coastal environment. Carpinteria increasingly will generate clean profits from environmentally sustainable (truly green) sources. We did not end the stone age because we ran out of stones—-we found a smarter way!

Visit the American Planning Association’s ADOPTED Policy Guides on Energy, Sustainability, and others at

» on 07.29.09 @ 09:50 PM

You mean we might actually get to USE some of that gooey sticky stuff instead of letting it wash up on the beaches and out to sea? A judge with some common sense? And the City of Carp is spending taxpayer money fighting AGAINST bringing in revenue from other than the taxpayer?? Vote the bums out.

» on 07.30.09 @ 04:47 AM

@miguel checa

From the UCSB study

“Natural seepage of hydrocarbons from the ocean floor in the northern Santa Barbara Channel has been significantly reduced by oil production, according to two recently published peer-reviewed articles, one in November’s Geology Magazine, the other in the Journal of Geophysical Research - Oceans….

“According to the articles, studies of the area around Platform Holly showed a 50 percent decrease in natural seepage over 22 years. The researchers show that as the oil was pumped out the reservoir, pressure that drives the seepage dropped….

“If the decrease in natural seepage found near Platform Holly is representative of the effect of oil production on seepage worldwide, then this has the potential to significantly alter global oil and gas seepage in the future,” state the researchers in the article “The World’s Most Spectacular Marine Hydrocarbon Seeps: Quantification of Emissions ” in the Sept. 14 issue of the Journal of Geological Research - Oceans.”

There is a relation known as Darcy’s Law, which states that the flow of fluid through a rock is proportional to the permeability of the rock AND the pressure gradient between the two ends of the rock volume. In other words, if you drop the pressure in the oil reservoir (by producing the oil), then the pressure gradient between that reservoir and the “end of the rock volume”, i.e. the surface of the ocean floor, MUST decrease. Therefore the flow of oil through the surface MUST decrease.

This is exactly what the UCSB study has found. Perhaps you can explain to us how Venoco received an exemption from Darcy’s Law. Please include your math.

» on 07.30.09 @ 10:52 AM

Why won’t Pedro Nava ask the people what they want?

» on 07.30.09 @ 11:46 AM

Climate change formally known as “Global Warming” will likely go down as the biggest hoax of the 21st century. I’m all for buying local food, supporting local businesses, and yes even extracting local oil. Most of the local so called “environmentalists” are so out of touch with reality. The belief that we can suddenly do without oil is just insane. We need to develop both so called green energy as well as extract our local resources for the benefit of all of us. ‘Miguel Checa’ says, “Carpinteria increasingly will generate clean profits from environmentally sustainable (truly green) sources” What sources are you talking about? You really think if a company proposed building a wind, solar or anything at all that has footprint the community wouldn’t oppose? If you don’t you’re living in a dream world.

» on 07.30.09 @ 11:48 AM

Why not just believe your eyes- over the last 50 years, the amount of oil and tar on our beaches has declined significantly. Why?  Offshore oil production drying up oil seepage pollution. The UCSB Professor in question said he stands by the study that shows the decline, he just doesn’t like the fact the study is used in the public policy debate by residents supporting oil extraction. Big Surprise! He also argued in the same letter that oil seeps here aren’t pollution-which IS really ridiculous. Read his letter to the Board of Supervisors. Oil seepage not pollution? What are you wiping off of your feet at the beach? Go to El Capitan State Beach sometime(and bring the baby wipes). Its all seep oil. EPA, CARB and California Fish and Game define it as pollution. It kills more birds then all offshore spills in CA combined. So its ok for birds to die from seep oil and to get it all over you if you’re a surfer as long as its natural? Its really a ridiculous argument. Meanwhile lets oppose all oil production off the coast and pretend were’re not importing it instead from the Middle East? Brilliant!

» on 07.30.09 @ 03:30 PM

Justin Tevis for City council.
He has my vote!

» on 07.30.09 @ 03:37 PM

Check out all these “comment writers”, like SB Common Sense, “Finaly a perfect compromise” SBlife, Deep Thoughts, etc.  They are paid shills from Venoco. If they were real Carpinteria people facing the 11 unavoidable environmental impacts they would sound very differently. As it is their job is to push Venocos agenda and to discredit anybody who disagrees. I feel sorry for them. Their soul as dirty as what they are trying to push.

» on 07.30.09 @ 03:54 PM

Notapaid Consultant…does that make you a shill for the opposition…how do we not know you’re just a CVA wonk?  I believe you have your opion and are honestly opposed to the project but that doesn’t mean there are not others in the community who have a different point of view…You’re statements are ignorant if you think you have an monopoly this or any other issue.

» on 07.30.09 @ 03:59 PM

@Notapaid Consultant

What you are saying is this: “Everyone who does not subscribe to my point of view is stupid, immoral, and on Venoco’s payroll.” I guess this includes the UCSB geology department and the USGS. That Venoco must have SOME payroll!

Please grow up. Life is more complicated than your simple view of good guys and bad guys. And no, I do not work for, nor do I get paid by, Venoco. Believe it or not, people who have access to the same information you have do not necessarily agree with you.

» on 07.30.09 @ 05:07 PM

Yes I hit a nerve with those shills.  The fact is that Venoco is paying people to run a campaign. I stand by my statements, Karma is gonna getcha!

» on 07.30.09 @ 05:23 PM

RE: Notapaid Consultant… Are you really that ignorant? If someone supports oil development it must some conspiracy by the “evil” oil corporations? Are you for real? Many people in this community don’t buy into the global warming hoax and the vilification of oil. It’s not that we are anti-environment it’s that we actually have a brain, read the facts, see reality, and make our own decisions.

» on 07.30.09 @ 05:36 PM

I’m sorry, I have to admit that I have made a mistake. I thought that the comment writters were several Venoco paid shills. Now I think that it is only one person commenting under different names. Pathetic!

» on 07.30.09 @ 05:47 PM

NIBY’s go away.  Your arguments are juvenile and tend to ignore reality.  It will be fun to have a big issue, for a change, decided by the VOTERS instead the nut jobs that go to every city council meeting to bully the rest of the community into their perverse way of life.
Power to the People !

» on 07.30.09 @ 06:17 PM


LOL. Oh gosh, we’re all… I mean I’m ....busted!

“Yes I hit a nerve with those shills.”

Yes, people seemed to be amused that someone with such a profound lack of imagination can actually write.

“Now I think that…”

But you don’t know how to think. You confuse science and critical thought with ideology.

» on 07.30.09 @ 06:45 PM

Yes, I have busted you shill. Now chill out and go lick your wounded soul.

» on 07.30.09 @ 07:22 PM

For those of you tuning in late. Venoco is paying a PR firm in Oakland to run their Paredon Campaign. These shills are now witting letters to the editor and planting “comments” on the Internet. This is a fact. Watch them in action.

» on 07.30.09 @ 07:50 PM

Yes, we need oil and yes, we need money, but are you all willing to destroy the Arbol Verde Concha Loma neighborhood for gain?  Any profit that Carpinteria may receive will be subsidized by the health, safety and financial ruin of our neighborhood.  We will also have miserable lives with 24 hour drilling, clanging of pipes noxious odors, phones ringing, beeping of trucks backing up, as well as all the already existing plant noises.  We will be living in hell.  You say leave then, where could we go? Some of our house value will drop lower than the purchase price.  I am really frightened as I know that most of the Venoco posts would cheerfully throw us all under the bus for monetary gain.
  The most cynical thing that Venoco has proposed is covering their drilling rig with a phony lighthouse; a lighthouse is a symbol of good, a structure to protect sailors from harm.  Venoco’s lighthouse will be designed to lull folks into a false sense of security when it really should remain a drill rig with a large danger, stay away sign on it.

» on 07.31.09 @ 04:39 AM

The same folks that rant and rave that oil companies are behind everything that happens are the same folks that fill up their gas tanks every week, use oil based plastics and computers(which use oil-based products), then don’t let oil companies drill anywhere, and then complain about high oil prices. Brilliant! If you can’t win the offshore oil argument on the merits or the facts- then just accuse everyone of working for oil companies- its an old tired device that doesn’t work so well anymore. The people are getting educated about the truth and the faith-based pseudo-environmentalists don’t like it.

» on 07.31.09 @ 12:55 PM

Wow the shill is still protesting, maybe he is a SMOMFO at heart. (sell my own mother for oil)

» on 07.31.09 @ 08:15 PM

If anyone is a shill (or should that be shrill) around here it is Notapaid Consultant. When you walk where ever you go, make your house out of animal skins or material you clear from your own land and eat only what you grow on your own land, then you can complain. Otherwise stop your infantile bury-your-head-in-the-sand attitude about oil. You live in a petrochemical civilization, period. You can whine [deleted] and cry all you want about nasty dirty bad ole oil, but you only exist today because of it. You only have the time to think about how bad oil is because oil, lots of it and cheap, liberates you from a life of slavery to subsistence. Get it through your thick ignorant skull, when that thick black goo runs out or becomes too expensive to extract, you better have damned cheap alternative or I suspect your worthless, technology and cheap energy dependant arse will starve to death trying to live without it. I am so sick and tired of this stupid rubbish about how bad oil is coming from people who have absolutely no freaking idea how dependant they are on it or any cheap alternative. But I will say this, you are going to find out and you will not survive.

» on 08.01.09 @ 05:17 AM

I like your new name shill: SMOMFO, it fits better than AN50

» on 08.01.09 @ 01:07 PM

Nice comeback, ooooh I’m just shaking from the intellectual wit of it. See ya in the soup line ya moron.

» on 08.01.09 @ 03:22 PM

These anti-anything-oil types are the some ones that would sell their own mother for biodeisel (SMOMFB - hilarious), thinking it is a low environmental impact alternative. The fact that it still produces emissions uses more energy to produce and fills swamps and wetlands and denudes rainforests and increases food prices is just incidental.

» on 08.01.09 @ 04:38 PM

Venoco must be feeling the pinch. Can’t afford educated shills anymore, just low life brawlers with delusions of intellect. AN50 Was hired from a soup line, what can you expect!

» on 08.01.09 @ 05:48 PM

So that’s your intelligent response? Whoopy! We’re all really impressed now!
Your point is well noted Realist. Can’t believe these guys think the environmentally favorable alternative is one that competes with food production and stimulates rainforest destruction. Note, however, that the Al Gore zealots find one hydrocarbon source is acceptable but another one is not. Do these guys realize that every living organism on the planet uses hydrocarbons or carbohydrates as an energy storage medium? Of course we mine most of ours so our population has far out stripped our ability to survive on grown sources, unless we decide that we want to live like we did 10,000 years ago. I suspect our liberal shill would last about a day before that big ole blister on his hand really hurt, then he’d be calling for his government nanny to come and rescue him.

» on 08.01.09 @ 08:29 PM

The shill is congratulating him/herself under different names. And each time he/she writes something he/she keeps counting, and 50 cents more and 50 cents more and 50 cents more, that’ why he/she calls him/herself An50. Hey I’m all for the SMOMFO stimulus package, as long as Venoco is paying. Type away shill!

» on 08.02.09 @ 12:35 AM

Let me just inject a new voice into the conversation, which has unfortunately disintegrated into a flame war.  I am a Carpinteria citizen ashamed of the Anderle ruling and will vote a resounding “no,” along with many others.  Venoco is quite clever and knows exactly what they are doing by taking this out of the hands of regulatory bodies and people who actually have a clue about what is being decided.  They are relying on “the people” to make an uneducated, shortsighted, hasty decision, under the guise of “grassroots democracy.”  What a ridiculous ploy.

» on 08.02.09 @ 12:38 AM

...And a note to Noozhawk: You should require a valid email address for each commenter (like the Independent does) to ensure quality and transparency of comments

» on 08.03.09 @ 02:46 PM

I disagree with a new voice in his assumption that ordinary people are always less well informed than the folks who are supposed to be taking care of us. Pedro Nava, for example, is very poorly informed on oil industry issues. Having said that, I do question the extent to which the state of California relies on these kinds of referendums.

But I agree strongly with a new voice in urging noozhawk to be more restrictive in the comments it publishes. Someone whose sole point is to belittle another contributor is not adding any value to the discussion.

» on 09.28.09 @ 11:31 PM

Drill - period.

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