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Local News

Carpinteria to Appeal Ruling on Venoco Ballot Initiative

The city will continue to challenge the oil company's attempt to seek voter approval for a drilling project

After issuing a 4-1 vote in closed session Monday night, the Carpinteria City Council has announced it will appeal a judge’s ruling that would require a Venoco slant-drilling project to appear before voters.

Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge Thomas Anderle denied a request from the city to keep the item off the ballot, and his ruling would compel City Attorney Peter Brown to draft language for the ballot measure by Sept. 1.

City sources confirmed last week that the city has spent at least $180,000 so far in its legal battle with the company, and will end up spending more by way of appeal.

For more than a decade, Venoco has been planning an extended-reach drilling project that would produce up to 11,000 barrels of oil a day, according to the project’s final environmental impact report. The project, known as Project Paredon, originates with a 140-foot drilling rig to be installed at Venoco’s Dump Road processing facility.

Carpinteria Mayor Gregg Carty, who voted in favor of the appeal, said his biggest concern remains doing what’s right for the city.

“The initiative raises serious conflicts with the city’s Local Plan and coastal program, which is the blueprint for development in our community,” he said. “The initiative, as drafted, represents an end run around the normal planning process, a process that has served our city well for many years.”

Carty said important legal issues weren’t addressed by the trial court and still need to be resolved. But the city also doesn’t want to delay the initiative’s circulation while the appeal is pending, so the council has directed Brown to draft up the title ballot and summary before Sept. 1.

That way, proponents can circulate the initiative in an effort to qualify the measure for an election, which most likely would be held in 2010, he said.

Councilman Joe Armendariz, who was the dissenting vote on the matter, said he felt the money could be better spent on other things. Although he voted to authorize Brown to start litigation against the petitioners, Armendariz said he believed they had received their answer through an appeal.

He said he didn’t think the city would win the appeal not only because of Judge Anderle’s recent ruling, but because the same appeals court that will hear Carpinteria’s case also just upheld an initiative ruling in a similar case in San Luis Obispo.

“My colleagues are willing to spend as much taxpayer money as it takes to appeal this decision,” he said, though not because they feel they will win in court. “They want to send a clear message to the Wal-Marts, Costcos and Venocos of the world that the city’s land-use decision-making process is too complex and should not be placed in the hands of an uninformed citizenry.”

Armendariz said the approach “fails to appreciate the collective wisdom” of local voters.

Venoco spokeswoman Lisa Rivas called the decision “another disappointing move” by the City Council.

“It’s pretty surprising if you think about it,” she said. “While Californians vote on statewide initiatives all the time, Carpinteria’s City Council is using tax dollars to prevent its citizens from having the same right.”

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

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» on 08.12.09 @ 01:48 AM

It’s about time somebody expressed common sense on the senseless Carp City Council.  Carty clearly doesn’t know what he’s talking about from the quote above.  I guess he’s never been to Santa Barbara, where there’s an initiative going before the voters this fall that would amend its general plan.  And, nobody is complaining that they don’t have the right to initiative up there.

» on 08.12.09 @ 01:52 AM

Stein, Carty, Clark, Reddington….not a clear thinker amongst the 4 of them.  Surprisingly, Joe Armendariz seems to have the guts to step up on this issue.  The rest cower to those bullies from the Carp Valley Association.  While on the topic of fruitcakes, Ted Rhodes, does he even live in the city?

» on 08.12.09 @ 11:25 AM

Nothing like spending the voter’s money fighting against allowing them to VOTE!!!!

» on 08.12.09 @ 11:26 AM

Don’t worry, the voters will be allowed to vote AGAINST this pack of bandits!

» on 08.12.09 @ 11:27 AM

Gee, I wonder why it was a closed session????

» on 08.12.09 @ 11:28 AM

“The initiative, as drafted, represents an end run around the normal planning process, a process that has served our city well for many years.”

Actually, it’s more like an end run around the VOTERS!

» on 08.12.09 @ 11:36 AM

So they are going to spend more taxpayer money to stop taxpayers from voting? insanity

» on 08.12.09 @ 01:22 PM

If these politicians had any smarts, Noozhawk would be required reading. It’s so easy to get a feel for the tone of the public. I would be running scared if I were them.

» on 08.12.09 @ 01:28 PM

Wasting money to fight against giving the voters a voice is one thing. Wasting money to fight against giving the voters a voice about whether or not they think the City could benefit from significant revenue during times of economic downturn and budget downfalls is about ten times worse!! What delusional world do they live in?

While kids go without textbooks, jails have to release criminals, people who need mental health services have to be turned out to roam the streets, nonprofits are losing donations, people are losing jobs and benefits, people who need healthcare have to go without, people are losing homes and the homeless rosters increase.. THESE GUYS WANT TO SPEND MORE TAXPAYER MONEY AND TIME FIGHTING AGAINST GIVING THE TAXPAYERS A VOICE??? This is outrageous.

» on 08.12.09 @ 03:13 PM

The citizens will vote NO.  Remember Fess Parker tried this approach years ago to build his hotel the way he wanted it—SB voted a BIG NO and so will Carpinteria.

» on 08.12.09 @ 05:52 PM

You miserable coward, how dare you launch a personal attack on one of the finest volunteer/activist in the Carpinteria area. and Noozhawk, displaying Venoco adds now for the third time on articles related to them is beyond the pale.  I guess the topic is slant drilling, but you don’t have to cover it with slanted journalism. Read your own rules for posting Comments and remove those that have personal attacks. Thank you.
Ground Rules for Posting Comments:

No personal attacks.
No vulgar or discriminatory language.
If you do not follow these rules, we will remove your comment.
Comments are moderated, and will not appear until they’ve been approved.

» on 08.12.09 @ 06:29 PM

I will handle this one Noozhawk.
Try to figure out the meaning of a “personal” attack. There is nothing personal about what Fruitcake said. You can be opposed to what someone does or stands for, name them by name, without it being personal. Personal is when you call someone a name or insult them. ” Pointing out the fact that someone is not thinking clearly is an attribute of that person, it is not a personal attack. Asking if someone lives in the City is not a personal attack, it is a fact. I don’t see a Venoco ad, either. You must be the true fruitcake. I just said that to give you an example of what a personal attack is, I didn’t mean it ;-) I think Noozhawk makes good judgements, is very fair and open and rarely do they deny commentary unless it is over the top - unlike the Independent that denies commentary they don’t agree with and tries to manipulate the comments to their way of thinking - to the extent of canceling your account if they don’t like your politics or if you disagree with their views.

As to your other point, “finest volunteer activist”? In my book volunteer/ activists usually are people with far too much time on their hands, unemployed (hence VOLUNTEER) enjoy being disruptive, annoying and against productive progress… none of them should be honored with the adjective “finest”.

» on 08.12.09 @ 07:26 PM

You seem to think highly of your intellect and there is no use arguing with you. You need a bit of humility to see how wrong you are, in all your points. 1) That annonymous coward is calling people names, namely Fruitcake. 
2)There is a rotating add in the middle of the Noozhawk Venoco Stories that does include an add for Venoco. Take the time to verify this, you’ll learn something about your assumptions
3) Volunteers provide immense good to their communities, the fact they do it for free is so much more to their credit and deserves our gratitude. In a world that is just obsessed with the bottom line this individual has made a huge difference to the quality of life of people here now and generations to come. He deserves the adjetive “finest,” and your respect, if you respect anyting in this world.

You don’t have to agree, I know you don’t, but maybe one day you’ll grow a concience and remember this.

» on 08.12.09 @ 08:36 PM

Wow, did I elicit a response from The Unreasonables or what?  To the person who wrote the rebuttal to my comments (To Fruitcake City and Noozhawk) you strike me as the “if it’s not my way, forget it” type, and thin skinned to boot!  I stand by my comment on Stein, Carty, Clark, Reddington…these council members are irresponsible to be using tax dollars to try and stop voter initiative; it’s a right we all retain. 

And, I still would like to know if Ted Rhodes lives in City limits?  He shows up at every hearing like he’s a citizen…but is he?

» on 08.12.09 @ 08:41 PM

The decision to appeal is fine by us!! That is what they are likely saying down at the old Hatch & Parent law firm now known as Brownstein, Hyatt, Farber & Schreck. A regular billing machine. There should be no complaints out of any of those lawyers who will be ‘churning’ this file for some more billable hours over the next few months. Does anybody happen to know what the cost estimate is to handle this appeal? Was that number ever presented to give the council members the chance to evaluate this decision from a cost effective business perspective? That dollar amount should be listed at the top of this story since the headline not long ago showed $180,000.00 had already been spent. How much will the extra effort of these legal giants undertaking this appeal work cost the City of Carpinteria? Can we have an estimate, please?

» on 08.12.09 @ 09:46 PM

We continue to make other countries rich by shunning that which creates wealth. Energy production via extraction of energy storage mediums (oil, coal, NG or water containment) provides wealth. It is real wealth because, unlike just moving stuff around (Keynesian), you are adding value to the economy (Keynesian economics actually creates a net drag because energy, time and material are all being consumed with no net increase in supply). You can hate oil and oil production all you want. You can call anyone who is smart enough to understand basic economics a shill all you want, but it will not change the underlying foundation of the economy. We stopped being a producer economy which made our country wealthy 50 years ago and decided to be nothing more than consumers. That’s fine and dandy as long as there are those willing to loan you the money you use to make. Now that is no longer true, so you have two choices, follow those who get in the way and obstruct everything and go bury your ignorant head in the dirt (make sure you leave your rump out there nice and exposed) and wait to be horribly screwed along with the next 5 generations (who will undoubtedly hate you for leaving them with your mess) or you can choose to be a producer economy again which means paying back the 40 years of borrowing you accumulated and then reaping the rewards of wealth creation.
For you idiots out there who believed screwing our producer industries with stupid regulations actually saved the environment, go down to Long Beach harbor and see the millions of tons of goods being shipped here and imagine what horrific damage we did to the environment by forcing manufacturing to be done half way around the world.
If you cannot see the unintended consequences of your actions or beliefs then step back and get out of the way before you finish dragging what is left of what was one of the most successful economies the world has ever known into the dumpster with you.

» on 08.13.09 @ 12:07 AM


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