Tuesday, September 26 , 2017, 8:35 am | Fair 58º

 
 
 
 

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).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click here to get started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.



Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >