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Goleta City Council Looks at Regulations for Oil Facilities

The Goleta City Council's first meeting of the year was a busy one, as it looked at tighter regulations for its oil and gas works and took a stand on Goleta Beach.

The Goleta City Council on Tuesday voted unanimously to approve a pair of ordinances placing new regulations in place with regards to changes to owners, operators or guarantors of the oil facilities in the city. In Goleta, these ordinances apply primarily to the facilities at Ellwood: the Ellwood Onshore Processing Facility, Pipeline 96, and State Lease 421 — the last two oil piers on the West Coast.

The ordinances are part of several related measures being taken to address the issues that may arise when a new oil company takes over older facilities.

“History has shown that the hand-off of offshore and coastal onshore oil and gas permits, leases, facilities and operations from one energy company to another has not gone smoothly up and down the coast of Santa Barbara County,” stated the staff report. “Venoco is no exception.”

Furthermore, stated the report, business practices may tend towards limiting the liabilities of the operators, as in the case of Greka Energy, which is a subsidiary of Saba Enterprises.

Specifically, the ordinances approved by the council would establish regulations that would require the new owners and operators to accept existing land use rules and permit conditions on the facilities; to demonstrate that they can operate the facilities safely; and to guarantee that they can cover the expenses incurred by emergency response, accident cleanup, and decommissioning or abandonment.

These ordinances do not apply retroactively to Venoco, the current operators of the facilities in Goleta.

Later this year, Goleta city staff will be working on rules regarding the decommissioning and abandonment of oil and gas facilities, and their related financial responsibilities.

Council supports Goleta Beach stabilization

The Goleta City Council threw their support behind one of two potential alternatives being looked at for Goleta Beach, which has been the subject of close scrutiny for years because of erosion issues that threaten to eat up valuable real estate at that park.

Council members voted to support the Beach Stabilization/Permeable Pile Groin alternative, which would not only preserve the existing beach, but would create a wider shore. The project entails several rows of timber piles driven into the seabed in rows perpendicular to the shore, adjacent to the Goleta Pier. The structure would retain sand, preventing erosion, and would eventually be used to extend the adjacent pier deck.

The other major alternative would be to conduct a managed retreat, where the shore would be allowed to erode, while facilities on the beach were relocated more inland.

Goleta Beach is not within the city’s jurisdiction, but in light of the many users of the beach from Goleta, the council voted to send a letter of support for the permeable groin alternative and appoint Council member Jonny Wallis as representative of Goleta to the Board of Supervisors on this issue.

Council looks into "subtle conversion" of mobile home park

While Goleta city staff and representatives of Rancho Mobile Homes park owner Daniel Guggenheim are duking it out over the potential subdivision of Rancho Mobile Home Park in western Goleta, just across Hollister Avenue from that neighborhood, what is being termed a “subtle conversion” is apparently in progress at Wayside Village. Instead of a subdivision into condos, owners of the property at 7368 Hollister Ave. are seemingly evolving the mobile home park into an RV camp, leading to concerns that the city’s affordable housing stock may be further eroded.

“The city’s paying attention,” said Director of Planning and Environmental Services Steve Chase, adding that staff is still in the first phases of research and investigation.

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