Hermosa Beach Defeats Oil Drilling Measure

HermosaBeachVote.jpg

Voters in the quirky oceanfront community of Hermosa Beach struck down a measure that would have allowed Bakersfield-based E&B Natural Resources to drill as many as 34 oil wells within city limits.

With 1,016 votes in favor and 3,799 votes opposed — a turnout of more than a third of eligible voters — Measure O was handily rejected. The defeat came as welcome news to the activists who waged a years-long campaign against lifting the ban.

"I'm feeling a lot of relief this morning," said Mike Collins, who lives about 50 yards from where E&B proposed to drill. "The middle of somebody's neighborhood is not a place for a new oil exploration."

But the rejection of Measure O puts the city of 20,000 residents on the hook to pay E&B $17.5 million, a sum that was stipulated in a settlement agreement brokered in 2012. In the early 1990s, the city approved a lease with an oil company, but then reversed course and halted drilling in 1995, spawning years of litigation.

To finance the $17.5-million fee, about $6 million has already been set aside in a reserve account, City Manager Tom Bakaly said. The remainder will be paid off in annual installments of about $800,000. The city will meet with E&B regarding repayment of the loan and once the results are certified and final, the City Council will review financing options, Bakaly said.

This was taken from a story originally published on LA Times.


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