We’re just a little over one month away from the public vote on Measure O in Hermosa Beach, a ballot measure that, if passed, will lift Hermosa Beach’s decades-long ban on oil drilling.
The measure has members of the beach cities aflutter with debate and conservation, and has even made its way into headlines and city meetings in Santa Monica and beyond. Whichever side of Measure O you fall on, I believe that any issue of this magnitude should be understood by those in the community. With that being said, here is a primer to get you ready for the March 3 vote.
E&B Natural Resources: The oil and gas company whose proposal calls for the drilling of 30 wells in the tidelands at Sixth and Valley Drive.
Stop Hermosa Beach Oil: Opponents of Measure O
Protect Hermosa’s Future: Proponents of Measure O
The 5 Actions of Measure O
Amend the city’s coastal land use plan, which is part of Hermosa Beach’s general city plan;
Amend its municipal code to exempt E&B’s project from a citywide ban on oil drilling;
Approve a development agreement between E&B and the city that would guarantee some financial benefits from E&B and impose various conditions on the E&P company;
Approve a pipeline franchise allowing E&B to build and operate pipelines for carrying oil and natural gas from the project; and
Adopt a statement that the project’s potential financial benefits outweigh its “identified, unavoidable environmental impacts.”
Key Dates in Hermosa Oil Drilling
1932: Hermosa Beach banned oil drilling.
1984: Voters overturned the 1932 ban with the idea of purchasing Santa Fe Railroad right-of-way for open space.
1995: After acquiring the Santa Fe right-of-way with funds from the county, Hermosa voted to reinstate the ban on oil drilling.
2012: A settlement agreement was reached between the city council and E&B, allowing the latter to ask residents to lift the ban on drilling. The agreement stated that, if the ban is not lifted, the city would owe $17.5 million to E&B.
February 2014: The over-1,000-page Environmental Impact Report (EIR) were made public, along with the Cost Benefit Assessment and Health Impact Analysis.
July 2014: The city council and E&B agreed to push the vote from November 2014 until March 2013.
September 2014: The final cost-benefit estimates were released, suggesting that Hermosa beach would bring in between $118 million and $270 million over 35 years if the ban was overturned.
November 2014: The measure was added to the ballet by a split council vote of 3 to 2.
December 2014: A Superior Court judge threw out a suit from drilling proponents that sought to soften the ballet argument from those opposed to drilling.
March 3, 2015: Voters will hit the polls to vote on Measure O and decide the future of oil drilling in Hermosa Beach.
What Drilling Proponents Are Saying
- The city stands to receive between $118 million and $270 million in oil royalties over the 35-year project. E&B estimates are nearly double that.
- If the project is blocked, the city will have to return a loan to E&B, of which $6 million has been set aside but $11.5 million will have to be accounted for. This translates into $850,000 to $1.1 million a year for the next two to three decades.
- The project will create short- and long-term jobs in the community.
- Around 1000 Hermosa property owners will receive royalty payments for their mineral right, which may amount to $100,000 over the project’s lifetime.
What Drilling Opponents Are Saying
- With no debt and an annual budget of approximately $40 million, Hermosa is financially sound and will be able to pay the settlement to E&B without increasing taxes or forgoing public services.
- It is not clear how the city would be allowed to spend the anticipated oil revenue. (Read more)
- Drilling is neither clean nor safe, and air pollution will be problematic over the course of the 35-year project.
- With 50 percent of Hermosa Beach resident within a mile of the proposed drilling sites, a huge chunk of the population will be impacted by constant light, noise, and noxious odors — factors that will also lead to decreased property values and tourism.
- Seismic events are well-documented side effects of the proposed type of drilling, and E&B would be allowed to drill under any part of Hermosa Beach, including beneath homes, school, and the ocean floor.
- Traffic flows along major school and commuting routes will be disrupted as an estimated 10,500 miles of heavy-truck traffic will be added during the first 10 months of construction. Subsequent hauling and other activities will take place over the life of the project, which will lead to on-going increases in area traffic.