Carpinteria voters will decide on Venoco’s Paredon slant drilling project when they head to the polls next June, the Carpinteria City Council decided on 12/14. The company recently turned in the more than 1,000 signatures required for a ballot initiative. Though there were concerns that the board’s authority was being circumvented-most prominently its ability to conduct thorough environmental review-the board’s choices were limited to approving the project right then and there or putting the issue on the ballot.
The city, under the belief the process is legally defective, is still appealing a judge’s decision earlier this year that the proposal is constitutional. Citizens have said the project isn’t allowed by the city’s current zoning ordinance, and that the project would potentially be a risk to the public’s safety and health. A spokesperson for Venoco told the council the project would still have to undergo review by other governing bodies, including the California Coastal Commission. While city staff has suggested the project -which includes an onshore setup of a rig up to 175 feet tall between City Hall, the Arbol Verde neighborhood, the Pacific Ocean, and the Carpinteria Bluffs that would slant-drill offshore for the next 30 years-could devalue homes in the surrounding neighborhood by 10 to 15 percent, Venoco predicts Carpinteria would receive between $15 million and $108 million from the project. A strong opposition to the project has risen, in the form of a group called Citizens Against Paredon, in what is sure to be a hot-button issue as the June primary nears.