Carpinteria’s city council voted to host up to three “impartial” public education presentations on Venoco oil company’s controversial plans to take its proposal for erecting a new slant-drilling platform directly to the voters. Councilmember Joe Armendariz opposed the presentations, arguing that the council—having spent $250,000 in legal fees against the Venoco initiative—was hardly impartial. In addition, Armendariz noted that the council would be voting in February whether to take a stand on the matter.
It appears that there are at least three councilmembers—a majority—who oppose the drilling project. On the other side, Carpinteria Mayor Greg Carty has been under pressure to recuse himself from voting on the presentations because his father, his father-in-law, and a tenant in a house he owns all signed the ballot statement in favor of the Venoco initiative.
Venoco has said the city could reap untold millions in oil royalties by approving the drilling platform, which would be located right behind City Hall. Critics argue that Venoco is seeking to bypass the city’s environmental review and planning process by taking the matter directly to city voters. Further, they’ve accused Venoco of exaggerating how much the city stands to make in oil royalties, arguing that the formula by which the California State Lands Commission would split the royalties with local governments remains to be determined. Whatever that is, they contend, proceeds would have to be split with the County of Santa Barbara as well. The election is slated for the ballot this June.