Anti-oil activists packed the Carpinteria City Council chambers on Monday night to urge the council to appeal a court ruling last week that ordered the Carp city attorney to process an initiative to put Venoco’s slant-drilling proposal to a vote of the people.
The city attorney, Peter Brown, had refused to process the initiative, which would bypass Carpinteria’s traditional environmental review procedure, on grounds that Venoco was improperly using the initiative avenue to secure a coastal development permit. Such permits, he unsuccessfully argued, were not constitutionally subject to initiative. The judge did not agree. The Carp City Council must now decide whether to appeal. Because Councilmember Brad Stein was absent from Monday’s meeting, the council deferred the decision until next week. But it was standing-room-only in the council chambers as critics of the initiative – and a handful of supporters, too – showed up to speak their piece.