Oil initiative survives
A Santa Barbara County judge has invalidated a part of Venoco’s ballot initiative to approve slant drilling a site in Carpinteria into a lease offshore.
Earlier this year, Venoco filed papers for a Carpinteria ballot initiative for its Paredon project, which would use an onshore rig to tap an estimated 20 million barrels of offshore reserves on one of the firm’s leases over about 15 years. The initiative would bypass the Carpinteria City Council and Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors to put the project in line for approval from the State Lands Commission. In exchange for Carpinteria voters’ approval, Venoco would donate $1 million a year for the first five years of the project to the Carpinteria Education Foundation and give about 22 acres of the company’s land to the city. But the city filed suit to block the ballot measure, asking a judge to determine its legality. The city argued that the initiative violated the state constitution by giving administrative powers to the voters.
Judge Thomas P. Anderle did not agree completely. He ruled that the initiative did improperly take some of the city’s police powers but that Venoco could recirculate a revised petition for a new initiative later this fall, unless the city appeals the decision.