When the profits and politics of oil collide in a small town, it puts business owners in a sticky spot.
In June, the voters of Carpinteria, a seaside town of 14,200, will decide whether to allow Denver-based Venoco to drill an offshore oil lease from a 175-foot onshore rig concealed in a lighthouse façade. After trying to get the so-called Paredon Project through the city’s approval process for several years, Venoco gathered signatures last year to take its proposal directly to voters, offering to give a cut of profits to local governments and schools.
The move has kicked off lawsuits and contentious public hearings, along with a vote by the Carpinteria City Council to officially oppose the ballot measure. It has left the city’s business community divided as well.