Press Release: West Pico Drill Site

Press Release
From candidates running for Los Angeles City Controller in the 2022 elections.

We Support NASE’s Appeal to City Council (CF-21-1025) to Require Proper Environmental Review of the West Pico Drill Site and Rejection of Illegal Oil Drilling

LOS ANGELES, October 15, 2021 – 

We are three of the four candidates running for City Controller in the 2022 elections. We Support NASE’s Appeal to City Council (CF-21-1025) to Require Proper Environmental Review of the West Pico Drill Site and Rejection of Illegal Oil Drilling.

In June 2018, the current Controller, Ron Galperin, issued an excellent audit of the City’s regulation of the oil industry. The report made a thorough analysis and gave the City excellent recommendations that have generally not been implemented. Here is Controller Galperin’s summary of the purposes and major conclusions of his report (page i):

Controller Galperin also addressed the issue of environmental reviews required by the State’s California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), which had been a major failing of the City and the subject of a lawsuit the City settled in 2016. It seems the Department of City Planning and Office of the Zoning Administrator (DCP and OZA) misinformed the Controller about the supposed resolution of the problem. This is what Controller Galperin wrote about CEQA on page 7 of his report:

In fact, since the promulgation of ZA Memo 133 in September 2016, the DCP/OZA had processed 3 major oil drill site applications with improper Categorical Exemptions from Environmental Review under CEQA before the issuance of Controller Galperin’s report in June 2018 (4th Ave, Jefferson, and Rancho Park). Since then, DCP/OZA has processed two more major oil drill site cases with Categorical Exemptions (Jefferson and West Pico).

But the even more striking point buried in this is the DCP/OZA’s use of the word “applications.” That skirts the central problem that oil drill site operators in the City have repeatedly undertaken major projects without applying to the ZA for approval, which has been required by Municipal Code since 1945. The operators get away with this because the City does not do general compliance inspections and because – as the West Pico Drill Site case demonstrates – the DCP/OZA refuses to take action even when oil companies drill wells without the approvals required by City code.

It is important to underscore that project applications are what trigger review under CEQA. If projects are executed without the applications and approvals required by City law, then they are also executed without environmental review under CEQA. Both City and State law are violated, and it is the City’s obligation under both City and State law to see to it that does not happen.

The West Pico Drill Site case (CF 21-1025), Environmental Review, and Illegal Oil Drilling:

We join together in unison to tell the public and City Council that we demand proper Environmental Review at the West Pico Drill Site in CD5 (9101 & 9151 W. Pico Blvd, LA 90035), and we adamantly oppose the City’s tacit approval of illegal oil drilling. 

We support the appeal to overturn the improper Categorical Exemption from CEQA submitted to City Council by Neighbors for A Safe Environment (NASE), a local non-profit environmental organization in the CD5 community. We ask all Council Members to vote in favor of NASE’s appeal, which you can find here: Council File # 21-1025.

On January 1, 2023, there will be a new City Controller. We want the public and current members of City Council to know that if one of us wins election, we will not tolerate the evasion of legally required environmental reviews for oil drill sites, the evasion of legally required Zoning Administrator reviews for oil drill sites, and we will certainly not tolerate illegal oil drilling.  

By-right oil drilling is not allowed in urban Los Angeles. It is time for the City to obey, implement, and enforce its own laws. Proper Environmental Review is required by the State’s CEQA law, and it is the City’s obligation to do such reviews.

It is the City Controller’s job to audit the performance of City government, including its departments and agencies. Controller Galperin did that well in his June 2018 report on City oil regulation. 

If one of us is elected to be the next Controller, we promise to pick up the issues from Controller Galperin’s report and the continuing performance failures of City agencies, and to do all in our power to shine a light on it so that the public and City government can make appropriate changes. 

We are three of the four candidates running for election as City Controller. The fourth candidate did not sign the statement.

Kenneth Mejia – campaign contact: kmejia@mejiaforcontroller.com

David T Vahedi – campaign contact: david@vahediforcontroller.com

Rob Wilcox – campaign contact: rob@robforcontroller.com