In the face of a passionate group of residents who demanded that the city not even meet with the new owners of the Culver City oil fields, Monday’s City Council vote to talk with Sentinel Peak Resources was a difficult one.
But we believe it was both prudent and responsible for the future of our city.
Because the city’s Environmental Impact Report and Specific Plan are not yet ready, taking time to meet with Sentinel Peak Resources will not delay this process at all.
In short, the process will continue while discussions take place.
As the city continues its work on the environmental analysis, the City Council’s subcommittee will sit down with Sentinel Peak Resources during the next 90 days.
They will evaluate whether there is a reason to accept the new operator as an applicant for an EIR and, if so, agree on a workplan for developing a new specific plan and EIR.
If an agreement can be reached with Sentinel Peak Resources, there would be positive benefits for the city:
- Sentinel Peak Resources would reimburse the city for all the work in developing the EIR and Specific Plan going forward;
- Sentinel Peak Resources would have to volunteer to follow a “moratorium” and not submit any application for new drilling while this process with the subcommittee continues. (Currently, Sentinel Peak Resources can apply and start the approval process for new drilling at any time.)
- Sentinel Peak Resources would also have to agree to make this agreement survive and transfer to a new owner if it were to sell the oil field during this process.
The City Council subcommittee will return to the full Council with a progress report in 90 days.
At that time, with more feedback from the public, the Council can decide to continue working with Sentinel Peak Resources or release the original EIR and Specific Plan, which should be completed by then.
We remain hopeful that talking to Sentinel Peak Resources may lead to a better ultimate outcome for the community while we continue to move down the EIR path.
If discussions are not fruitful, we have lost nothing – not even time, since we’re not ready to release our EIR anyway.
It is important for us to continue working toward the best possible outcome for Culver City’s residents. That can only happen if we are willing to both listen and make our demands known.
Mr. Eriksson is a City Council member and Mr. Clarke is mayor of Culver City.