Hermosa council votes to support Muratsuchi bill
The Hermosa Beach City Council is officially supporting an assembly bill that would enable the city to borrow $17.5 million from the State Tidelands Funds in order to help the city keep its ban on oil drilling.
Assembly Bill 2711 was introduced by Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi last month (D-Torrance.) Muratsuchi previously said if the bill passes through the state legislature, it would allow the residents of Hermosa Beach to vote on the oil proposal without having fear of the financial repercussions of voting against oil drilling. State Senator Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) has promised to work with Muratsuchi and “floor manage” the bill in the Senate. Under the terms of the proposed bill, Hermosa Beach would pay the loan back at a rate of $500,000 per year.
The city and E&B Natural Resources signed an agreement last year that would allow E&B to call for an election as soon as November to lift Hermosa’s ban on oil drilling. If successful, the ballot measure would allow E&B to install 30 oil wells at the city’s 1.3-acre maintenance yard. The agreement calls for the city to repay E&B $17.5 million if the ballot measure fails. E&B loaned the money to the city to help settle a lawsuit with Macpherson Oil. At the time, the city was facing up to $500 million in damages for having broken a 1984 agreement with Macpherson to allow oil drilling from the city maintenance yard.
In a 4-0 vote Monday night, council members expressed support for the bill.
While the city has set aside $6 million so far in the event that the ban on oil drilling is maintained, Mayor Michael DiVirgilio said that having the option to borrow the $17.5 million from the State Tidelands Funds would be helpful. However, DiVirgilio said he questioned the timing of the bill. Muratsuchi is seeking reelection in November and Lieu is a candidate for the 33rd Congressional District Seat.
“It’s very hard for me not to see this as gimmicky,” DiVirgilio said.
Still, DiVirgilio said he would support the bill on behalf of the city in Sacramento if need be and that he looked forward to AB 2711 passing.