Money and Environment at City Hall
Monday, May 5, the Hermosa Beach City Council held a study session that looked at the Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA) and directed Kosmont, the agency that put together the CBA, to review and look at the financial impact of the oil agreement. Mayor Michael Divirgillo steadfastly reminded the community that there is ‘zero’ threat of bankruptcy to the city and that that the yearly payment for the settlement if the voters maintain the ban is only 3% of the City’s annual budget and is, “nothing to be feared.”
Kosmont was directed by the City Council to prepare a written proposal and cost estimate to be reviewed by the City Council that would:
- Survey real estate brokers and sellers regarding property values during all phases of the project.
- Look at the compensation agreement that McPherson had regarding property values in the original oil agreement.
- Review all data that is available in Redondo Beach regarding previous drilling projects
- Directed that the CBA should be completed only after the Environmental Impact Report is final so that the data regarding mitigation costs can be factored into the report. Also the tidelands money revenue needs to be more clearly stated. More specifically how much revenue is given to Macpherson from the agreement and where will that stream come from?
- The CBA is to be delivered in a timely matter, no later than August.
At the conclusion of the meeting the City Council unanimously decided to support Assembly Bill 2711, a bill sponsored by Assemblyman Al Marisutchi and State Senator Ted Lieu. AB2711 would give Hermosa Beach an interest free loan from the Tidelands Trust to pay off the oil settlement take our yearly payments down from an estimated $800,000 a year to an estimated $500,000 a year for 20 years saving the city $10 Million if passed.
On Saturday, May 10, Project Manager Ed Almonza hosted a Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) Study Session with City Council, The Planning Commision and City Staff that was held in council chambers with Marine Research Services (MRS), the authors of the DEIR. Mr. Almanza set out a timetable:
- June 5—Final EIR released (available on line).
- Week of June 23—Planning Commission to hold public hearing; recommendation regarding certification of EIR
- Week of July 14—City Council to hold public hearing; recommendation regarding certification of EIR
- July 22—City Council public hearings to consider the Ballot Measure
- November 4, 2014 Ballot Measure goes to the polls
Mr. Almonza further reported that the EIR was on track to be certified by the July 22 deadline unless the public agencies did not find the document CEQA compliant and could not certify it or if the public was “not listening to what and EIR is…” Mr. Almonza added that, “What strengthens and fortifies the EIR will be included what is outside the scope of the EIR will not be included in the final draft…”
There were many questions regarding the Final EIR, a major highlight was when Council Woman Nanette Barragan asked MRS Project Manager Luis Perez about the ‘No Project’ option in the EIR. Luis Perez stated that, “The environmentally superior option for this project is the ‘No Project’ option and it will be more clearly written into the final EIR.” This is a major revelation from the Project Manager and one that can be used often when discussing the issue with our community members that are still unsure about the project.
Planning Commissioner Ron Pizer questioned the current 33 foot set back from well pad to surrounding businesses and stated that the lack of easement is in direct violation of LA County fire code 5706 that requires a set back of 100 feet. MRS representatives stated that mitigation, such as a fire wall would have to be approved by LA County Fire before the project could move forward if it were to be approved by the voters.
Finally, the Agenda for City Council was released on Thursday and a report from the sub- committee negotiating the Development Agreement between the city and E&B stated in part that:
Election Timing: E&B Representatives expressed doubt that the EIR will be ready for certification in time to meet the City’s stated intention to place the measure on the November, 2014 ballot. E & B’s legal counsel further asserted that the settlement agreement gives E&B the right to dictate the timing of the election. The City Attorney reiterated his view that nothing precludes the Council from proceeding with a November election. The parties agreed to reserve their respective positions and continue Development Agreement discussions while understanding that a formal dispute may arise out of this disagreement.
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