Mayor Peter Tucker to Vote “No on O”
Tucker Called it the Biggest Issue to Ever Face this City
I am Voting ‘No’ on Oil
I Felt that this Community Needs to Hear That
Tucker does not Believe E&B’s Oil Proposal is a Good Fit for Hermosa Beach
In a surprising twist to Tuesday night’s oil discussions in Hermosa Beach, Mayor Peter Tucker announced he intends to vote “no on O,” the oil production ballot measure that will either pass on March 3 to allow drilling or lose to uphold the ban. Tucker called it the “biggest issue to ever face this city,” and is urging all voters to get informed.
“I know how I voted on every issue,” Tucker said. “I’ve been asked by one group to write the argument rebuttal for one of the initiatives, and that group was to rebut the ‘yes’ on oil. So I am voting ‘no’ on oil. I felt that this community needs to hear that.”
It was an unexpected announcement, as Tucker has remained silent about his personal opinion regarding oil since the settlement agreement was reached in 2012. He stood by the decision to settle as a strong move to alleviate the pressure of a lawsuit that could have bankrupted the city.
If voters approve the project, the city stands to earn $118 to $270 million throughout a 34-year period, according to the Cost Benefit Analysis prepared by independent consultants at Kosmont Companies. Between 37 to 42 percent would go to the General Fund and the city would pay approximately $13.5 million to temporarily or permanently relocate the city yard. The city would also pay E&B $3.5 million. If voters reject the project, the current oil ban will remain in effect citywide and Hermosa Beach will have to pay E&B $17.5 million, per the settlement agreement. The city has already set aside $6 million for the potential debt and the remainder would be financed.
Tucker said he felt that he had fulfilled his promise to E&B Natural Resources to present a fair case to the voters.
“We got everything ready for the voters and that’s what this council was to do,” Tucker said. “That’s the commitment I made … that we would do the best job we could to be the fairest for both sides to put this on the ballot, and I think we have done that.”
Tucker pointed to his commitment to the environment and said that ultimately, he does not believe E&B’s oil proposal is a good fit for Hermosa Beach.
“I love this city,” Tucker said. “I’m involved in the environmental … I can look with pride to what we’ve done with that ocean out there to make it clean again, what we’ve done for the environment here in this community and how we’ve moved forward on our sustainability.”
At the same time, Tucker said he intends to remain neutral as a Council body and will stand by the city’s promise to be an unbiased clearinghouse of information.
Tucker is the third Council member to come out against oil. He joins Mayor Pro Tem Nanette Barragan and Councilman Hany Fangary, both of whom ran on anti-oil campaign platforms in 2013’s City Council elections.
Councilman Michael DiVirgilio, who negotiated the settlement agreement along with former Councilman Kit Bobko, has remained committed to his belief that the decision is up to the residents, deeming his opinion unnecessary. He did not elaborate on Tuesday night.
Councilwoman Carolyn Petty has also declined to share her view on the project, and said that ultimately it is up to voters to weigh the financial and economic value of the proposed project.
Tucker’s announcement came during the public comment portion of the council meeting. Many people from the anti-oil side called on the council to take a stand, both as individuals and as a Council. Meanwhile, oil proponent Martha Logan said she would wholeheartedly support Council members sharing their personal opinions, but cautioned against the legality of a Council resolution.
Fangary intended to ask City Council to consider a resolution to oppose the ballot measure, but asked to postpone his request to the council’s Dec. 16 meeting. Barragan, a likely ally in Fangary’s request, was unable to attend the full meeting due to an illness, and he wanted her present.
Listed as an “other request” on the agenda, the call for a resolution would require two votes to direct city staff to add it to a future agenda.
In other news, City Clerk Elaine Doerfling addressed rumors about linguistic changes in the arguments in favor and against Measure O. She said after reviewing both arguments, turned in on Dec. 1, she found statements in both that assumed E&B would obtain all necessary permits and find oil during test drilling to move forward with full production.
Due to the speculative nature of the assumption, she asked both sides to amend verbiage to reflect the possibility of full oil production rather than its certainty.
She thanked both sides for complying with her request and said that residents can find the original and amended arguments on the city website. Due to the dispute, Doerfling extended the deadline for the rebuttals by one day to Friday, Dec. 12.
Photo by Chris Miller
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