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OPINION page: City of Ojai does not support oil wells and gas flare for 25 years in Upper Ojai

MORE County of Ventura Flare 1

Screenshot from Ventura County Planning Division report on the project

Flare the Ventura County Board of Supervisors will consider allowing to flare gas full time for the next 25 years on Koenigstein Road. 

 

Letter from City of Ojai Community Development Manager Lucas Seibert to Ventura County Planning Division, regarding the Ventura County Board of Supervisors June 22 vote on whether to allow gas to be flared from the flare accompanying this letter off Koenigstein Road in Upper Ojai. It is Conditional Use Permit No. PL13-0158.

 

By Lucas Seibert

The city of Ojai is in receipt of the noticed Board of Supervisors hearing scheduled for June 22, 2021 at a time certain of 4 p.m.

The matter for consideration for the Board of Supervisors is the request for a modified CUP be granted to authorize the continued operation and maintenance of an existing oil and gas facility for an additional 25 years. 

The Ventura County Planning Division is recommending 20 years to be consistent with similar projects that were approved in the past three years in the immediately surrounding vicinity.  

City staff are very concerned with the complete lack of description provided within the first finding pursuant to Section 8111-1.2.1.1 of the NCZO (page 15 of 24 of the staff report). 

The first finding links back to sections of documents (Sections F through I and Exhibits 8 and 9) rather than specifically identifying the goals and policies which are required to comply with this type of development and its modifications. 

These goals and policies should be specific and correspond to the Ojai Valley Area Plan and the Ventura County General Plan, and sufficient detailed justification must be provided within this section for all findings to ensure clear understanding of how this project is consistent with the Ojai Valley Area Plan. 

Finding No. 3 includes several conditions regarding minimization of the effects of the oil and gas facility on neighboring properties and uses. However, annual monitoring and reporting requirements on the part of the applicant/owner are not included and must be included to ensure the 5-pounds-per-day threshold NOx and ROC emissions are met and not exceeded. The monitoring must also be posted for public review to ensure these levels are being maintained on an annual basis. 

If the reporting concludes the levels are being exceeded, then additional environmental review must take place, including notification and public hearing. If the levels are exceeded, all project work must cease and there must be a condition imposed that no work be done until there is a mitigation plan to ensure that the 5-pounds-per-day threshold NOx and ROC emissions limit is adhered to. 

Further, any such condition would also impose violations for exceeding the threshold and the city hopes that County Code Enforcement will continue to monitor compliance at the site. 

It is apparent that this project and its impacts are in conflict with Goal A of page OV-8 of the Ojai Valley Area Plan, which identifies as the primary goal to preserve and protect the character of the Ojai Valley and ensure and maintain the quality of life for its residents. 

This project is in direct conflict with this stated objective as it could potentially have significant impacts on quality of life and public health in the Ojai Valley. 

Furthermore, specific goals and policies have been included within the Ojai Valley Area Plan: OV – 37, OV-37.1, OV-37.2, OV-37.3, OV-37.4, and OV-37.5; yet none of these goals and policies have been addressed in the report or supporting information through the findings and justification statements within the report and required for consideration by the Board of Supervisors. 

The failure to address how this project impacts the stated objectives of these goals renders this report insufficient.    

The staff report is lacking in the justification or rationale to support the project, and it is for these reasons that the city of Ojai does not support the project and urges the Board of Supervisors to consider these facts in reviewing this matter. 

— Lucas Seibert is the Community Development manager for the city of Ojai.

 
 
Below is the Ojai Valley News article about the June 22 hearing and how to provide public comment on the issue:
web County of Ventura Oil wells

Photo courtesy County of Ventura

Three existing oil wells on the Agnew Lease in Upper Ojai.

 

Perry Van Houten, Ojai Valley News Senior Reporter

County supervisors continued to Tuesday, June 22 at 4 p.m. a public hearing on a permit for an oil and gas facility in Upper Ojai.


The board was scheduled to consider granting the permit for the facility on Koenigstein Road at its regular meeting June 15, but decided to continue the hearing at the request of Supervisor Kelly Long.

Long was unable to attend the hearing due to a scheduling conflict, but wished to vote on the item, said Supervisor Linda Parks.

The vote to continue the hearing was 4-0.

The modified permit sought by the applicant, Carbon California, would allow the operation of three existing oil wells and a gas facility, the use of a full-time gas flare, and truck access to the site for the next 25 years.

The project site, on the Agnew Lease, adjacent to Koenigstein Road, is located 5 miles east of Ojai, off Highway 150.

On Sept. 22, the Board of Supervisors held a hearing to consider Carbon California’s request for a permit allowing the drilling of two new wells, for a total of five wells, the re-drilling of an existing well, the flare and truck access.

Those plans came to the supervisors days before regulations on new oil and gas development contained in the 2040 Ventura County General Plan were due to take effect on Oct. 15.

The Sept. 22 hearing was continued to Jan. 26 to allow supervisors more time to review a modified conditional use permit and a final, revised environmental impact report on the project.

The delay would also give Planning staff time to provide supervisors with more information on the number of idle wells operated by the applicant in the county, as requested in an approved motion by Supervisor Linda Parks.

On Oct. 21, Carbon California requested the Jan. 26 hearing be continued. The property on which the wells are sited was sold on Jan. 29, according to county records.

Carbon modified the project on Jan. 25 to include the three existing wells, the full-time flare and truck access via Koenigstein Road.

Tuesday’s hearing was to be the continued Jan. 26 hearing.

According to the Planning staff report on the project currently being proposed, emissions from the project would be below the 5-pound per day threshold required by the Ojai Valley Area Plan. Climate First: Replacing Oil and Gas successfully sued the county over its interpretation that the 5-pound rule did not apply to oil-well emissions.

The 5-pound limit is unique to the Ojai Valley. In the rest of unincorporated Ventura County, a 25-pound per day threshold applies.

On June 15, Ojai Community Development Manager Lucas Seibert sent a letter to the Ventura County Planning Division stating the city of Ojai’s opposition to the project because of insufficient information in the staff report.

“The staff report is lacking in the justification or rationale to support the project, and it is for these reasons that the city of Ojai does not support the project and urges the Board of Supervisors to consider these facts in reviewing this matter,” Seibert wrote. (The letter is published on Page A6 of this edition of the Ojai Valley News.)

To view the comments on the project and the staff report, visit http://bosagenda.countyofventura.org/sirepub/agdocs.aspx?doctype=agenda&itemid=116094.

To view public comments, including from several Ojai Valley residents, at the Sept. 22, 2020 hearing on the permit request, visit http://bosagenda.countyofventura.org/sirepub/agdocs.aspx?doctype=agenda&itemid=111071.

To submit public comments to the supervisors by email, submit them by 3:30 p.m. Monday, June 21, to the clerk of the board at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Indicate in the subject line the agenda item number on which you are commenting. The email will be distributed to the Board of Supervisors and placed into the item's record of the board meeting.

Registration to make a comment via Zoom or phone is Monday, June 21 at 3:30 p.m. An email with the Zoom meeting link and password will be sent to each registrant by Monday, June 21, at 6 p.m. The registration site is https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/4016135214740/WN_nM0hy6yESwOQ2WnFqA1XvA.

For instruction on making comments via Zoom and phone at the public hearing, go to www.ventura.org/boscomment.

 

 
 

 

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