Residents Decry Drilling for Oil in Hermosa Beach

A measure to lift the ban on oil drilling in the city is on the 2014 ballot

Dozens of concerned residents in Hermosa Beach are expected to express their concerns about oil drilling Wednesday evening at a community forum at the town's theatre.

A proposed oil project would build 34 wells on a site now occupied by an old city maintenance yard on Sixth Street and Valley Drive.

Members of the Stop Hermosa Beach Oil group and representatives of E&B Natural Resources, the company behind a proposed oil project, are expected to attend the city-hosted meeting.

Among the residents who had planned on being at the forum is George Schmeltzer, former mayor of Hermosa Beach.

"This is the case of a very large oil company going up against a very small city," Schmeltzer said of E&B. "There are places that can be drilled safely without impact to neighbors, but that's not the case in Hermosa Beach."

E&B has set up a community room near the pier to educate residents about the proposed project, which it says is safe and could mean a $500 million boost to the city over the course of the project.

"We are committed to doing everything we can to make this project as safe as it can possibly be," said Steve Layton, president of E&B.

Oil companies have tried numerous times to drill in Hermosa Beach through the decades. Voters approved a ban on oil drilling in 1995. Under the terms of a settlement agreement with a previous oil company, however, a measure to lift the ban is on the 2014 ballot.

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