CCC gets application aimed at restoring local wetlands

Logo of California Coastal Commission

The California Coastal Commission will look at an application to restore the Los Cerritos wetlands and develop oil facilities within the wetlands on Dec. 13. Coastal Commission staff has recommended approval. The staff report recommends that the CCC find the project “remains inconsistent with the Coastal Act’s oil spill and visual policies.” At the same time, the staff report said, “However, the project is eligible for consideration under the Coastal Act’s Section 30260 ‘override’ policy.” Bottom line: staff recommends approving the application.

The hearing will be held in the Newport Beach Civic Center City Council Chambers at 100 Civic Center Dr., in Newport Beach.

As previously reported in the Sun, the project received partial approval from the Coastal Commission in August 2018.

Critics of the project have raised concerns about the potential visual and noise impacts of the project.

Ann Cantrell, Citizens for Responsible Planning, has expressed concern about proposed slant drilling for oil in the wetlands.

“The slant drilling will be taking place adjacent to one of the last salt marshes in So. CA, the Los Cerritos Wetlands. The 120 oil and water wells are to be drilled very near the Newport/Inglewood fault. (Fault line shown in red; drilling sites are yellow and orange rectangles on map.) This area is heavily populated and contains main access streets and the 405 and 22 Freeways, less than one mile to the north,” she said.

The Coastal Commission staff report, however, said, “Implementing this project, as strictly conditioned, will provide more certainty that existing operations will cease and move onto a much smaller area (12 acres total) allowing for restoration of the 102-acre area to happen sooner than might otherwise occur.”

The project area is located in the Long Beach portion of the wetlands, which overlaps the borders of Long Beach and Seal Beach. However, part of the project area—the part known as “the Pumpkin Patch”—is close to the Seal Beach border.

“In this coastal development permit (“CDP”) application, Beach Oil Minerals (“BOM”) and the Los Cerritos Wetlands Authority (“LCWA”) propose to decommission and remove existing oil development operations on two sites within the Los Cerritos wetlands complex (the “Synergy” and “City” sites) and consolidate oil production operations on two smaller sites (the “Pumpkin Patch” and “LCWA” sites),” according to the Coastal Commission staff report.

Coastal staff is taking comments by email until 5 p.m., Friday, Dec. 7. The commission will consider five items while looking at this application:

• A proposal to build two oil production facilities (and up to 120 new wells)

• A proposal to build a 2,200 foot oil pipeline (above ground)

• A proposal to build a visitor’s center for the wetlands

• A proposal to close existing oil facilities at two locations n the wetlands

• A proposal to restore the wetlands.

“Through a land swap, the LCWA would be the eventual owner and manager of the entire Synergy site. Although BOM would implement the restoration work on the northern portion of the site, LCWA would manage the wetlands over the long term. Once the oil facilities have been removed from the southern portion of the Synergy site, LCWA would take ownership of this portion of the site with the intent to restore the southern half of the site once funding is available,” the report said.