History

1919 - TIdelands Grant to Hermosa Beach by State of California

1921 - Oil discovered in Long Beach

1923 - Torrance Oil Field developed by oilman and real estate developer Jared Sidney Torrance.

1929 - Attorney Gus O'Connor instigated a ban on oil drilling in Hermosa Beach.  

1932 - Hermosa Beach voters passed No-Drilling Ordinance within the city limits.

1955 - Bandini Oil Co. signed up residents in south Hermosa for oil rights

1956 - Redondo Beach granted approval to Signal Oil & Gas for a drill site at Redondo Beach Marina (Harbor Dr. & Portofino Way) for tidelands wells.

1957 - Shell & Continental Oil Cos. proposed an oil drilling contract with the Hermosa City Council.

1957 - 3 Public oil drilling hearings were held by the Hermosa Beach City Council

1957 - (December) Hermosa Beach City Council accepted $500,000 bonus to call election to rescind oil drilling ban.

1958 - (February 25) Election to rescind oil drilling defeated.  Shell failed to rescind the ban, but still paid the city the $500,000, which was used to help build the city pier that since has been replaced with a new one.  This effort was led by long time resident, hero and current resident Barbara Guild pictured above.  Of the 7,000 registered in Hermosa Beach 50% turned out to vote.
Rescind oil drilling ban vote:  No = 2,325 (57%) / Yes = 1,815 (43%)  

1959 - 4 City Council Member recalled in election

1976 - Windward Associates (hereinafter “Macpherson”) initially proposed developing oil in the tidelands of Hermosa Beach in 1976, from a City of Hermosa Beach site known as the old Biltmore Hotel property at 15th Street and The Strand. That proposal was withdrawn in the face of strong local support for the continuance of a citywide ban on oil development dating back to the 1930s. Macpherson Oil Company proposed developing oil resources in the tidelands of Hermosa Beach and was a leading force in placing the 1984 ballot measures before the voters.
Hermosa Beach Resident, Barbara Guild 1958

1984 - Macpherson & others began obtaining subsurface "town lot" oil and gas leases from private property owners in Hermosa Beach to get community revenue participation.  Hermosa voters approved Measure P and Measure Q, allowing limited oil drilling, in part to fund a city purchase of the greenbelt parkway where railroad tracks used to lie.  The measure passed by a narrow margin.

1985 - Don Macpherson moves to Hermosa Beach and joined the Chamber of Commerce.

1985 - City of Hermosa Beach adopts Oil Code Ordinance 85-803 provides for the establishment of an oil code.  Municipal code 5.56.000E adopted June 25, 1985.  The ordinance recited the City Council's intent to allow for oil production "in a manner that protects the health, safety, and welfare of citizens in Hermosa Beach.  Section 21A-2.3 of the code provides, "No person shall be issued a drilling permit until the same has been approved by the Building and Safety Director with concurrence by the Planning Director, and found to be in compliance with all applicable laws, ordinances and regulations.

1986 - the City Council awarded a lease to Macpherson Oil Company for the slant-drilling project on the city-owned maintenance yard at Sixth and Valley Drive.  City solicited sealed bids to obtian a lease on the Maintenance property yard.  Macpherson was the only bidder, largely because the invitation to bid wasn't published in an oil trade journal or news media.

1992 - Redondo Beach revises its zoning ordinances. Oil and gas development is not listed in any zone district. By this time, the Redondo Beach tidelands drilling site, which had been producing 96% water and encountering deadly H2S gas, was shutting down. Read the Coastal Commission Staff Report.

Former HB City Attorney Assistant Edward Lee 
January, 1992 - The City of Hermosa Beach executes a new lease with the applicant to authorize drilling for both onshore and offshore oil from the same site. Read this memo in the State Lands Commission file from Legal Counsel Frey to Al Willard of the SLC with comments on Lee's response.  Did you know that Edward F. Lee was the Hermosa Beach City Attorney assistant to Charles Vose in 1992?  He was is same man the City of Bell had for their City Attorney when the councilmen and others got in trouble and the City of Bell had to declare bankruptcy. The City of Bell filed a malpractice lawsuit against City Attorney Edward Lee and his two law firms, alleging that they were given faulty legal advice.  Edward F. Lee (See LA Times) Read Wikipedia on City of Bell fiasco.

July 1992 - State Lands Commission Concludes there was no competitive bidding for the tidelands exploration. Macpherson was the sole bidder, and no one else was notified of the opportunity, particularly the oil company that was drilling in the Redondo Beach tidelands was in the perfect situation to drill into Hermosa's and began sucking 96% water. The State Lands Commission letter is pretty clear on what should be amended in the lease.  Here is Hermosa Beach City Attorney Edward Lee's response letter.

August, 1993 - The Hermosa Beach City Council certifies an Addendum to the EIR and approves a Conditional Use Permit for the proposed project.

August, 1993 - The Hermosa Beach Stop Oil Coalition files a petition for Writ of Mandamus the Los Angeles Superior Court against the California State Lands Commission (CSLC), challenging CSLC’s decision to approve a tidelands lease agreement between the Macpherson Oil Company and the City of Hermosa Beach.

September, 1993 - The Macpherson Oil Company submits an application to the Coastal Commission for a coastal development permit for the proposed project.

October, 1993 - the group Hermosa Beach Stop Oil, led by Fogg, who lives across the greenbelt from the proposed drilling site, filed a lawsuit alleging that Macpherson’s project would violate state law as well as Measures P and Q. (The oil money was no longer needed for the greenbelt, which the city bought with voter-approved bonds.)

January, 1994 - The Los Angeles court finds that the State, in approving the lease agreement between the Macpherson Oil Company and the City of Hermosa Beach, had not explicitly found that the leasing of the tidelands was in the best interest of the State. The California State Lands Commission (CSLC) at further public hearings reaffirms its decision and determines it was in the best interest of the State to approve the lease agreement.

March 1994 - Meeting of the State of California Lands Commission.  Read the testimony from  Hermosa Beach City Manager, Steve Burrell, Hb City Attorney Edward Lee, Don Macpherson & Jan Chatten-Brown attorney for Stop Oil.

1994 - Why were Hermosa Beach City Attorneys Charles Vose and Edward Lee replaced by new Hermosa Beach City Attorney Michael Jenkins of RWG law firm in 1994?

May, 1994 - The Los Angeles court finds that the CSLC had complied with the orders and directions of the court and the judge grants an order discharging the Peremptory Writ of Mandate filed by the Hermosa Beach Stop Oil Coalition in August, 1993.

September, 1994 - The lawsuit filed by the Stop Oil Coalition in September, 1993, results in a determination by the court that the 1.3-acre oil drilling project violates the size restrictions in the referendum measure and the Conditional Use Permit is invalid.

January, 1995 - Macpherson withdraws coastal development permit application.

November 7, 1995  - Hermosa Beach updates municipal code § 21A.2.3. (Ord. 95-1139 § 2, 1995; prior code § 21-10)

1995 -  City Official John Bowler (Mayor), Julie Oakes (Mayor Pro Tem), J.R. Reviczky, Sam Edgerton, Robert Benz (see Election History)

November, 1995 - ***Ballot Measure E passes in Hermosa Beach ***, stripping local ordinances of the provisions for the limited oil and gas development authorized by Measures P and Q, and effectively re-establishing the total ban on oil and gas development within city limits. Hermosa voters approved Measure E, which was backed by Stop Oil and once again banned all drilling in the city. The City Council questioned whether the measure applied to drilling already under contract, and refused to halt Macpherson’s project. Stop oil drilling vote:  Yes = 2,505 (57%) / No = 1,940 (43%)

*** City Attorney Michael Jenkins (employee of RWJ Law Firm) was providing city attorney services for the City of Hermosa Beach also writes impartial analysis of the Voter pamphlet on Measure E.  Jenkins stated the the legal ramifications were "unknown"and the pamphlet failed to mention the legal possibility of a breach of contract law suit which could entitle Macpherson Oil to hundreds of millions in lost profits.  What impact do this omission have on the election results below?  Both Kit Bobko and Michael Jenkins were employees of RWG at this time. ***

June, 1996 - The Macpherson Oil Company and the City of Hermosa Beach appeal the court’s decision in 1994 regarding the validity of the Conditional Use Permit. The Court of Appeals rules in their favor, reversing the decision of the trial court and validating the Conditional Use Permit. The matter is sent back to trial court in Los Angeles for further proceedings on the CEQA issues.

November, 1996 - Macpherson submits a new application to the Coastal Commission for a coastal development permit.

February, 1997 - The City of Hermosa Beach submits a draft LUP amendment package for preliminary, informal review by Coastal Commission staff. Commission staff suggest a LUP amendment defining and applying an appropriate energy or industrial land use designation for the proposed site, accompanied by the necessary policies to provide for such development

April, 1997 - The Los Angeles trial court denies Writ of Mandate on the CEQA issues raised in 1994 by the Stop Oil Coalition.

June, 1997 - The Stop Oil Coalition files notice of appeal of judgment denying Writ of Mandate on the CEQA issues.

June, 1997 - Stop Oil Coalition files lawsuit asserting that Measure E applies retroactively to the proposed Macpherson Oil project. Lawsuit is still pending.

June, 1997 - City of Hermosa Beach staff notifies Coastal Commission staff that the City’s history of various ballot measure approvals and general plan amendments must suffice as adequate policy consideration of the Macpherson proposal and that no further LUP amendments will be submitted by the City.

July, 1997 - Macpherson agrees to suspend further processing of application while the proposal undergoes a third-party review of the hazard risk analysis. Arthur D. Little, Inc., an independent engineering consulting firm, begins its assessment of the risks from the proposed project.

September, 1997 - Arthur D. Little, Inc. preliminary review completed.

September, 1997 - The Hermosa Beach Stop Oil Coalition abandons appeal of judgment denying Writ of Mandate on the CEQA issues.

November, 1997 - Macpherson revises coastal development permit application to state that no wells will be produced that exceed 40 ppm hydrogen sulfide and agrees to remove hydrogen sulfide treatment equipment from the project plans (added after the Conditional Use Permit was approved), keeping the project consistent with the City’s CUP.

December, 1997 - Final Arthur D. Little, Inc. review of hazard analysis is released.

January, 1998 - Macpherson’s coastal development permit application is filed. Commission staff report prepared.

February, 1998 - Coastal Commission public hearing on permit application scheduled for February 4, 1998.

1998 - The City Council halted the project by unilaterally canceling Macpherson’s lease contract, declaring the project too hazardous to the safety of Hermosans.  Councilman Sam Edgerton took part in the 3-0 decision to halt the drilling project in 1998. Councilman J.R. Reviczky, had a conflict of interest because his home stood near the proposed drilling location, and that conflict of interest rendered him ineligible to vote.  Read our questions on possible conflicts of interest in the 2012 settlement vote

1998 - Macpherson filed his own lawsuit, alleging breach of contract by the city.
2000 - Superior Court judge ruled that the city indeed breached Macpherson’s contract, and told the city to let him drill. The judge denied Macpherson any monetary damages for the breach.

2001 - State appeals court sided with Stop Oil, reversing a lower court and ruling that the measure did indeed ban oil drilling. Macpherson sought an appeal before the California Supreme Court, which refused to hear the case and let the drilling ban stand. So Macpherson could not drill. But he continued to fight the breach-of-contract lawsuit up and down the superior and appellate courts, still hoping to collect monetary damages from the city.

2001 - Michael Jenkins leaves RWG Law Firm to start new firm JENKINS & HOGIN, LLP is a South Bay-based law firm formed in 2001 which specializes in the practice of municipal law


2001 - Michael Jenkins leaves RWG Law Firm to start new firm Jenkins & Hogin, LLP  South Bay-based law firm formed in 2001 specializing in the practice of municipal law.  City of Hermosa Beach has spent over $3M+ defending Macpherson Oil.

November 2006 - Bobko of RWG Law Firm elected to Hb City Council

2008 - Whisper around town is that it is in "the City's best interest to settle the deal vs go to trial".   Why are our City's attorney's telling to settle and what published evidence do they have to claim this?

March 2008 - Sam Edgerton questions City’s lawyers if they have ignored a line of attack that he believes could turn the legal tide back in City's favor. Why was this never done? Read Easy Reader article

May 2008 - Kit Bobko, “There is the best-case option, and then there are others that aren’t as good.” Bobko declined to elaborate, citing an agreement between the two parties to keep the details secret.  Read Easy Reader Article

November 2009 - Dukos and Fishman elected to City Council (see article)

November, 2011 - Divirgilio and Tucker re-elected to HB City Council (see article)

Fall, 2011 -  Donald Macpherson and Former Hermosa Beach City Councilmen Gary Brutsch rekindle deal on a plane to Hawaii.  (see article)

December, 2011 - "Illness of one of the attorney’s family members" postpones jury trial to April.  Hb Attorney Michael Jenkins said, “The postponement has no effect on trial preparation.” Jenkins said there has been no effort to negotiate a settlement.  Was this true? (see The Beach Reporter News article)

January, 2012 - Jury Trial Macpherson Oil vs Hermosa Beach set for January, 18 2012.  The jury trial will determine whether or not Hermosa Beach officials acted appropriately when voiding its oil-drilling contract with Macpherson in 1998 out of concern for public safety. Macpherson is seeking an estimated $700 million in damages from lost revenue he claims would have been collected by slant drilling into the Pacific Ocean via Hermosa Beach. (see The Beach Reporter News article)

January 18, 2012 - Jury Trial Date Set Begin and postponed to April due to "Attorney Family Matters".  (see article)

January, 2012 - Bobko leads and begins negotiations on behalf of Hb City Council with Macpherson and E&B Oil.  (Bobko does not own a home in Hermosa Beach and still works for RWG law firm)  Does Bobko have a conflict interest? (see article)

March, 2012 - E&B Oil buys out Macpherson Oil for $30M.

March, 2012 - City enters into agreement with E&B Oil that will let voters decide whether to “pay settlement of $17.5M to E&B Natural Resources” or allow E&B to drill.  (Settlement fact sheet)

March 2, 2012 - City Council spinning a Oil Deal PR campaign like the deal was a "bargain".  (see Press Release)

March 3, 2012 - Stop Oil in Hermosa Beach gets organized to fight!

April 4, 2012 - Rescheduled Jury Trial Set To Begin (see article)

Please email us to add or change information.

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