Suit Seeks to Prevent Oil Drilling

Times Staff Writer

A class-action suit seeking to block Occidental Petroleum Corp. from drilling for oil on the Pacific Palisades shoreline was filed Tuesday by two residents who say the company failed to obtain mineral rights from enough area homeowners.

Joseph L. Shalant and Frances T. Shalant, both attorneys, said in their Los Angeles Superior Court civil case that the mineral lease on their own property is invalid because it had been signed by only one of the previous co-owners. Other leases, they claim, also may be invalid.

City zoning laws require an oil company to obtain sign-ups or leases on underground mineral rights for at least 75% of the property in a given area in order to create an oil-drilling district.

Occidental said it has the necessary number of leases to the mineral rights. The Shalants claim, however, that some of the leases were arranged with prior owners and that the zoning laws require consent from current owners.

The City Council approved the controversial drilling project, which is expected to produce 60 million barrels of oil over 30 years, on a 10-4 vote last month. Mayor Tom Bradley, once opposed to the drilling, sanctioned it Jan. 12.

No Oil Inc., an organization of area residents that succeeded in thwarting Occidental's drilling plans a decade ago, intends to file a separate civil suit claiming that no adequate environmental impact report has been prepared. The Shalants filed their suit as a class action on behalf of all their neighbors.

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