A crucial Los Angeles city decision on oil drilling along the Pacific Palisades coast was delayed Thursday for up to 30 days.
The city’s Board of Referred Powers heard five hours of testimony then chose to wait rather than rule on an appeal filed by Occidental Petroleum Co., which has been denied a permit to sink oil wells below the bluffs that face Will Rogers state beach.
Occidental had appealed a city zoning administrator’s finding last December that the oil drilling would have a devastating effect on the beachfront environment. The company agreed to the delay Thursday.
The delay will allow more time for deliberations on the appeal, said City Councilman David Cunningham, chairman of the Board of Referred Powers. However, it was clear that a majority of the board members were leaning in favor of Occidental’s request to overturn the denial.
The board is composed of five council members, including four who have voted to support the Occidental plan in the council. The board was called on to hear the Occidental appeal after the city’s Board of Zoning Appeals was disqualified from the case in a rare procedural action.
Before the hearing Thursday, the drilling opponent group No Oil, Inc. held a City Hall news conference where actor James Garner and others attacked the council members for accepting campaign contributions from Occidental before sitting in judgment on the appeal.