Several Hermosa Beach residents opposed to oil drilling have begun a drive to put an anti-drilling initiative on the ballot.
Santa Monica-based MacPherson Oil Co. holds a lease from the city to dig 30 wells at a slant under the city, in some cases reaching beneath Santa Monica Bay.
Three residents recently notified the city they plan to circulate a petition. Rosamond Fogg, a proponent of the petition, said the project would threaten Santa Monica Bay and the health and safety of residents and would precipitate a series of similar projects along the coast.
The residents must collect 1,454 signatures by May 25 to get the initiative on the November ballot, officials said.
Oil company engineers expect the wells to produce 27 million barrels of oil over the next 25 years, generating as much as $104 million for the city under the lease.
The project was endorsed by the State Lands Commission last month and requires the approval of the California Coastal Commission. Donald MacPherson Jr., president of the oil company, said he hopes the company can begin work on the project by summer.
Hermosa voters approved two pro-oil initiatives in 1984. Fogg said voters were swayed by a gasoline crisis at the time.
"Today oil prices are in the basement and the quality of the oil here is low," she said.