SOUTH BAY : Foes of Oil Drilling Plan Win a Round in Court

Opponents of a plan to drill for oil in Hermosa Beach won a victory this week when a judge ruled the project violates city zoning codes and must be revised before plans go forward.

Macpherson Oil Co. of Santa Monica holds a lease to dig 30 wells on a 1.3-acre city yard. But Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Diane Wayne ruled Monday that the proposed site is too large, violating a city code that limits drilling projects to one acre.

The judge said she did not rule on a claim that the project violates environmental laws because the size already invalidates the plan.

Macpherson Oil Co. planned to drill for oil at a slant under the city to reach about 30 million barrels of oil, some of which is under Santa Monica Bay.

The project will be revised, but will go forward, said Scott Macpherson, the company's senior vice president.

To comply with the court ruling, the company will consider building a sound wall within a one-acre perimeter on the site, leaving the remaining land for the city, Macpherson said.

Limiting the size of the project would make for a tighter work space, but would not reduce the number of wells, he said.

The Hermosa Beach Stop Oil Coalition filed suit against the city and the oil company last year.

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