Environment & Science

La Habra Heights oil battle heats up, with dispute over initiative summary

In La Habra Heights, a vote next March on whether to ban some types of oil production is already causing controversy, with a lawsuit over the ballot summary. (File photo: Oil rigs extract petroleum in the Los Angeles area community of Culver City, California.)
In La Habra Heights, a vote next March on whether to ban some types of oil production is already causing controversy, with a lawsuit over the ballot summary. (File photo: Oil rigs extract petroleum in the Los Angeles area community of Culver City, California.)
David McNew/Getty Images

Listen to story

00:54
Download this story 0MB

A vote next March on whether to ban certain types of oil production in the city of La Habra Heights is already causing controversy, as a lawsuit over election language comes to L.A. County Superior Court.

La Habra Heights Oil Watch worked sidewalks and shopping centers to bring Measure A to the March ballot, which takes aim at new wells and non-conventional oil extraction techniques, including fracking.

But another La Habra resident sued, saying the ballot language was misleading. After a hearing on December 1, the city changed the measure to reflect the concerns of resident Jim Pigott.

Now La Habra Heights Oil has sued to get the original language back. The group says the changes imply a ban an oil activity they never sought to stop.

Hollin Kretzmann, a Center for Biological Diversity lawyer representing the group, emphasizes that the ballot initiative as written doesn’t target existing oil rights. “The intent is to leave alone those operations currently happening in La Habra Heights,” he says. “The prohibition would only apply to new operations that begin after Measure A is passed.”

Legal wrangling over the measure is headed to LA Superior Court New Year’s Eve.