much rejoicing

Well it’s been a grateful week in Carpinteria, my small home town on the California coast.

My last post was on Tuesday, June 8, election day here in California. Posted as I sat waiting for the first returns, as I recall. And if you’ve been following this blog at all, you know that I was adamantly opposed to a certain Measure J. By this, an oil company from Denver tried to bypass the City government and get the voters to permit expanded oil exploration here. I mean right here, within the city limits, near my home and close to hundreds of other homes as well.

The centerpiece of the company’s plan – known as the Paredon Project – was to be a massive drilling rig, 140 to 175 feet tall. It would be on our ocean bluffs, adjacent to a residential tract, the bluffs nature preserve, and the seal rookery. We’re talking about a federally protected wildlife sanctuary, folks.

the drill rig

Happily, Measure J went down in a thunderous landslide of Oh Hell No. 70% of the voters didn’t fall for it at all. 

Election Blowout 4

And there was much rejoicing. There was a very large exhale of relief.

It’s a long and tawdry story, most of which I would rather see you spared. Suffice to say the magnificent defeat of Measure J comes not just as a welcome result, but a rightful vindication. The vast majority of us stuck together. We remembered the natural beauty that makes Carpinteria the place where we want to live in the first place. Our little town is not for sale.

We still have a stable local government. No shots were fired. Democracy abides.

As for the folks who voted the other way … well, we still love you. Take a walk on the bluffs sometime. Remember that all who wander are not lost, and all that glitters is not gold.


This great rally throughout downtown Carpinteria last Friday…

was covered on and in the Santa Barbara Independent.

I’ll be downtown with my sign this afternoon, and if you’re local I hope to see you.

Since the election is tomorrow, there won’t be many more posts on this topic. I hope. I may take some photos today and post them, but I don’t have much more to say. Except Vote No on Measure J.

Don’t just agree No on Measure J, and forget to vote.

Don’t let complacency creep in, because it’s not over ’til it’s over. And as obvious as it may seem that we shouldn’t vote our own City government out of power – and hand the whole process over to an oil company – if we won’t beat this power grab – we could have a mess to clean up.

Yep, that was a seagull.

did you say wheat?

I was vacuuming the living room today and thinking about oil. We all need oil. We also need bread.

Sure, but that doesn’t mean that one should turn his front yard into a wheat field. The neighbors might object. And the wheat in a guy’s front yard does nothing to satisfy the national hunger, just his own.

There is a place for growing wheat, called a wheat field. And there’s a place for pumping oil, called an oil field. And neither one belongs in a residential area. Which is what Venoco is trying to do in Carpinteria: expand oil operations in an area surrounded by homes and fragile ecosystems.

If someone tries to do something really ugly or destructive, a threat to quiet enjoyment, health and safety, there are government authorities to whom we can complain. Unless of course, the wheat farmer pulls off a power grab and tricks the people into voting said authorities into oblivion.  

I wonder if anyone has ever done that, planted wheat on their yard, in a suburban neighborhood. Well, of course. 

And if it is against the law, there’s always a way around that. Right? You just feed some of your neighbors a cock and bull story about the vast royalties they’ll get from your harvest. Tell them America needs wheat so we’re not dependent on foreign imports. Imply that your little front yard crop is actually relevant to that independence. Then they’ll vote to let you grow it to your heart’s content. Even if their own homes and lives are affected in the process.

Now you’re in the ranching business too.

“Wheat. I’m dead, they’re talkin’ about wheat. The question is, have I learned anything about life?”
Woody Allen, Love and Death … great ending scene … watch it here.

That’s funny stuff, right there. But I digress. The problem here in Carpinteria is that part of the flock have bought the premise that since we need oil, America needs the tiny puddle under our town. That’s wrong. America has vast tracts of oil that aren’t even being pumped, and that’s Big Oil’s decision. 

You see, America has very little oil. Our vast tracts can never meet our needs. Most of the world’s oil is in the middle east, especially Iraq. Plus a lot is in Russia and Canada. But Iraq is #1, which is why we went to war there. But that’s another blog post. Actually, I’ve been posting against the war since February 2003, just not on Metaphor. 

Here’s some info on oil reserves, from Wikipedia:

The foreign oil is easier to get at, and there’s a whole lot more of it overseas. Better profits yonder, is my point. But the little puddle under Carpinteria has nothing to do with all that.

The oil under our town can’t possibly make a difference to America. If they pumped it all out and turned it into gasoline, the US would burn through it before breakfast. Which doesn’t mean Venoco can’t sell it. They can try to get it, and if they succeed, they’ll make a profit, if they can get it out cheaply. Hence the big oil rig. 

And Venoco doesn’t care about the effects on the neighborhood. They don’t care what assaults our eyes, ears or noses. They won’t give it a thought if our town becomes less enjoyable, desirable or safe. 

Venoco Well Blowout, Orland CA. 4/23/2010

But Measure J isn’t about wheat and it’s not really about oil. Not on Tuesday, anyway. It’s about power. Whether the people have it, or give it to the oil company. That’s a trick, if you can get people to do it, against their own interests. It’s called a power grab.

This story is about one town, one oil company. People have made themselves a home here. It’s nice, and they have the right to keep it that way. … The rest of the story is all just natural gas. 

our town

The following letter was printed in yesterday’s Coastal View News, here in Carpinteria. Actually, 2 words were excised by the editor, which I have emphasized below.

The future of beautiful Carpinteria should be up to us, the citizens of Carpinteria, not Venoco. A vote for Venoco’s Measure J means giving the oil company too much control of our future. We should not vote away our rights for local government and environmental protection.

Venoco’s claim that onshore drilling is better than offshore is a clever deception. Venoco already operates offshore oil rigs off Carpinteria. Their plan is to drill onshore also, not instead.

It is not true that the Paredon project would impact only the Concha Loma area. It would affect our entire community. Besides, is there any number of homes and families that we are willing to turn our backs on? No, in Carpinteria we are all neighbors and we care about each other.

I am voting NO on Measure J, and I hope that you will join me.

Kyle Kimberlin

writing letters

So I was thinking about the impending ungodly abomination that Venoco Oil proposes to visit upon my little town, and it occurred to me that I might decide to write a letter to the editor of our local paper about it. Then I remembered Richard Ford's advice to writers. He said, in part:

6. Don't drink and write at the same time.
7. Don't write letters to the editor. (No one cares.)
8. Don't wish ill on your colleagues.
9. Try to think of others' good luck as encouragement to yourself.
10. Don't take any shit if you can possibly help it.

Now I'm not saying you shouldn't write letters to the editor, or drink, or take shit for that matter. I'm sure some of you do those things and are abundantly good at it. But for me, just now, I think it's good advice. Notwithstanding I think he's right that no one cares, my powers of rational rhetoric are not at their peak lately. Maybe I'm a little too pissed off about just how stupid and destructive is the idea of a giant oil derrick on our beautiful coast. And about that whole endemic indifference thing.

Besides, I know from copious experience that if I fiddle around with #7, #10 will become a challenge very soon. I also know a picture's worth a thousand words.

Citizens Against Paredon