End Neighborhood Drilling
Three feet from bedroom windows
The Jefferson Drill Site is located just three feet away from the nearest home, with active oil wells operating as close as 60 feet away from residents’ bedroom windows. In 1964, Union Oil Company purchased eight residential parcels of land in the middle of an already developed neighborhood. They demolished the homes in 1964 to make way for a drill site housing 36 wells.
Neighbors often report smelling noxious fumes, disruptive and loud noises, and intense vibrations from the site's operations. The site also uses thousands of gallons of toxic, corrosive chemicals that are also carcinogenic and endocrine disrupting chemicals.
Exposure to chemicals used in oil drilling operations leave families susceptible to symptoms ranging from nausea, headaches, nosebleeds, asthma and other respiratory illness, and increased risk of damage to the reproductive system, cancer, and cardiovascular disease.
In 2014, Redeemer Community Partnership mobilized at City Hall to speak against the site's request to expand the site to have even more wells. After the strong outpouring of community opposition, the operators withdrew the application.
In the summer of 2016, RCP submitted a Nuisance Abatement Petition on the Jefferson Drill Site and mobilized nearly 100 residents to give hours of public testimony in January 2017. We called on the City to give the residents of South LA equal protections that had long been afforded to communities in wealthier, West LA.
In October 2017, the City strengthened the Jefferson Drill Site's conditional use permit, requiring the installation of a 45-ft perimeter wall, air and noise monitoring, state-of-the-art fire suppression system, and many other protections.
In January 2018, the oil company appealed the decision and lost. In April, the operators then sued the City to avoid compliance with the new protections. Working with a wonderful legal team from Earthjustice, Redeemer Community Partnership petitioned the court to join the lawsuit in July to better advocate for the community in the court’s determination. The judge postponed a decision for several months but informed the parties that he was favorably inclined to grant Redeemer’s request. In the intervening time, the oil operator asked to stay the case in exchange for filing a Plan Approval to close and clean-up the drill site!
Forcing the closure and clean-up of an active oil drilling site was unprecedented victory for the community. In November of 2018, we gathered at City Hall once more to advocate for a closure process that would protect the health and safety of adjacent neighbors.
In May 2019, the City's Zoning Administration issued a determination requiring the Jefferson Drill Site to close and cleanup within 36 months!
Jesus says, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matt. 17:20).
It is little wonder that an oil company named Sentinel Peak is moving out of our neighborhood.
Envisioning a New Future
We have begun envisioning workshops with the community to identify what would be the best-fit, beneficial land use to take the place of a toxic drill site. It is a 1.75 acre piece of land with a lot of potential. In our first workshop, community members showed strong consensus for creating park space, a community center, and affordable housing.