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City Council, Santa Monica, City Hall

Public Hearing March 18 For Santa Monica Pipeline Franchise Agreement

Posted Feb. 28, 2014, 9:21 am

Parimal M. Rohit / Staff Writer

A crude petroleum pipeline runs up and down Santa Monica near the City’s eastern edge. The future of that pipeline might be determined at the next council meeting, as the City’s elected panel approved as part of its consent calendar Tuesday the setting of a public hearing to gather public testimony of the crude petroleum pipeline passing through the public right of way in Santa Monica.

That public hearing is set for March 18 at 5:30 pm inside council chambers as part of the City Council’s next public meeting.

At that public hearing, the council will vote on a first reading of an ordinance “granting a franchise agreement to Crimson California Pipeline, L.P. to operate an existing crude petroleum pipeline that runs north to south beneath the City.”

“The franchise agreement would allow Crimson to continue to operate and maintain the pipeline for the purpose of transporting crude petroleum products,” City staff stated. “The proposed franchise agreement is for a 20-year term.”

If the council approves the ordinance, City Hall would receive franchise payments for allowing the existing pipeline to continue running through Santa Monica.

The steel pipeline is 10 inches in diameter and runs for 3.9 miles within Santa Monica along 26th Street from the northernmost city limits to Colorado Avenue. Once it reaches Colorado, the pipeline turns west until Cloverfield Boulevard. From there, the pipeline then heads south along Cloverfield until it reaches Ocean Park Boulevard. The pipeline heads west along Ocean Park for a few blocks to 23rd Street, where it turns south to Dewey Street before finally traveling east to Santa Monica’s southern most border.

In September 1989, City Hall granted Shell California Pipeline Co. a franchise “to operate, maintain, inspect, repair, remove, replace, and abandon a pipeline … in certain public streets of the City.”

City staff stated in its most recent report to council members the franchise granted to Shell California Pipeline Co. for 20 years.

The pipeline franchised to Shell within Santa Monica’s borders was sold to Crimson California Pipeline in 2005.

“Crimson is a common carrier and continues to operate and maintain the Pipeline … as the lawful successor to Shell although the franchise agreement expired on September 12, 2009,” City staff stated.

State law, City staff stated, significantly regulates common carrier petroleum pipelines.

“The proposed franchise would be for a 20-year term and set the rules under which Crimson would operate the pipeline,” City staff stated. “Ultimately, the City Council has the option to reject a pipeline franchise agreement with Crimson. However, should a franchise be rejected, Crimson, operating as a regulated common carrier pipeline utility, may have eminent domain and other rights under state law that may allow it to continue to operate the pipeline.”

As part of the council’s vote, a resolution was approved declaring the City’s intent to grant Crimson a franchise to operate the pipeline.

According to the resolution, the pipeline originates in Ventura County and travels southeast before terminating in Los Angeles County and distributes crude petroleum to refineries.

A copy of the franchise agreement was made available online with the public agenda for the council’s Feb. 25 meeting.

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