The Redondo Beach City Council took a preliminary first step toward exploring oil drilling within city limits to boost city revenues on Tuesday.
In a referral to staff, Councilman Steve Diels, who represents District No. 4 in North Redondo Beach, asked City Manager Bill Workman if city staff could examine whether Redondo Beach could tap into the "hundreds of millions of dollars" sitting beneath the city.
Additionally, Diels asked if city staff could look into the effects of possible oil drilling in Hermosa Beach on Redondo's reserves. Both cities sit on top of the Torrance Oil Field.
Hermosa Beach voters will decide whether to let E&B Natural Resources Management Corp drill within city limits as part of a settlement with Macpherson Oil Co. If voters allow oil drilling, the city will pay E&B $3.5 million; if voters decide to keep the ban on drilling in place, the city will owe $17.5 million.
"I know that we have a lot of questions and requests for certain kinds of capital projects around town," Diels said. "I think we have a potential funding source that would be irresponsible for us not to look into."
The councilman noted that money from potential projects could be used for various capital projects, and even implied that revenues from oil drilling could be used to pay for a park at the AES site on Harbor Drive.
Other councilmen agreed with Diels' request to put it as an item on a future council agenda.
"I agree 100 percent with that referral to staff," said Councilman Steve Aspel.
Even Councilman Bill Brand, a staunch opponent of plans to repower the AES Redondo Beach power plant, supported having city staff look into the issue.
"It'd be interesting to know what potential revenue could be there," said Brand, who represents District No. 2. "In general, though, I don't support that kind of industrial activity going on in our town."
If the city does eventually decide to allow oil drilling, it would not be the first time oil wells were dug in Redondo Beach. According to the Redondo Beach Historical Society, wells dotted the city during the 1920s.