The ‘Urban Restoration’ project will add innovative landscaping improvements to the proposed CSD for Baldwin Hills oil drilling. The oil and gas mining operations in the area are the largest urban mining and production facilities of its type in the United States
Joined by representatives of the award-winning landscape architecture firm of Mia Lehrer & Associates and about 50 community residents, Supervisor Yvonne B. Burke recently announced plans for a comprehensive approach to improving the scenic appearance and environmental benefits for the community surrounding the Baldwin Hills oil fields.
Burke outlined the project’s habitat expansion and environmental benefits that have been included as a major element of the proposed Community Standards District (CSD) for Baldwin Hills’ oil drilling set for vote by the L.A. County Board of Supervisors at its October 21 meeting. The CSD is a set of regulations proposed to regulate future oil production activity at the Baldwin Hills oil fields.
Residents currently overlook the scarred landscape of oil derricks and industrial processing facilities from their homes, schools, parks and roadways. The proposed CSD landscape mitigation requirements call for the addition of landscaping around each new or deepened well. This would result in islands of patchy planting with no way to predict their locations.
“The proposed Landscape Improvements will provide a more predictable strategy to improve the appearance of the industrial fields from the surrounding neighborhoods,” Burke said. “The landscape improvements can be installed without sacrificing the productivity of the Fields.”
Mia Lehrer & Associates is a full service, international landscape architecture practice with a talented team of designers and technically skilled professionals on a wide variety of exciting projects ranging from inspirational gardens, to urban parks, to master plans for highly complex and controversial sites. “The firm is fully aware of the changing role of landscape in our contemporary urban environment,” Burke said. “As part of its Baldwin Hills Park Master Plan, the firm worked with Community Conservancy International and many community groups surrounding the 1,300-acre park to create a compelling vision to quadruple existing park area.”
The regulations in the proposed CSD are considered the most stringent in the state and provide innovative approaches to addressing potential oil field impacts. The development standards and restrictions were developed based on mitigation measures identified in the Environmental Impact Report (EIR), comments from public agencies, and input from Baldwin Hills’ residents.
Additional key features of the proposed CSD include the following:
• Fire protection audits.
• Health risk assessments.
• Air quality monitoring of drilling, re-drilling, and reworking operations.
• Emergency response plan and a community alert notification system.
• Monitoring of vapor release on existing oil tanks and abandoned wells.
• Use of state-of-the-art emission control devices on diesel engines used in the drilling and construction operations.
• A noise attenuation program.
• A limit on the number of new or re-drilled wells per year.
• Monitoring of geotechnical conditions with measures to avoid or address subsidence.
• A program to address spill containment and the monitoring of groundwater quality.
• The use of flaring to reduce vibration and mitigate air quality impacts.
• Requirements for the removal of unused equipment and a landscaping, re-vegetation and screening plan to beautify the site.
• Environmental compliance coordinators to work with Regional Planning in monitoring the operator’s compliance with technical provisions of the CSD.
• Ombudspersons to respond to and address complaints on a 24-hour/7 day per week basis.
• Environmental quality assurance program and a safety inspection, maintenance and quality assurance program.
• A citizen’s advisory panel to provide a mechanism for community oversight.
• A multiple agency coordination community comprised of responsible public agencies to monitor compliance.
• Financial mechanisms to ensure funding of monitoring, compliance and site remediation.