Two Supervisors Propose Removing Public Right to Appeal

UPDATE: Mon, April 9: 10:30am - CFROG has been notified that the Board will vote in the morning to remove this item from the agenda - BUT if you are able to attend it is still important to ensure they remove it, AND that they see the public's interest in this issue. Keep submitting comments to: Re. Item #43

Breaking News: Two Ventura County supervisors propose prohibiting the public from filing appeals on "ministerial" zoning clearance projects - this can include more oil wells on old land use permits.

Zoning Clearances: 

  • have no public notice.
  • have no public hearing.
  • include no environmental or health impact review.
  • Ventura county views them all as ministerial, whether they are for a backyard gazebo or expanding an oil and gas field.

In many cases when appeals are filed, the problem is the way the project is analyzed and an appeal is the public's only remedy of holding local government accountable for protecting public health and the environment. 

For example: County planning is currently processing a zoning clearance application for 79 new wells on the Oxnard Plain taking farmland to make new drill pads for wells that will extract dirty tar sands using cyclic steam.

Help Us Fill the Room on Tuesday, 8:30-9:30am

RSVP to Tuesday's Hearing HERE. 

And tell the Supervisors to maintain the public's right to appeal.

If the county approves this zoning clearance on the Oxnard Plain should the public be able to file an appeal if the county failed to properly study potential impacts OR should the public be forced to rely on the 1955 approval with no environmental review, no cumulative impact study? 


Map: Shows the HBH Ranch Lease location where an operator has filed for a zoning clearance for 79 new tar sands, cyclic steam wells. HERE Is the zoning clearance application for this project. 

Here is the letter with the proposal signed by Supervisors Peter Foy and Kelly Long. 

Here is a link to the agenda for Tuesday. 

On Tuesday, April 10, the Ventura County Board of Supervisors will consider a proposal brought by  Supervisors' Peter Foy (Dist. 4) and Kelly Long (Dist. 3) asking the Board to approve their request to have county counsel draft a new ordinance that would prohibit the public from filing appeals on zoning clearances issued by the county. 

This action, if approved would fly in the face of the public's right to an administrative remedy should the county fail to properly process the zoning clearance. 

Public Right to Remedy: This proposal is a problem because it strikes at the heart of the public's right to an "administrative remedy." This proposal removes the ONLY opportunity for the public to participate in this process. 
Costs listed include ALL appeals, not just ministerial: The list of costs presented with the proposal letter has problems because it includes ALL appeals - including those of discretionary projects and creates a bit of a "red herring" when it comes to targeting appeals of zoning clearances. 
Reduce costs & avoid appeals by complying with the law: If the Supervisors want to reduce costs, and limit exposure to lawsuits they should direct staff to comply with the law (per the judges order) and conduct proper environmental and health impacts reviews. This would give notice to the applicant that this type of review will be involved, and it would provide assurance to the public that the county is working in the public interest. 
Appeals have been Upheld: Also the letter signed by Foy & Long is inaccurate in 
​stating no projects have been overturned. In fact​ a project approval has been overturned by the court, finding the county was "contravening" state law in approving the Agnew project. 
Current Zoning Clearance application / 79 New Wells: In addition, right now the county is processing a zoning clearance application for 79 new oil and gas wells on the Oxnard Plain that would use cyclic steam to remove tar sands, taking away farmland to create the new drill pads. In terms of oil and gas zoning clearances - many of the land use permits were granted decades ago, prior to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The public has a right not only to know about what impacts a zoning clearance approval may have on their neighborhood and health, but also a right to object to the approval of such a project. 
Hiding behind Ministerial Process: Ventura County incorrectly labels these oil and gas zoning clearances as ministerial. The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) defines ministerial projects as those requiring no "wisdom" or subjective thought about whether or not the project is appropriate. And CEQA says that some "presumed ministerial" projects, like building permits, CAN be discretionary when there are discretionary aspects of the project, and therefore be subject to environmental review under CEQA. By taking the position that all of these oil and gas zoning clearance are always ministerial the county is failing to comply with CEQA and is jeopardizing public health and the environment - contrary to the duty of local government. 


  • Write & Call Your Supervisors TODAY and tell them:

1. Do not approve the proposed change to rules about appealing zoning clearances and maintain the publics right to participate in the process with an administrative remedy. 

2. The public has a right to a remedy for all approvals of ministerial actions in order to hold the county accountable for doing a proper review. 

Send email to:

All supervisors will see your comment (if you sent directly to supervisors that is GREAT!)

3. FILL THE ROOM at the hearing on Tuesday. RSVP HERE. 


CFROG Photo: current HBH Ranch lease cyclic steam operation on Sturgis Road, county is processing application for 79 more cyclic steam wells to extract tar sands without any public health or environmental review. 


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