A New Vision for a South LA Oil Drilling Site

A local land trust wants to transform the defunct drilling site with a park, community center, and housing.

2 minute read

December 12, 2023, 12:00 PM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Google street view of vacant fenced-in dirt lot in South Los Angeles with graffiti on wall in background.

The lot at West Jefferson Boulevard and Van Buren Place in South Los Angeles was an oil drilling site for over five decades. | Google Maps / West Jefferson Boulevard and Van Buren Place

The Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust plans to redevelop a 1.86-acre former oil drilling site in South Los Angeles into a complex with affordable housing, a community center, and a park. The nonprofit, which purchased the lot, is looking for funding to bring that vision to fruition, reports Dorany Pineda in the Los Angeles Times.

“The sale marks a new chapter in a persistent and community-led fight against the oil drilling site, which residents argued for years was noisy and spewed foul odors. It also comes at a time of growing concerns about the risks and inequities of urban drilling in neighborhoods,” Pineda writes.

California is littered with both active and defunct oil wells, many in residential neighborhoods, posing health risks to the surrounding communities. In December of 2022, Los Angeles announced it would phase out active drilling and ban new wells, setting the stage for a landscape dotted with non-operational former drilling sites. “Tori Kjer, executive director of the L.A. Neighborhood Land Trust, believes it is critical that these sites are transformed into uses that benefit communities historically affected by oil drilling.”

The project is a long way from reality, but the community has already successfully fought to shut down the drilling site—“situated closer to homes than any other city drilling facility”—and to have the wells capped and equipment removed. Now, a $10 million state grant is helping fund the creation of a vision for the future of the site.

Monday, December 11, 2023 in Los Angeles Times

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