History of the Oil Project

 

INTRODUCTION

The County Cross-Complainants seek by this action to require CrosDefendants/Respondents the City of Whittier and the Whittier City Council (collectively"Whittier") to comply with the requirements of Los Angeles County Proposition A, Safe Neighborhood Parks, Gang Prevention, Tree-Planting, Senior and Youth Recreation, Beaches and Wildlife Protection( "Proposition A") enacted by County voters in 1992, and to comply with the terms of a Project Agreement between the District and Whittier( "Project Agreement"), pursuant to which Whittier received Proposition ~ funds to acquire and to preserve natural lands and open space in the Whittier Hills. 
Whittier used Proposition A taxpayer-funded bonds and assessments,including Proposition A funds allocated to the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, to acquire approximately 1,280 acres of open space in the Whittier Hills (the "Whittier Hills Property").  Without the District's prior approval, Whittier has taken a series of actions in violation of Proposition A and the Project Agreement in furtherance of a private oil and gas exploration,drilling, and production project (the "Oil Drilling Project") on the Whittier Hills Property.
The Oil Drilling Project is fundamentally inconsistent with, and in violation of, Proposition A. Whittier's approvals of the Oil Drilling Project should be voided. Alternatively, Whittier should be ordered to comply with Proposition A and the Project Agreement before taking any further action on the Oil Drilling Project. Whittier has also violated the California Environmental Quality Act(~, "CEQA") by amending the Lease for the Oil Drilling Project and seeking to eliminate the'requirement that Whittier obtain the District's prior consent as required by Proposition A and the Project Agreement. Actions taken by Whittier demonstrate that it is seeking to gain a disproportionate financial windfall from the Oil Drilling Project in violation of Proposition A, the Project Agreement, and the Public Trust Doctrine to the detriment of all County taxpayers who are paying the assessment that enabled Whittier to acquire the Whittier Hills Property.
PARTIES
Cross-Complainant/Petitioner County is and was at all times herein mentioned a political subdivision of the State of California and a charter county organized and existing under the constitution and laws of the State of California.
Cross-Complainant/Petitioner District was created as a result of County voters passing Proposition~A, with a 64%yes vote, in 1992. Proposition A puts the District in charge of administering Proposition A and the funds generated and distributed pursuant to it.
Cross-Complainant/Petitioner Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors( "Board of Supervisors") is, and at all relevant times herein was, the legislative body charged with the formation of the District pursuant to Proposition A. Proposition A vests all powers and authority of the District in the Board of Supervisors in its capacity as the governing body of the District.
Cross-Defendant/Respondent City of Whittier is, and at all relevant times hereinwas, a California Charter City located in the County of Los Angeles.
Cross-DefendantlRespondent City Council of Whittier is, and at all relevant timesherein was, the legislative body, the governing board, and the highest administrative body of theCity of Whittier. The City of Whittier and the City Council of Whittier shall collectively be referred to herein as "Whittier."
Real Party in Interest Matrix Oil Corporation( "Matrix") is, and at all relevant times herein was, a private, for profit, oil and natural gas production California corporation doing business in the State of California, County of Los Angeles.
Real Party in Interest Clayton Williams Energy, Inc.( °CWEI")i s, and at all relevant times herein was, a Delaware Corporation doing business in the State of California,County of Los Angeles.
Real Party in Interest Puente Hills Habitat Preservation Authority( "HabitatAuthority") is, and at all relevant times herein was, a public agency j oint powers authority with a membership consisting of the City of Whittier, the County of Los Angeles, and the Los Angeles County Sanitation District No. 2, and participation by a representative of the Hacienda Heights Improvement Association. The Habitat Authority manages wilderness land in the hills for the City Real Party in Interest the Santa. Monica Mountains Conservancy (the "Conservancy") is a political subdivision of the State of California that supports the acquisition and preservation of public open space and the protection of natural resources. The Conservancy is one oft he members of the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority( "MRCA"), a joint powers authority of the State of California.
Real Party in Interest Chevron U.S.A. INC.( "Chevron")i s, and at all relevant times Iherein was, a Pennsylvania corporation doing business in the State of California, County of Los Angeles.
The true names and capacities of Cross-Respondents/Defendants DOES 1 through 25, inclusive, are presently unknown to Cross-Complainants, and are therefore sued under such fictitious names. County Cross-.Complainants are informed and believe, and based thereon allege that Cross-Respo_ndents/Defendants DOES 1 through 25 participated in the acts and. conduct which are the subject of this petition and complaint. County Cross-Complainants will amend this Cross-Complaint to show the true names and capacities of such fictitious Cross-Respondents/Defendants DOES when the same have been ascertained.
The-true names and capacities of Cross-Real Parties in Interest ROES 1 through 25,inclusive, are presently unknown to County Cross-Complainants and therefore are sued herein under such fictitious names. County Cross-Complainants will amend this Cross-Complaint to show the true names and capacities of such fictitious ROES when the same have been ascertained.
GENERAL ALLEGATIONS
On November 3, 1992, Los Angeles County voters approved Proposition A whichauthorized an annual assessment on nearly all of the 2.25 million parcels of real property in theCounty. Pursuant to Proposition A, the County also issued bonds, to be repaid by taxpayers,enabling Proposition A to provide over $500 million for the acquisition, restoration, or rehabilitation of real property for parks and park safety, senior recreation facilities, gang prevention, beaches, recreation, community or cultural facilities, trails, wildlife habitats, or natural lands, and maintenance and servicing of those projects.
Proposition A created the District to administer Proposition A and its funding and provides that the Board of Supervisors shall act as the governing body of the District. Proposition A further provides that the District sha11 take all actions necessary and desirable to carry out the purposes of Proposition A.
Proposition A, section 8(b)(2) provides $204,850,000 in funding to the District forgrants to public agencies for the acquisition, development, improvement, rehabilitation, or restoration of real property for parks and park safety, senior recreation facilities, beaches,recreation, wildlife habitat or natural lands in accordance with a list of projects that includes subsection QQ allocating $9,300,000 to the City of Whittier for the acquisition of natural lands and development of related facilities in the Whittier Hills.
Proposition A requires a recipient of Proposition A section 8(b)(2) funds to maintain-and operate in perpetuity the property acquired, developed, improved, rehabilitated, or restored with the funds.
Proposition A section 16 provides:
(a) No funds authorized under Section 8 may be disbursed to any recipientunless the recipient agrees:
(1) To maintain and operate in perpetuity the property acquired,developed, improved, rehabilitated or restored with the funds. With the approval of the granting agency, the recipient or its successors in interest in the property may transfer the responsibility to maintain and operate the property in accordance with this Section.
(2) To use the property only for the purposes of this order and to make no other use, sale, or disposition of the property, except as provided in subdivision (b) of this Section 16.
(3) Any beach, park or other public facility acquired, developed,rehabilitated or restored with funds from this act shall be open and accessible to the public without discrimination as to race, color, sex,sexual orientation, age, religions belief, national origin, marital status, physical or medical handicap, medical condition or place of residence, to the extent consistent with the provisions of subdivision
(a) of Section 18.
(4) In order to maintain the exclusion from gross income for federal income tax purposes of the interest on any bonds, notes or other evidences of indebtedness issued for purposes of this order,each recipient of funds pursuant to this order covenants to comply with each applicable requirement of Section 103 and Sections 141 through 15D of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended.
  Each recipient of funds disbursed pursuant to Section 8 shall agree in writing to the conditions specified paragraphs (1), (2), (3) and (4) of this Section 16 (a).
The conditions specified in paragraphs (1), (2), (3) and (4) of this section shall not prevent the transfer of property acquired, developed, improved, rehabilitated or restored with funds authorized pursuant to Section 8 of this order from the recipient to another Public Agency, to a Nonprofit Organization authorized to acquire, develop, improve or restore real property for park, wildlife, recreation, open space or gang prevention and intervention purposes, or to the National Park Service,provided that any such successor to-the recipient assumes the_obligations imposed by such conditions.
(b) If the use of the property acquired through grants pursuant to this order ischanged to one other than a use permitted under the category from which the fundswere provided, or the property is sold or otherwise disposed of, an amount equal tothe (1) amount of the grant, (2) the fair market value of the real property, or (3) theproceeds from the portion of such property acquired, developed, improved,rehabilitated or restored with the grant, whichever is greater, shall be used by the recipient, subject to subdivision a of this Section, for a purpose authorized in that category or shall be reimbursed to the Parks Fund and be available for appropriation only for a use authorized in that category. If the property sold or otherwise disposed of is less than the entire interest in theproperty originally acquired, developed, improved, rehabilitated or restored withthe grant, an amount equal to the proceeds or the fair market value of the propertyinterest sold or otherwise disposed of, whichever is greater, shall be used by thegrantee, subject to subdivision (a) of this Section, for a purpose authorized in thatcategory or sha11 be reimbursed to the Parks Fund and be available for appropriation only for a use authorized in,that category. Nothing in this Section 16 shall limit a Public Agency from transferring property acquired pursuant to this order to the National Park Service or the State Park System, with or without consideration.
Proposition A requires applicants for all projects listed in section 8(b)(2) to submit an application to the District for prior approval in order to receive funding for their project.
On-July 6, 1993, Whittier adopted Resolution No. 6416 approving the filing of an application with the District for funds under section 8(b)(2) QQ of Proposition A, which stated that Whittier certifies that it "understands the assurances and certifications in the application form[.]" The assurances in the Proposition A application state that an applicant will "use the property only for the purposes of the Proposition and will make no other use, sale, or other disposition of the property except as authorized by specific act of the Board of Supervisors as the governing body of the District."
Whittier's Proposition A funding application described the project to be funded as the acquisition of land that includes acreage designated Significant Ecological Areas by the (County and the preservation of portions of the last remaining chaparral, native. oak woodlands and coastal scrub ecosystem within eastern Los Angeles County that includes numerous native plant and animal life.
Whittier and the District entered into a Project Agreement for Grant No. 58L1-94-10034 governing the award of Proposition A grant funds to Whittier pursuant to section 8(b)(2) QQ of Proposition A that was signed by the mayor of Whittier in November 1994.
The Project Agreement contained the following terms and requirements agreed to in writing by Whittier•:
a. Whittier agrees to perform all aspects of the Project in accordance with the terms of this Agreement (Special Provisions, B);
b. Any modification or alteration in the Project, as set forth in the Application on file with the District, must be submitted in writing to the District for prior approval. No modification shall be effective until and unless the modification is executed by both Applicant and'I District. (Project Execution, B.10);
c. Whittier agrees that any gross income from non-recreational uses of aProject shall be used for recreational development, additional acquisition, operation, ormaintenance at the Project site, unless the District approves otherwise in writing. (Project Administration, D.4);
d. Whittier. agrees to submit for prior District review and approval any and all existing or proposed operating agreements, leases, concession agreements, management contracts, or similar arrangements with non-governmental entities, and any existing or proposed amendments or modifications thereto, as they relate to the Project or the Project site. (Project Administration, D.5);
e. In order to maintain the exclusion from gross income for federal income tax purposes of the interest on the taxpayer-funded bonds issued to raise the funds for Proposition A,Whittier covenants to comply with each applicable requirement of the Internal Revenue Code and agrees that it will not, without the prior written consent of the District, permit the use of any portion of the Project by any private person or entity, other than on such terms as may apply to the public generally or enter into any contract with a private entity for the management or operation of the Project or any portion thereof. (Project Administration, D.9);
f. Whittier agrees to use the property acquired or developed with grant monies under this Agreement only. for the purpose for which it requested District grant monies and will not permit any other use of the area, except as allowed by specific act of the Board of Supervisors as the governing body of the District. (Uses of Facilities, J.1);
g. Whittier agrees to maintain and operate in perpetuity the property acquired,developed, rehabilitated or restored with grant monies, subject to the provisions of the Proposition.(Uses of Facilities, J.)If Whittier sells or otherwise disposes of property acquired or developed with grant monies provided under this Agreement, Whittier shall reimburse the District in an amount equal to the greater of (1) amount of the grant monies provided under this Agreement,
(2) the fair~market value of the real property, or (3) the proceeds from the portion of the property acquired, developed, improved, rehabilitated or restored with grant monies;
i. If the property sold or otherwise disposed of is less than the entire interest in the property originally acquired, developed, improved, rehabilitated or restored with the grant 17 monies, then Whittier shall reimburse the District an amount equal to the greater of: 1) an amount equal to the proceeds, or 2) the fair market value. (Project Administration, D.10);
j. Whittier agrees to maintain satisfactory financial accounts, documents and 20 records for the Project and to make them available to the District for auditing at reasonable times.(Financial Records; I.l.);
k. Whittier's full compliance with the terms of the Agreement will have 23 significant benefits to the District and to the property and quality of life of those living in the County and said benefits exceed, to an immeasurable and un-ascertainable extent, the amount of grant monies that the District furnishes under this Agreement. Whittier agrees that payment to the District of an amount equal to the amount of grant monies disbursed under this Agreement would be inadequate compensation to the District for any breach by Whittier of this Agreement. Whittier further agrees that the appropriate remedy in the event Whittier breaches this Agreement shall be specific performance unless otherwise agreed to by the District. (Project Termination, E, 4.);
1. Whittier's application is incorporated into the Agreement; and No provision of this Agreement, or the application thereof, is waived by the failure of the District to enforce said provisions or application thereof. (Severability, M). The District, through its governing body the Board of Supervisors, has adopted a Procedural Guide for the Specified Project, the Per Parcel Discretionary, and the Excess Funds Grant Programs established by Proposition A (hereinafter the "Procedural Guide"). The Project Agreement signed by Whittier specifically incorporates the requirements of the Procedural Guide,including subsequent changes or additions thereto, into the Project Agreement. Whittier is legally obligated to comply with the requirements of the Procedural Guide.
The Procedural Guide provides that Whittier must maintain and operate the Proposition A-funded property in perpetuity and cannot change its use or ownership without the prior written consent of the District. The Procedural Guide further requires the District's prior approval for any proposed operating agreement, lease, or similar arrangement with a non-governmental entity that relates to the project or project site. The Procedural Guide requires prior District approval of all non-governmental use, operations, management, or other activity on the site.
Proposition A, section 8(c)(6) allocated $40,000,000 to the Conservancy for the acquisition of park and open space land, development of related recreational facilities, including recreational facilities for senior citizens, including not less than $7,000,000 to be expended in the Whittier Hills. In 1994, the Conservancy applied to the District to obtain Proposition A funds pursuant to Section 8(c)(6) and entered into a project agreement with the District (the"District/Conservancy Project Agreement"). The District/Conservancy Project Agreement contains terms essentially identical to those in the Project Agreement.
The Conservancy granted its $7,000,000 Proposition A allocation in Section 8(c)(6)to the MRCA, in a transaction that would allow Whittier to purchase approximately 960 acres in the Whittier Hills from the Trust for Public Lands ("TPL"), which had previously been acquired by TPL from Chevron, to be preserved and held as open space for habitat conservation and recreation (hereinafter the "960 Acres of Open Space"). A Declaration and Easement of
Restricted Use was recorded upon the 960 Acres of Open Space by TPL and Chevron on December 26, 1995 in the Recorder's Office, Los Angeles County, document number 95 2043168(the "TPL Declaration/Easement"). The TPL Declaration/Easement was intended to "preserve,enhance, and protect in perpetuity the conservation values of the 960 Acres of Open Space "for the benefit of this generation and the generations to come."
The 960 Acres of Open Space was acquired by Whittier through a series of transactions and agreements between Chevron, TPL, MRCA, and Whittier and was specifically intended to be preserved in perpetuity in a natural, undeveloped open space condition as reflected in TPL Declaration/Easement, an agreement between MRCA and Whittier, the District/Conservancy Project Agreement, and the requirements of Proposition A.
Other portions of the Whittier Hills Property were acquired by Whittier from TPL that had previously been owned by Union Oil Company of California, doing business as Unocal("Unocal"). On June 10, 1996, Unocal and Whittier recorded a Declaration of Restricted Use in the Los Angeles County Recorder's Office, document number 96 909633( "Unocal Declaration of Restricted Use"), which specifically states that Whittier "intends to restrict the use of-the property in perpetuity exclusively for public open space and recreational purposes so as to benefit this generation and future generations to come." The purpose of the Unocal Declaration of Restricted Use is to "restrict use" of the property "in perpetuity exclusively for public open space and recreational purposes" and to limit use of the property to activities consistent with public open space and recreational purposes and "in accordance with the requirements and limitations set forth in County of Los Angeles Proposition A." The Unocal Declaration of Restricted Use provides a limited list of uses that does not include activities that are part of the Oil Drilling Project.
Proposition A, the TPL Declaration/Easement, and the Unocal Declaration of Restricted Use provide that the Whittier Hills Property is to be preserved in perpetuity by Whittier for the benefit of the public, thereby creating a public trust and making the entire Whittier Hills Property subject to the Public Trust Doctrine. A public trust is created when property is held by a public entity for the benefit of the general public.. The Whittier Hills Property was purchased by
Whittier using public funds,. subject to the TPL Declaration/Easement and the Unocal Declaration of Restricted Use, and is held by Whittier for the benefit of the public. As a result, the Whittier Hills Property is subject to the Public Trust Doctrine.
In April 1996, Whittier's City 1Vlanager wrote a letter to the District regarrding the Whittier Hills Property and stated that Whittier will use the property acquired with Proposition A . grant monies "only for the purpose for which the grant monies were requested from said District and Conservancy and will not permit any other use of the area, .except as allowed by specific act of the County Board of Supervisors as governing Board of the District[.]"Without the approval of the District, Whittier adopted a resolution of intent to lease the Whittier Hills Property for production of oil, gas and other hydrocarbons( "Resolution of Intent to Lease"). The Resolution of Intent to Lease specifically informed prospective bidders that the Whittier Hills Property was subject to Proposition A .and required a release of protected status from the District. Whittier's staff report describing the Resolution of Intent to Lease to Whittier's City Council states that Whittier's purchase of the land to be leased was funded by a grant of Proposition A funds and that the conditions of this funding prevent Whittier from using the land for anything other than open space. The staff report further stated that the proposed lease includes a provision that Whittier must obtain a release from protected status from the District for the Whittier Hills Property prior to the Oil Drilling Project moving forward.
Without the approval of the District, on October 28, 2008, Whittier entered into an oil, gas and mineral lease with Matrix and CWEI (the "Lease") to allow oil and gas: exploring, drilling, recovery, processing, and related activities on the Whittier Hills Property. The terms of the Lease specifically include the entire 1,280 acres that make up the Whittier Hills Property.
Without the approval of the District, Whittier has twice amended the Lease. The Lease allows the drilling and operation of.up to 60 wells, construction and operations of oil and gas processing facilities, associated pipelines, new and relocated roads, grading, destruction of a portion of the coastal sage scrub ecosystem on the Whittier Hills Property, and the permanent and temporary loss of the property acquired with Proposition A funds.
Whittier's consultant and lobbyist Esther Feldman prepared a report for Whittier in July ZO11 on the Oil Drilling Project in which she wrote that the Lease can only become operative if the District approves the Lease and releases the.land acquired with Proposition A funds from protected status.
Whittier prepared an environmental impact report( "EIR")f or the Oil Drilling Project pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act( "CEQA") and circulated the EIR for review and public comment. The EIR states in several sections that the conditions of Proposition A funding requires Whittier "to obtain the consent of the [District] for certain proposed uses or development of the land for anything other than open space and recreational use."
In response to a comment letter on the EIR from the District, Whittier stated in the EIR that it "will not issue a conditional use permit until a release from protected area status is obtained from the [District]."
In November 2011, the City certified the EIR and approved a conditional use permit for the Oil Drilling Project. The conditional use permit requires compliance with the requirements of all Federal, State, County and local agencies as are applicable to the Oil Drilling Project." Proposition A is a County and local agency requirement that is applicable to the Oil Drilling Project.
After certifying the EIR, which stated that Whittier would not issue a conditional use permit to Matrix until a release from protected area status is obtained from the District, Whittier then amended the Lease in May 2012 to remove this requirement. Whittier did not obtain the consent of the District prior to amending the Lease to remove this requirement. Whittier did not conduct any analysis pursuant to CEQA of its discretionary action to amend the Lease to remove the requirement to obtain a release from protected area status from the District.
As recently as June 2012, Whittier entered into a contract with Esther Feldman Associates for consulting services "related to securing approvals needed from the County of Los Angeles related to the City's mineral extraction project in the Puente Hills."
On June 19, 2012, Whittier approved a document entitled "Amendment And PartialRelease Of Declaration And Easement Of Restricted Use" (the "Amendment to TPL Declaration/Easement") that allegedly released a portion of the 960 Acres of Open Space subject to the Lease from the covenants and restrictions set forth in the TPL Declaration/Easement. The Amendment to TPL Declaration/Easement was signed by Whittier and Chevron.
Whittier approved the Amendment to TPL Declaration/Easement without first Iconducting environmental review required by CEQA and without receiving the consent of the District or MRCA.
The Amendment to TPL Declaration/Easement would a11ow a change of use on the Whittier Hills Property. Pursuant to the Project Agreement, Whittier was required to submit the Amendment to TPL DeclarationlEasement to the District for prior review and approval before entering into it.
Matrix provided Whittier with a payment of $400,000 along with 'its bid application for the Lease. Pursuant to the Lease, Matrix has made additional rental and other payments to Whittier totaling several hundred thousand dollars. The District did not authorize these payments and these payments by Matrix to Whittier have not been spent by Whittier in strict compliance with Proposition A.
The County Cross-Complainants are informed and believe and on that basis allege that Whittier has deposited payments from Matrix pursuant to the Lease into Whittler's General Fund. The County Cross-Complainants are informed and believe and on that basis allege that Whittier has failed to ensure that proceeds it has received from Matrix pursuant to the Lease have been accounted for and spent in compliance with Proposition A and the Project Agreement.
Pursuant to the Lease, Matrix has made payments to the Habitat Authority. The District did not authorize these payments to the Habitat Authority and these payments have not been spent in strict compliance. with Proposition A. The County Cross-Complainants are. informed and believe and on that basis allege that Whittier and the Habitat Authority have failed to provide documentation to the District that payments to the Habitat Authority received from Matrix pursuant to the Lease have been accounted for and spent in compliance with Proposition A and the Project Agreement.
A socioeconomic analysis of the Oil Drilling Project prepared for Whittier estimates that oil royalties paid to Whittier pursuant to the Lease are estimated to average between $7.5 million and $115.4 million per year.
In August 2012, Whittier created a new subcommittee of its City Council called the "Mineral Extraction Financial Plan Subcommittee" charged with determining how payments from the Oil Drilling Project should be spent. The County Cross-Complainants are informed and believe and on that basis allege that Whittier officials have indicated an intention to use royalty proceeds for various purposes that would not be consistent with the requirements of Proposition A.
In August 2012, Whittier entered into an agreement with the Habitat Authority pursuant to which Whittier has committed to paying the Habitat Authority 4% (four percent) of the royalty proceeds received each year by Whittier from. the Oil Drilling Project, up to a maximum of two million dollars per year (hereinafter the "Royalty Agreement"). Whittier did not consult with the District before entering into the Royalty Agreement and the District has not consented to the Royalty Agreement. The terms of the Royalty Agreement allow the Habitat Authority to use the oil royalty proceeds from the Oil Drilling Project in violation of the requirements of Proposition A.
While Whittier seeks to gain a windfall of millions of dollars in annual royalty payments from the Oil Drilling Project, it appears to be Whittier's position that a one-time payment of $325,000 to the District is all that is required pursuant to Proposition A to allow the Oil Drilling Project to move forward. In fact, Whittier sent a check in the amount of $325,000 payable to the District that Whittier apparently asserts would satisfy all Proposition A requirements to _allow the Oil Drilling Project to move forward. The District rejects this position and has returned the check to Whittier.
In September 2012, Whittier filed a document in this case stating that it has no legal obligation to request or receive the District's consent for the Oil Drilling Project.
The County Cross-Complainants are informed and believe and on that basis allege that Matrix and Whittier continue to take additional actions in furtherance of the Oil Drilling Project. Matrix has submitted grading plans and other documents to Whittier in recent weeks and is preparing to commence work on the Oil Drilling Project on the Whittier Hills Property as early as November or December 2012. The first phase of the Oil Drilling Project involves grading and other physical changes to the Whittier Hills Property to accommodate the construction of test oil drilling wells.
Whittier has not received the consent of the District to allow such grading or any other activities in furtherance of the Oil Drilling Project on the Whittier Hills Property. Such grading and other activities in furtherance of the 0i1 Drilling Project are not uses allowed for by Proposition A, the Project Agreement, or the Unocal Declaration of Restricted Use. The District has not consented to any use of the Whittier Hills Property by Matrix for the Oil Drilling Project.
Whittier has engaged in, and continues to engage in, ongoing violations of Proposition A and the Project Agreement in relation to the Oil Drilling Project. Unless restrained by this Court, Whittier will continue ~o violate Proposition A and the Project Agreement.
The County Cross-Complainants have no adequate legal remedy in that damages, if awarded, will be inadequate to compensate for the detriment suffered by the County Cross-Complainants and the public if the Whittier Hills Property is used for the Oil Drilling Project in violation of Proposition A, the Project Agreement, and the Unocal Declaration of Restricted Use.
If the Oil Drilling Project is allowed to move forward, great and- irreparable injury will occur, including irreparable harm to the open space, habitat and recreational qualities of the Whittier Hills Property which Whittier acquired with Proposition A funds and entered into the Project Agreement to protect. There are several significant and. unavoidable environmental impacts that will be caused by the Oil Drilling Project including air quality impacts, dust impacts,greenhouse gas emissions, aesthetic impacts, hydrology and water quality impacts, land use and policy inconsistencies and incompatible land uses, and recreational impacts. The Whittier Hills Property is designated as "high sensitivity" open space by Whittier and serves as critical habitat for the federally threatened coastal California gnatcatcher and as habitat for numerous special status species. A study prepaxed by Matrix for the Oil Drilling Project indicates that drilling and operation of test wells could result in oil spills and such spills could substantially degrade groundwater, surface water, and the Whittier Hills Property. A large oil spill could spread contamination to residential communities and storm drain facilities.
Allowing Whittier to move forward with the Oil Drilling Project without obtaining the approval of the District will deny the public the advocacy of a public agency whose mission is to protect the open space, habitat and recreation uses of the Whittier Hills Property and other lands for the benefit of the public. Accordingly, the County Cross-Complainants lack an adequate remedy at law if Whittier is allowed to continue moving forward with the Oil Drilling Project.
The County Cross-Complainants have no plain; speedy, or adequate remedy at law to challenge the actions of Whittier other than the relief sought in this action.  The statutory authority authorizing the County to form the District is set forth in the Public Resources Code ("PRC");,including section 5506.9 which requires that all revenue generated by the District shall be allocated among all affected public agencies for the purpose of acquiring land for park, recreation, open space, and conservation purposes. PRC section 5539.9 provides that all proceeds of Proposition A shall be allocated in accordance with PRC section 5506.9(c)(5) and (8). PRC section 5539.9(h) requires that the Proposition A assessment be apportioned by a method that fairly distributes the net amount among all assessable lots or parcels in proportion to the benefits to be received from the improvements. The ballot language and arguments in support of Proposition A informed voters that the real property assessment to be created would benefit all real property owners in the County of Los Angeles who pay the assessment. The Proposition A ballot language specifically stated that its purpose was to benefit properties throughout the District.
The repeated actions and statements of Whittier indicate a desire by Whittier to gain an unfair windfall from the Oil Drilling Project that could allow Whittier and property owners in the city to receive a greater benefit than other :County property owners subject to the Proposition A assessment. Unless prevented by orders of this Court, Whittier will continue to take additional actions to allow proceeds from the Oil Drilling Project to be spent in contravention of Proposition A and the Project Agreement. Unless stopped by orders of this Court, Whittier's actions will result in property owners in Whittier receiving disproportionately larger benefits than County property owners living in other cities and unincorporated areas within the County.
The County Cross-Complainants bring this action as a "private attorney general," pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure section 1021.5 because it will enforce important rights affecting the public interest, including, but not limited to, enforcement of Proposition A,fulfillment of the intent and will of the voters who approved Proposition A, the protection of the open space, habitat and recreation uses of the Whittier Hills Property for the public. The County Cross-Complainants' expenditure of costs to prosecute this proceeding will confer a significant benefit on the general public by protecting the environment, preserving open space, enforcing the requirements of Proposition A, ensuing that Whittier property owners do not receive a disproportionate benefit from Proposition A, and fulfilling the will of the voters who voted for Proposition A. As a consequence, the County Cross-Complainants are entitled to an award of their attorneys' fees and costs for undertaking this action.