On January 16, the Long Beach City Council approved the Los Cerritos Wetlands Oil Consolidation & Restoration Project, which concerns relocating oil operations on land near 2nd Street and Pacific Coast Highway to reestablish wetlands native to the area.


The project calls for the removal of oil production from 187 acres of land owned by the city and Synergy Oil & Gas. It proposes consolidating the oil operations onto a total of 10 acres split between two properties, a parcel owned by the Los Cerritos Wetlands Authority (LCWA) and a site across the street currently used as a pumpkin patch.


Synergy Oil & Gas CEO John McKeown said he was “very happy” with the vote. “I think this is a great start to get one of the largest parts of the wetlands in the public’s hands,” he said. McKeown is also the founder of Beach Oil Mineral Partners (BOMP), a group of private investors funding the project.


Council amendments to the proposal included changes to landscaping and improvements to a median on Studebaker Road, according to McKeown.


Third District Councilmember Suzie Price proposed the addition of a decorative screen around the Synergy property. Her amendment was approved.


McKeown said that he collaborated with groups such as the El Dorado Audubon Society and incorporated their feedback. Some of their suggestions included installing bird-safe glass on an office building proposed for the pumpkin patch site and special lighting on the properties to mitigate any impact on the birds.


LCWA, a government organization created in 2006 to maintain and protect the wetlands, plans to oversee the restoration process. “In the end, we support this project because it includes comprehensive wetlands and habitat restoration, provides unique public access opportunities, consolidates oil operations offsite, and will transfer ownership of a substantial portion of Los Cerritos Wetlands into the public domain,” the organization stated.


The former oil production site is slated to reopen as a nature center complete with bike lanes and a hiking trail. The proposal now goes to the California Coastal Commission for a final vote in the spring.