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Oil company considers building affordable housing on LA drilling site

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Neighborhood activists are unimpressed

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An oil drilling site near Arlington Avenue and Washington Boulevard in Arlington Heights could be transformed into affordable housing, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson told the Times that the site’s new operator, Sentinel Peak Resources, has been speaking with his office about the prospect of developing the site. Though plans haven’t been filed, and there aren’t even tentative dates for when the site might close, Wesson did say he was “unbelievably excited” about the idea.

A rep for Sentinel told the Times that the company believes housing, not oil, is the “best beneficial use” for the land.

The site holds over a dozen idle wells that would need to be plugged at a cost of $100,000 to $150,000 each. Soil on the 1.1-acre would also need to be remediated, a process that can cost $10 to $20 per cubic foot. Wesson has said that Sentinel would foot the bill for the site cleanup.

State regulators don’t exactly encourage building on top of plugged wells, saying that even properly plugged wells can leak.

Neighborhood activists have asked the city to look into what they say were violations of the site’s previous operators, Freeport-McMoRan Oil and Gas, and they stress that regardless of what becomes of the site, they are focused on getting those claims investigated.

The planning department has asked Sentinel “to submit paperwork that would start the process of reviewing whether the 4th Avenue site is in compliance with city requirements,” says the Times, but so far Sentinel has refused to do so. The city has said it’s going to start its review anyway.