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Reports 'Lovely Old Lady' Enjoys Lights : Offshore Oil Derricks Not Eyesores, President Says

February 18, 1985|GEORGE SKELTON | Times Staff Writer

SANTA BARBARA — People who do not mind seeing piers or ships in the ocean should not complain about offshore oil rigs marring the scenery, President Reagan said in an interview published Sunday.

One "lovely old lady" he knows who initially objected to an offshore platform, Reagan said, even wound up enjoying the nightly lights of the oil derrick.

Reagan, interviewed by the Santa Barbara News-Press, also made it clear that he and his wife will not retire at their mountaintop ranch near here after he leaves the Oval Office.

"That would be too secluded," he said. "No, we've always loved living in Los Angeles and we just assume that we'll find ourselves a home in Los Angeles." They will visit the ranch frequently, he said.

Reagan said he never considered retiring in Palm Springs, where he spends each New Year's holiday and where several of his friends live. "That's nice to go to at certain times, but I've never been a great aficionado of the desert," he conceded.

While he remains as President he will fly to his ranch as often as possible, Reagan indicated. So far, he has spent roughly 12% of his days as President there.

Loves to Get Away

"I find, and I guess every President before me has found . . . there's something that you need," Reagan said in explaining why he loves to get away from Washington.

"And I look at it in another way: At my age, how many more years do I have to go to the ranch and enjoy the ranch? You give up an awful lot in privacy and so forth in these positions, and I think you're entitled. . . . "

The 74-year-old President said that from his 2,400-foot-high ranch he can see the Santa Barbara Channel Islands and also the many offshore oil platforms, which have been highly controversial here since a devastating oil spill in 1969.

Reagan recalled that when he was California's governor he appointed a scientific task force to study the potential of a earthquake-caused oil disaster in the badly fractured Santa Barbara Channel. Their "unanimous recommendation," he said, was to "drill--get the oil out . . . and remove that permanent threat that lies off the coast."

"You know, I think this is really reaching to say that some structure out there, that far out in the ocean, when you've got that whole expanse of ocean . . . " Reagan said, without completing the sentence. "It isn't as if you were looking at the ocean through a little frame and now somebody put something in the way."

Alludes to Mothballed Ships

Referring to World War II Liberty ships mothballed in the San Francisco Bay Area, the President said facetiously: "Why don't we bring down some and anchor them between the shore and the oil derrick? And then the people would see a ship and they wouldn't find anything wrong with that at all."

Reagan added: "They don't mind seeing piers that go out a half or a quarter mile into the ocean!"

The President also said that people who oppose offshore oil drilling "can't scream about the trade deficit--the imbalance of trade--when 50% of that is the oil we have to import. . . . It would make much more sense for us to be producing oil ourselves."

But Reagan acknowledged that during the present worldwide oil glut the federal government has offered offshore oil tracts for lease and "there have been no takers."

Reagan left his ranch Sunday and returned to Washington.

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