No Oil Inc. has received a number of inquiries from Pacific Palisades residents who are concerned about cashing $10 to $20 checks that Occidental Petroleum Corp. is issuing to extend 20-year agreements leasing residents' oil rights to the company.
Occidental needs the oil rights to 75% of the properties in three Pacific Palisades oil districts so it can proceed with its controversial plan to drill for oil at the base of the Palisades bluffs on Pacific Coast Highway.
Robert H. Sulnick said No Oil is concerned that residents whose 20-year leases are expiring might cash the checks without noticing they are marked "for the 21st year" or "for the 22nd year." Sulnick said he is worried that cashing the checks might constitute a legal consent to renew the leases Occidental needs.
But Occidental attorney Ed Renwick said the leases will remain in effect regardless of whether the checks are cashed because of legal principles that continue the leases as long as Occidental keeps trying to obtain the necessary permits for the project. The company must continue issuing the payments in the meantime, he said.
Barbara Kohn, treasurer of No Oil, said many residents are turning their checks over to the group rather than signing them. No Oil is keeping them on file as an indicator of the numbers of residents who oppose Occidental's drilling plans, she said.
Although she does not have an exact count of the checks, she said she has "a whole stack" that have been sent to No Oil by residents who oppose the plan.
Occidental's drilling plans are on hold while the company appeals a 1985 Superior Court ruling that the environmental review for the project was inadequate.