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City of Carson cites legal action against oil giant Tesoro

The complaint also states that Tesoro interfered with a business relationship of the city’s in its attempt to impose a restriction not supported under the agreement.

Compton Herald | Tesoro
Carson Mayor Albert Robles announces a lawsuit against Tesoro Corporation (in background), Nov. 2 , as a countering the oil giant’s lawsuit which cancelled a deal to bring a global name brand high-tech manufacturing company to the city causing the loss of 350 jobs for local residents, Photo courtesy City of Carson/Bob Riha Jr.

City of Carson says Tesoro reneged on deal to bring manufacturing project to Carson and loss of 350 jobs

CARSON – The City is taking legal action against local oil refinery Tesoro (now known as Andeavor) for business interference and breach of contract related to the oil giant’s protest and lawsuit over the siting of major high-tech manufacturing facility on a property located adjacent to the refinery.

The property, a 5.5-acre lot is currently owned by the Carson Successor Agency and was being considered as a potential business location by a high-tech manufacturer. The announcement was made by Carson Mayor Albert Robles, during a press conference at the former proposed site for the high-tech manufacturing facility that would have brought over 350 well-paying jobs for local residents.

“I find it completely hypocritical that a company that has profited and reaped the benefits of the production of gasoline, jet fuel, diesel fuel, petroleum coke, and fuel oil, while simultaneously spewing contaminated emissions into the air in Carson is now seeking to stop the city from bringing a clean high-tech manufacturing facility to a city and region that desperately needs good paying jobs for our residents,” said Robles. “I find Tesoro’s motivation to be very suspect given its capricious history with the city, and am particularly incensed that because of their baseless last-minute lawsuit the city and our residents lost 350 well-paying jobs. Shame on them!”

Robles was joined by members of the city council, Assistant City Atty. William Wynder and Carson community members in announcing the lawsuit. The cross complaint alleges that Tesoro has materially breached an existing easement agreement in its attempt to assert legal rights that are beyond the original agreement. Previously, the former refinery owner, BP West Coast Products LLC and the Carson Redevelopment Agency had entered into and recorded an easement agreement intended to create a non-exclusive easement in perpetuity in favor of the site where the project was proposed.

The complaint also states that Tesoro interfered with a business relationship of the city’s in its attempt to impose a restriction not supported under the agreement.

Additionally, the complaint asserts that by engaging in this conduct, Tesoro intended to delay the proposed project and disrupt the City’s relationship or knew that such disruption of the relationship was certain to occur. The delays caused by Tesoro’s interference with the city’s business expectancy is jeopardizing Carson’s ability to create economic success and prosperity for its residents and the region, and causing the city and its residents to suffer substantial economic damages, Robles said.

The proposed project by a global name-brand high-tech manufacturing firm at the now empty site would have created over 250 construction jobs and almost 100 well-paying manufacturing jobs for the local community. However, the oil giant’s eleventh-hour legal objections essentially killed the prospect of bringing this major employer to the city and the over 350 well-paying job opportunity it would have created for local residents. The high-tech manufacturing company has since decided to explore a location elsewhere.

“What’s ironic is that the proposed manufacturing project had previously undergone an extensive review process over the past eight months which included a hearing at the planning commission and was in the process of coming before the city council when Tesoro submitted a letter of protest on the same day the project was scheduled to be heard,” said Mayor Robles.

“Seeking to create numerous well-paying jobs for local residents, the city council enthusiastically approved the project. In return, Tesoro filed its lawsuit to stop the project. Prior to city council meeting the oil giant never indicated any objection or concern of any kind during the public review process which leads us to believe this is nothing more than a meritless lawsuit,” Robles continued.

“As additional evidence, after conferring with Tesoro to discuss their purported concerns, in order to proceed the City and developer agreed to address each and every purported concern to the 100 percent satisfaction of Tesoro’s team, nevertheless Tesoro continued to object without any basis,” the mayor concluded.

City officials contend that the current Tesoro litigation will further delay the potential development of the site and discourage prospective companies from establishing operations there and cause them to seek to establish business presence elsewhere. The delays, officials say would cause the city major economic harm including the loss of local job opportunities for residents, and sales and tax revenues for the city which that could be reinvested into the local community.

Assistant City Attorney Wynder noted, “The City is deeply troubled by the use of litigation to prevent the City from facilitating attracting and siting of the kinds of clean energy good-paying jobs that are need in the City of Carson. As a consequence, the City has no choice but seek the intervention of the courts in California to end such practices.”

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