City Of Santa Barbara Sues Over Refugio Oil Spill, Cites Tax Losses Due To Drop In Tourism

May 20, 2016

There are hundreds of million dollars in claims and lawsuits against the company which owns the pipeline which ruptured in Santa Barbara County last May, spilling more than 140,000 gallons of oil.  Now, a South Coast city filed one of the latest lawsuits.

The City of Santa Barbara says it lost millions in tax revenue as a result of the pipeline break at Refugio State Beach, even though the oil never reach the city.  

City officials say some of the media coverage of the spill created the perception Santa Barbara was awash in oil, and so chased away a huge chunk of visitors during the peak tourism season. The city is seeking $2.1 million dollars in compensation. Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider says while local media correctly identified the spill’s location, many regional and national media outlets didn’t.

The spill was more than 20 miles west of the city. Even this week, some Los Angeles media outlets used phrases like "the oil spill in Santa Barbara," instead of saying Santa Barbara County.