Bakersfield-based Aera is a real estate development front for Oil Giant Shell and its minority partner Exxon-Mobil. Shell-Aera plans to build 3,600 houses, three commercial centers and a golf course in the golden crown of north Orange County, the hills between Harbor Blvd. and past the 57 Freeway at the Los Angeles and Orange County border. This grossly out-of-scale development will bring 40,000 additional car trips every day to area streets, 2,400 more students to our schools and put more pressure on an already limited supply of water. They will bulldoze ridgelines, destroy the watershed, degrade fresh water, denude grasslands and chop up oak and walnut woodlands. This is Shell-Aera’s Plan.

Not content to milk us at the gas pump; not content to be grateful for the profits on the oil they pumped off this land for decades, Shell-Aera now want to stick us in more traffic and get us coming and going.

Shell Oil, the largest oil company in the world is a 51% owner of Aera. Shell earned $14.058 billion dollars in profits in 2004. ExxonMobil, is a 49% owner of Aera, took in $16.98 billion dollars in profits.

Do they need to ruin our hills for even more money?


In May 2003, the counties of Los Angeles and Orange issued a Notice of Preparation (NOP) that they would be preparing a Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) on the Shell-Aera project. That DEIR is still being written. The fact that it is taking so long suggests Shell-Aera is struggling to come up with appropriate mitigations for all of the negative impacts.  State agencies that are involved will comment as well on the adequacy of the document.

These agencies include Cal Trans, State Parks, State Fish and Game, Water Resources, and Department of Oil and Gas. Environmental groups will also comment – groups such as Environment Now, Endangered Habitats League, Sierra Club, California Native Plant Society, and Natural Resources Defense Council, etc.

Much of Shell-Aera’s land is classified in the Los Angeles County General Plan as a “Significant Ecological Area” (SEA) because of the oak and walnut woodlands. The Technical Advisory Committee that analyzes the impacts of development projects in SEA’s determined in April 2006 that Shell-Aera’s plan was not in compliance with the rules governing SEA’s. In essence the Committee turned the project down.  Shell-Aera then had two choices – it could proceed through the planning process with a negative recommendation from an important (and legally mandated) Committee or it could redesign the project to bring it into compliance.  Ever greedy and opportunistic, Shell-Aera appears to be moving toward a third option. It is in discussions with the City of Diamond Bar in hopes of being annexed to this development friendly city.

Neighboring cities and unincorporated communities concerned about traffic and other negative impacts will have less of an opportunity to influence the project. Diamond Bar Council members will not need to pay attention to how others outside of their City, feel about this assault on the quality of all of our lives. In addition, SEA’s rules do not apply to cities; SEA’s only apply to unincorporated areas. So Shell-Aera’s move toward annexing to Diamond Bar is really an effort to avoid responsibilities to the conservation of important resources and an attempt to avoid scrutiny.

If this annexation proceeds, Shell-Aera will need to extensively amend its Draft Environmental Impact Report delaying the project further.