The California Oil Museum in downtown Santa Paula has a new owner.
The City Council voted 4-0 on Wednesday to seize the property owned by Chevron at 1001 E. Main St.
“We now own the Union Oil Building,” said Mayor Andy Sobel after the decision was applauded by the audience.
Councilman Carlos Juarez recused himself due to conflict of interest. Juarez co-owns property less than 500 feet from the museum.
The city will pay $1 for the property and $10 for memorabilia and other items stored there, said City Attorney Monica Castillo. The transaction will close on December 31. Once the agreement is signed, the city will have 45 days to complete a due diligence inspection of the site.
The city will also receive a $2 million grant if it prepares a plan that describes what needs to be repaired and how much it will cost. The grant must be used for the improvements described in the plan.
The plan is mostly complete, according to the city.
If there is any unused money awarded 24 months after the deal, the amount will be put into an endowment fund for building maintenance, repairs and improvements.
Since July 1, 1993, the city has leased the property to operate the California Oil Museum on East Main Street from Chevron through its affiliate, Union Oil Company of California. The building is about 130 years old.
The city is responsible for repairs and maintenance. The small nonprofit California Oil Museum Foundation runs the museum.
The foundation, which aims to share the historical importance of the petroleum industry, closed the museum in September 2021 due to financial difficulties resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
In October 2022, the City Council began reviewing property ownership, which will expand opportunities for grants and fundraising.
Chevron offered to donate the property to the city in November 2022, including the main building, rig building and parking lot.
“We’re really thankful for Chevron’s gift,” City Manager Dan Singer said Wednesday.
As of November 2022, city staff is working with a committee that includes Sobel, Vice Mayor Leslie Cornejo and others to identify potential uses for the property once the acquisition is complete.