Friday, April 10, 2015

Von's Approval Delayed Until August 4, 2015

At the April 7 City Council meeting, the Vons appeal hearing date was pushed back to August 4 (on a 2 to 1 vote) from the scheduled April 21 date due in part to questions about the water allocation for the new Vons store.

The initial appeal hearing date was set for March 17, but due to public concerns over the environmental impact and the Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND) of the project, the appeal hearing was pushed back until April.  This delay offered Avalon a chance to revise the MND, re-circulate it for public comment and make further analysis on the project.

We oppose the delay(s).  These delaying tactics are commonly used to kill projects.  Delay it long enough and it will die. Concerns and questions have been asked and answered and this project should move forward with all deliberate speed.  Moreover, the water allocation transfer appears to be perfectly reasonable to us.  This delay of the appeal is supposed to allow the City Council to get more answers about the project and allow the council to schedule a hearing with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) in July.
Front view of new Von's store

A council member and three Avalon residents sent letters to the CPUC requesting an audit of Southern California Edison’s water allocation practices for the Vons project.  The CPUC forwarded their letters to the Department of Water and Audits (DWA), which conducted an investigation into Edison’s allocation practices and found that “there were no violations of SCE tariffs at the time the decision was made.” Despite the audit’s findings and response, one council member wasn’t ‘sold’ and he felt that further analysis of the situation was needed.

Initial water allocation estimates for the project were made when Avalon was in Stage 1 water rationing. Edison originally was going to allocate new water to the project from the existing fresh water supply.   Now, in Stage 2 rationing, Edison couldn’t honor that allocation and the project needed to find a source of water.

Currently, the project, as approved by Edison, is planning on transferring water from the Wilcox Nursery and the Golf Gardens, which are both owned by the Santa Catalina Island Company, to the new Vons location. The Golf Gardens will stay open but the Wilcox Nursery will be closing. The Island Company offered the water to Vons for the project.  The idea of transferring water from these locations was heavily opposed by a few residents in attendance, who voiced that it looked as though Vons was getting preferential treatment.  (The Catalina Islander, 4/10/2015, Avalon City Council Meeting, Tuesday, April 7, 2015, Catalina Island Chamber of Commerce)

New Von's Store: Why Beacon & Sumner

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