Catalina Island

City Council Postpones Vons Appeal Until August 4th


Last Tuesday evening, April 7, 2015, the Avalon City Council held a special meeting on whether to postpone the Vons Appeal scheduled to be on the Avalon City Council Agenda for the April 21, 2015, meeting.

The Special Council Meeting was requested by councilmember Richard Hernandez to discuss and consider postponing the Vons Appeal until after the hearing with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) in July 2015. The council unanimously voted, by the three council members in attendance (Richard Hernandez, Joe Sampson, and Oley Olsen) to postpone the Vons Appeal until the first City Council meeting in August, which will be Tuesday, August 4, 2015.

On February 10, 2015 a letter was sent to the CPUC requesting an audit of Southern California Edison’s water allocation practices and status of recent letters submitted to the CPUC by Avalon residents. The CPUP sent a letter with the following reply to Council Member Hernandez:

“A number of Commission offices forwarded your letter of February 10, 2015 to the Division of Water and Audits (DWA) for review and response. We reviewed your letter and those of Leslie Warner, Pamela Albers, and Kathleen Carlisle and contacted Southern California Edison (SCE) for pertinent data related to new water allocations on Catalina Island. The letters of the three customers were received and investigated by DWA in December and January, and communications were initiated with SCE to investigate and analyze the water allocation concerns, which are the suject of these letters. As discussed below, DWA has determined that there were no violations of SCE tariffs at the time the decision was made regarding the water allocation to the proposed Vons store.

“DWA does perform audits on a regular on-going basis of investor-owned utilities under commission jurisdiction. As one form of an audit, DWA ensures that the utility follows its tariff rules when it performs its regulated funcitions and makes discretionary decisions. As to the subject of your letter, DWA audited SCE’s water allocation decision regarding the proposed Vons store and determined that SCE complied with the tariff rules that were in place at the time of the Vons grocery store water allocation approval. SCE did not violate any of its existing tariff rules.

“In addition to reviewing SCE’s water allocation decision, we also have been in communication with SCE’s Water Advisor, Ryan Stevenson. Mr. Stevenson has been in regular contact with the Avalon City Manager Ben Harvey and informs us that he intends to meet with you, Mr. Harvey, and any other interested staff. In addition, Mr. Stevenson has been directed by me to offer the services of a Commission mediator if informal meetings do not produce a satisfactory resolution.

“The Commission is very aware of the state-wide drought as well as Catalina Island’s unique water rationing situation. We want to work with the City of Avalon to satisfy you and your citizens that we are vigilant about the water service for Catalina Island cus-

“Thank you for your letter and please feel free to contact me if you need further information.”

The letter was signed by Rami Kahlon, Directror, Division of Water and Audits, CPUC. The letters from the three customers the PCUP recieved were from Pam Albers, Leslie Warner and Kathleen Hill Carislie, all of whom spoke at Tuesday’s meeting, challenging the amount of water that SCE allocated to the new Vons store and the way it was allocated. The allocation includes the transfer of water allocation from the two existing Vons stores, and additionally from Santa Catalina Island Company the transfer of water used by Wilcox Nursery, formerly located at the site of the proposed Vons store, and water saving at the Golf Gardens, the minature golf course located adjacent to the Vons site.

After discussion and listening to the public and Vons representatives, the City Council decided they should postpone the Vons appeal until after the public meeting with the CPUC in July.

Story by Barbara Crow