Letters to the Editor: Friday, March 2, 2018

Yes, Catalina needs a new hospital

Does Catalina Island need a new medical center? For those of us who lived in Avalon in the late 1950s and remember when our hospital was closed, the answer is yes because that is what will happen to our current hospital by the year 2030. It is not something that we, nor anyone would want to experience again.

Our current hospital was built in 1960 and was designed to serve a population of about 1,600 people with fewer annual visitors than we have today. I recently served as a director on the Catalina Island Medical Center Board of Directors. During the ten years I was on the board, I saw firsthand the time, effort and major expense that went in to maintaining the building in some sort of operating condition. Those days are over. We can no longer put band aids on the problems. It is not enough to just fix the failing infrastructure, but State requirements mean a new facility is needed. While we’re building a new facility, why not build one that meets our current and future needs?

I have spoken with others who live in a rural area and who have faced a similar situation with their hospital. They have had to foot the bill for the major improvements through their property taxes. The initiative on the April 10 ballot to implement a $l.00 Transit Tax on every incoming and outgoing ferry, helicopter and cruise ship passenger will allow for the funding of a new medical center without placing an undue burden on just one segment of our community.

2030 is not that far away. There’s major work that needs to begin now to get this project completed in a timely manner. It is critical that the Transit Tax is approved on April 10.

Rose Ellen Gardner



Be prudent about hospital tax

Avalon voters are faced with a huge and far-reaching financial decision on the April 2018 ballot. While I do believe we need a medical facility in Avalon, I feel that this measure as proposed gives a carte blanche ticket to the hospital administration for an unknown period of time with minimal specific project information, minimal input from the community and stakeholders and without taxing the boat passengers that moor in Avalon Bay.

Why is there not a term limit on this tax? Hospital Administration stated the time frame was 40 years. Are we to give the hospital millions of dollars for the next four decades at which point the hospital may need more costly maintenance and we will be asked to fund it for decades beyond that?

Where will the hospital be built, how much will the land cost or what lease agreement will be executed and why are those details not being provided before we vote on this measure?

Why does the tax not include the private boat passengers that arrive, moor and depart from Avalon Bay? ? Hospital Administration told me that the California State Lands Commission would not allow it. After contacting the State Lands Commission I was provided with a letter sent to the Avalon City Attorney: “Staff (State Land’s Commission) thus agrees with the city (Avalon) conclusion that the proceeds from the local non-discriminatory tax (hospital tax) on activities that are, in part, located on granted tide and submerged lands (moorings) may be used for local non trust purposes (hospital).” (Words in parenthesis are mine to clarify.) Boat passengers that moor in Avalon Bay should be included in this tax to make it equitable.

How do we know for certain that the “New Programs” initiated by the hospital, and subsidized by this tax will bring more profit to the hospital? How can we be sure that people will want to come to Avalon for plastic surgery or other elective treatments and pay the rural hospital rates when they may have much more sophisticated, and affordable options on the mainland?

How will the city of Avalon be able to levy similar taxes in the future for much needed infrastructure projects when our residents and visitors are tapped out by this hospital tax?

What was the response from the cross channel carriers, helicopter service and Cruise Ship industry regarding this tax? How will this tax impact the future of cruise ships coming to Avalon?

Let us be prudent in deciding upon this tax and consider all the ramifications before we approve it. Why not send it back to the drawing board and insist it be more specific and equitable for all concerned?

Leslie Warner



Answers to hospital ballot questions

Leslie Warner is an exceptional person and fantastic thinker. Her questions related to the hospital ballot initiative are astute and thoughtful, but most have been answered already.

The board and foundation of the hospital have been dealing with the state-imposed deadline for retrofitting our building for years.

Since Jason Paret was hired, we have funded studies, research projects, inspections, audits, analysis and polls. Important note: one survey found that 73 percent of the patients using our ER were islanders.

Think about that.

If you need a hospital it has to be there. It’s convenient if you want services, but IMPERATIVE if you have an emergency.

The BEST (and we have looked at ALL) solution to foster an up-to-date facility is to have everyone contribute to funding it.

Thus we have asked for a $1 a trip transit fee. Millions of tourists (think of the over 50 rugby players or the downhill skateboarders) would help fund the hospital for less than a the price of a cup of coffee.

People worry that the ballot measure would be forever, but a ballot measure to rescind it would end it.

People ask why not wait until the November ballot, but that would cost about $40,00 (yes, really) and the hospital has spent thousands already to get the information that leads us to this point.

Sometimes we just have to do the right thing. Sometimes we have to take things on faith and trust people to do what is good for everyone. Sometimes we have to quit debating and just say yes.

Judy Grear,

CIMC board member