Planning Director Amanda Cook says the Vons building project is on schedule. “They’re halfway through the preliminary grading,” she says. “They should be done next week and then they’ll let it sit 30 days for compacting.” Once the ground compacting is complete, work on the foundation can commence. Cook says the project should be completed by December 2018.
Last November, Vons and Catalina Eucalyptus Sumner Alliance, a residents’ organization, reached an agreement on the scope and other details of the project. Crews began removing hazardous materials from the construction site shortly after the agreement was reached.
The road leading to the approval to build has been rocky. In April 2015, the project was put on hold while the Avalon City Council investigated water allocation for the proposed building. In December 2014, CESA sent a letter to the City Council asking the body to reverse the Avalon Planning Department’s approval of the project. Residents were concerned over the environmental impact the 23,044 square foot store would have on the neighborhood.
While the project was on hold, city officials met with the California Public Utilities Commission to request an audit of Southern California Edison’s water allocation practices for the site.
These were drought years for the island and the rest of the state. Edison initially proposed to borrow water from local businesses owned by the Santa Catalina Island Company.
The Island Company signed off on the proposal, but some residents objected. Those residents believed Vons was receiving preferential treatment from the council.
New businesses on the island requiring fresh water receive it from a desalination plant; businesses must submit an application to use this water.
Edison, Vons, CESA and the council eventually came to an accord. According to Cook, when the store opens, Vons will staff it with employees from the store’s two existing locations on the island and will close those two locations.