Regulations blocking food trucks on Casino docks

The Casino dock.

Although city officials are not giving up, the idea of having food truck events on the Casino docks this summer seemingly won’t happen without overcoming some major bureaucratic hurdles, according to a report they received Tuesday.

Following a vivid discussion of the Casino dock property at their previous meeting, the council instructed the staff to investigate options available for food trucks or pop up restaurants so the area around the Casino dock property could be better utilized.

Dan Huncke, Avalon Community Services Director, told the council that although his investigation is still ongoing, it appears as though a number of state food regulations governing food trucks and restaurants may keep foodies away from the docks for a while.

The lack of a nearby commissary is a major obstacle, said Huncke, who told the Council that not having one “makes it difficult, if not impossible” to make food trucks a reality – at least in the short term.

“Well that’s a real let down,” said councilmember Cinde MacGugen-Cassidy, who seemed to reflect the feelings of the entire Council who want to get some food action going out near the Casino. However, there are glimmers of hope, said Huncke, adding that some combinations of food services may be available for a limited situation, such as having 24 named events within a 90-day period for specific promotions.

One by one, the council discussed a variety of dining options for the area, including pop-up restaurants, building a temporary building and similar possibilities for food service on the Casino food docks.

The Council’s long-term goal is to have a restaurant there. Until further solutions can be found, the city gave Huncke permission to assemble temporary tables and chairs on the site for divers who and others who may want to congregate there.

Mayor Anni Marshall even suggested having local restaurants establish “dock deliveries” to allow people to call in to local restaurants and still be able to eat on the docks until more permanent arrangements can be made.

During their discussion at the previous meeting, the Avalon council discussed ownership of the property. Council member Joe Sampson questioned the Island Company’s ownership of the property and chaffed at the high cost of the lease being offered to the city.

He suggested the Island Company was “holding the community hostage” in offering a lease that could jump the annual cost to more than $130,000 per year.

Island Company CEO Randy Herrel, in addressing other concerns at this week’s meeting, seemed intent on clarifying the Island Company’s ownership of the property.

He said that in 1944, in addition to the the State Lands Commission, several California agencies, and the city of Avalon, ruled that the Casino land was owned by the Island Company.

Herrel said the land has been maintained at Island Company expense since then. As recently as four months ago, the city reconfirmed the Island Company’s ownership of the property, said Harrell. Regarding the price of the proposed lease, Herrel said Island Company is offering to lease the property to the city at one dollar per square foot less than “the city charges us (The Island Company) to lease their (city-owned) land.”

Acting city manager Denise Radde said the city is currently in negotiations with Herrel and the Island Company and was optimistic that a mutually beneficial agreement could still be worked out.

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