Avalon updates Pebbly Beach Road agreement

File photo

Agreement allows continued public access to privately owned section

The City Council on Tuesday, Oct. 4, voted unanimously to have the city manager update the Pebbly Beach Road easement agreement between Avalon and the Catalina Island Company.

The current agreement, which allows passage through a privately-owned section of the road, expires at the end of the year. Technically, the council authorized the city manager to negotiate an amendment and extension of the decade-old agreement.

City Manager David Maistros said the amendment gives a little more flexibility to the agreement for both the city and the Island Company.

“The Catalina Island Company owns a segment of Pebbly Beach Road extending from Abalone Point to the stop sign and gate near Avalon Freight Services. The area includes the paved roadway, as well as the seaward and upland unpaved shoulders of the road,” according to the staff report by Maistros.

“To mitigate liability issues, the Catalina Island Company closed the roadway for a period of time between 2007 and 2013,” Maistros wrote.

“In 2013, the City of Avalon and Catalina Island Company entered into an easement agreement for use of Pebbly Beach Road,” Maistros wrote.

“The agreement outlined a 10 year term, during which time, the roadway was to be made accessible for all golf carts, bikes, walkers, joggers. etc. as long as the City maintained responsibility for the maintenance of the road and maintained insurance indemnifying the Catalina Island Company and its affiliated companies,” Maistros wrote,” Maistros wrote.

“The agreement expires on December 14, 2022,” Maistros wrote.

“City Staff recommend the City Council authorizes the City Manager to negotiate an amendment to the agreement that establishes increases and clarifies the annual maintenance obligations outlined in of the current agreement,” Maistros wrote.

City Attorney Scott Campbell, participating in the meeting remotely, said his law firm had contacted the insurer and the insurer agreed to approve the extension.

Visitors may not know that Pebbly Beach Road and public access has a long, winding history on Catalina Island.

In August 2012, the Avalon City Council approved a first reading of the ordinance that officially reopened Pebbly Beach Road, according to a Jan. 11, 2013 Catalina Islander articel.

That reopening become a reality on Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012, then-Santa Catalina Island Company CEO Randall Herrel and then Avalon Mayor Robert

Kennedy signed an agreement that reopened Pebbly Beach, according to Islander article published in January 2013.

Kennedy at that time said the road had been closed seven or eight years.

The Island Company had closed the section of the road road that they owned in the face of safety and liability issues. In the past, large boulders have rolled down upon the road.

The California Coastal Commission, however, had asked the city of Avalon to reopen the road.

Mitigation measures were discussed, including a proposal to have nets catch the boalders, but did not happen in 2013 because California abolished redevelopment agencies.

Avalon’s redevelopment agency, called the Avalon Community Improvement Agency, contributed $1 million dollars to the proposed rockfall mitigation.

However, the California Department of Finance decided the ACIA’s contribution was not an enforceable obligation of the disbanded Avalon redevelopment agency, according to an August 2012 staff report by City Attorney Campbell.

So the Isalnd Company and Avalon reached an agreement to reopen the road.

At a later point in time, chain link fencing was installed as a rockslide mitigation measure.