Letters to the Editor: published Friday, Nov. 22, 2019

Avalon Theatre

It appears that the Casino Theatre is going the way of the SS Catalina, the Steamer Pier, and the MS Phoenix (Mud Scout, Captain Eddie told me). What a shame – who dreams this garbage up? You can bet it isn’t someone who lives here . . .

Steven Quinn, Avalon, CA

Key points left out of cruise ship article

Regarding the Charles M. Kelly article in the November 8, 2019 Islander “Council to look at cruise ship issue in December – Residents express concerns about transparency of ship visit approval and impact on community”

He left out a few key points.

At the August 6 City Council meeting a citizen asked about rumors circulating about an additional cruise ship, and asked the City Manager if that was true. Denise Radde, City Manager said there had been an inquiry about additional ships, but that information was confidential. She then stated nothing had been decided about the cruise ship and it wasn’t until 2021. Council said they were not aware of any negotiations and there would be plenty of time to discuss this additional cruise ship.

Two meetings passed with no mention of cruise ships on the agendas. On the 3rd meeting the Mayor said the aforementioned cruise ship was now a “done deal”, and it would be visiting not just in 2021 but also 2022, and there would be a few visits from Disney also.

Important point, the 2021 and 2022 ship, with a capacity of 3200 plus crew, is scheduled in the heart of summer. The citizens of Avalon were never given an opportunity to be heard. That’s when I asked if anyone could give me a good reason why perhaps one of the most defining issues for Avalon’s future should not be decided by its citizens. I recommended that the code be revised so the citizens have the ability to approve future cruise ship visits.

The report that solution-based comments regarding cruise ships were requested on Oct 1, was after the fact – it was already a “done deal”. In regards to the survey, I reported the survey results revealed that cruise ships had negatively impacted 70% of residents.

In my opinion, the code should also be revised for a more equitable fee structure. A report to the City Council from the Finance/Harbor departments from Jan 17, 2017 reported that other ports which use tenders already charge more for cruise ships to visit and unload passengers: Monterey charges $7 for their landing fee; the City of Santa Barbara charges $5 per person (passengers AND crew) plus $10,000 for the space for the tenders to land. While in that same report our staff’s recommendation suggested we raise our wharfage fee in a tiered way from $3 per passenger (no crew) in July 2017 to $5 per passenger (no crew) in 2021. Additionally, in order to entice a second ship visit, we agreed to return half of that ship’s wharfage fee, amounting to hundreds of thousands of refunded dollars over the years, while our aging infrastructure, landfill, phone/wifi, and other services are impacted and burdened.

Santa Catalina Island is a unique and extraordinary place, a “Magic Isle”. Avalon is a beautiful town and a great community. We are giving hundreds of thousands of dollars, over the years back to the cruise ships as an incentive to visit Catalina. Why are we selling Catalina short? Change the fee structure in the code and give the citizens their input via the ballot.


Randy Brannock