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By Shawn Raymundo
After receiving bids for a three-year tree service contract, the city council last month voted to reject the two bids received while simultaneously directing staff to put out a new bid for a five-year contract.
The city had received bids from the Anaheim-based West Coast Arborists and from Rod’s Tree Service, a local business that’s currently under a one-year contract set to expire next month. According to the city, West Coast’s bid was priced at $304,560 while Rod’s was $424,700.
At the start of the council’s discussion on the item during the April 21 meeting, which was conducted via teleconference, staff presented submitted testimony from Richard Rodriguez of Rod’s Tree Service.
“San Clemente is our home and our community. The work we do here is done with the love and respect for the city of San Clemente and the people who we live in the community with,” Rodriguez said in the prepared remarks. “We’re a local tree service that has been serving the local community for 40-plus years.”
His statement went on to note that 80% of the company’s employees are San Clemente residents who that have “a great relationship and rapport” with city staff and other city contractors, as well as other business community members.
Rodriguez also wrote that Rod’s donates more than 100 trimmed trees every year in addition to the contract, saving the city nearly $13,000.
Touching on Rodriguez’s comments, Mayor Pro Tem Ferguson said the local contractor has given a lot back to the community.
“All of the extra service and what they give back to the community in terms of the outreach to support and donate, it’s such an additional contribution for the quality of work they do as well,” she said. “Such good will they give to the community.”
The staff’s recommendation that night was to approve the three-year contact with West Coast. Under that proposed contract, West Coast would provide tree services for $304,560 the first year with a 20% contingency of $60,440.
Price adjustments could have been made annually with increase based on Consumer Price Index. The contract also allowed for the city to re-up with West Coast for two additional one-year contracts.
Mayor Pro Tem Laura Ferguson proposed rejecting the bids and having the companies come back with flat fees, meaning no contingencies included, in light of the coronavirus pandemic that’s expected to impact the city’s revenues in the coming months and years.
“I would like to reject those bids and have the companies return with at another date with a flat fee, so no contingency, no surprises in the contract, considering we’re going to watching every penny, for the next few years,” Ferguson said during the late-April meeting.
Councilmember Chris Hamm agreed the council should reject the bids but was against having the companies come back with flat rates. Instead, he proposed, the council should put the contract out to bid for a five-year deal.
Then-Mayor Dan Bane asked his colleagues to bifurcate the motion, first taking a vote to reject the bids and then vote on the proposal to put the contract back out to bid. With the April 21 meeting being his final night as a councilmember, he wanted to abstain from the latter vote. In a unanimous decision, the council rejected the two bids. Then in a 4-0-1 vote, the council directed staff to reinitiate the bid process, but with for a five-year contract instead of three.
Shawn Raymundo is the city editor for the San Clemente Times. He graduated from Arizona State University with a bachelor’s degree in Global Studies. Before joining Picket Fence Media, he worked as the government accountability reporter for the Pacific Daily News in the U.S. territory of Guam. Follow him on Twitter @ShawnzyTsunami and follow San Clemente Times @SCTimesNews.