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By Shawn Raymundo
While an award for the city’s multiyear tree maintenance contract remains in limbo, West Coast Arborists has been tapped by the city to conduct emergency services for the next three months.
“(The city) asked us, ‘Would you be the person to do emergency work while we decide what to do?’ ” Patrick Mahoney, president of the Anaheim-based company, explained on Tuesday, Nov. 3.
WCA, United Pacific Services and the locally owned Rod’s Tree Service are currently competing for the city’s five-year tree service contract, which has been caught in a stalemate between city councilmembers since early September.
The council had reached an impasse over how to proceed with awarding the contract, as acting Mayor Laura Ferguson and Councilmember Gene James supported a motion to reject the companies’ latest bids and initiate another solicitation process.
Councilmembers Chris Hamm and Kathy Ward, however, voted against doing so.
That motion, proposed by James, came after mounting pressure from community members to award the service agreement to Rod’s, the city’s longstanding contractor, despite WCA being named the top bidder.
The council had voted two previous times since April to reject the bids from Rod’s and WCA, and instructed staff to put out new, modified requests for proposals. All three times the contract has come before the council, city staff has recommended WCA as the winner based on price bids and other criteria.
According to the city, United Pacific’s bid was the lowest for the latest RFP, coming in at $196,500. Rod’s bid was the highest at $266,620.
Though WCA’s bid was for $219,200, the city, per council’s direction, took other aspects into consideration, including adequate knowledge of local conditions, experience of key project staff, work plan and approach, and project experience, among others.
During the solicitation process over the past few months, Rod’s, which had been the city’s tree service vendor for more than 40 years, continued to operate on a month-to-month basis. However, as City Attorney Scott Smith explained to the council in September, that agreement had likely reached its limit.
According to Mahoney, the city recently put WCA on an emergency callout agreement, which was utilized for the first time Tuesday, when crews were asked to tend to some trees that had tilted outside the Ole Hanson Beach Club because of last week’s strong winds.
“We were at the best price, so they said, ‘Would you do an emergency until we can get the contract out?’ ” Mahoney said of the current agreement.
Asked about the status of the agreement stuck in gridlock, Mahoney said, “It’s been very quiet . . . I don’t know what (the city is) trying to do.” As of press time, neither officials with the city nor Rod’s had responded to requests seeking comment.
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.