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Council Asked to OK $750,000 Addition to 911/ECOC Architectural/Engineering Design Contract and Extend Term to Sept. 30, 2004

(March 30, 2001) -- City staff plans to ask the City Council at its April 3 meeting to approve an amendment to City Hall's contract with Fluor Daniel, Inc. for architectural/engineering design work on the city's long-promised 911/Emergency Communications & Operations Center (ECOC). increasing the contract amount by $750,000 and extending its term to September 30, 2004.

In May, 1998, the Council approved the original contract for $3.25 million and allowed for a 25% increase in this amount. On December 1, 1999, the City Manager, as authorized, increased the contract amount by $649,565 (about 20%).

A city staff memo to Council by signed Public Works Director Ed Shikada, and co-signed as approved by City Manager Henry Taboada, recites in pertinent part:

After the initially proposed site at the [Stearns Park area] Fire Training Center was abandoned, a new site was located at Spring Street and Redondo Ave...The change of location required new site-specific drawings/specifications be prepared including redesign of the communications tower. Additonally, geotechnical testing and seismic calculations were required.

Because of the abovementioned reaosns, an amendment to the agreement is required. The amendment will increase the contract amount by $750,000, update the rate schedule, and extend the term to September 30, 2004.

City staff's memo to Council does not specify a new completion date for the 911/ECOC.

Staff's memo indicates sufficient funds are already budgeted in the Public Works Department's Capital Improvement Fund and Civic Center Fund to cover the $750,000 increase, if the Council approves it.

Additional background and analysis

In August 1996, when City Hall sought public approval for a tax increase to finance what it called an urgently needed project, the City Council (on motion by then-Councilman, now Assemblyman Alan Lowenthal) passed an impressive sounding but non-binding "minute order," publicly committing to complete the 911/ECOC project by the end of 1999.

Mayor Beverly O'Neill co-signed the 911/tax increase ballot argument, reiterating the Council's "commitment" to a Dec. 31, 1999 completion date.

When the public refused to approve the tax increase by the legally required 2/3 margin, then-City Manager James Hankla devised alternative financing. [ comment: In our view, this showed the proposed tax increase wasn't necessary in the first place.]

The alternative financing was in place within roughly six to eight months, meaning if the Council had been committed to its publicly stated completion schedule, the new 911 ECOC would have been completed about six to eight months later than first promised, roughly mid to late 2000.

Instead, in December 1999, a city staff memo conceded City Hall's best case scenario for completing the 911/ECOC at its then favored Stearns Park site was mid-2002.

Public opposition to the Stearns Park neighborhood site then led the Council to direct staff to identify alternative sites. A new site has been identified at southeast corner of Redondo Ave. and Spring Street (near the Water Treatment Plant).

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