In a bid to approve more discretion for the city engineer, on Sept. 13 Pacifica City Council approved changes to city code.

City Council uses the standardized construction bidding procedures known as the California Uniform Public Construction Cost Accounting Act, which allows purchases in what is considered the “lowest tier” — those under $60,000 — to be made through city accounts, by negotiated contract or through a purchase order, said Director of Public Works Lisa Petersen.

The limits on construction costs has changed over time. In December 2015, the city adopted procedures relating to bidding procedures for public projects. The maximum value for the lowest tier option was raised to $45,000, the mid-range raised to $175,000 and the high range raised to projects above $175,000, Petersen said. As a result of rising construction costs, the state raised the dollar limits for the lowest valued projects from $45,000 to $60,000, and raised the dollar limit for the mid-range projects from $175,000 to $200,000, Petersen said.

The bidding process notice requirement will be shortened from 30 days to 21 days to more easily establish a list of contractors for bids, Petersen said.

Right now, staff brings designs, plans and specifications to City Council for approval prior to releasing a notice inviting bids. Sometimes those plans change as the project is executed. The delegation to the city engineer improves the city’s efficiency by expediting the award of bid processes and allows the city engineer to approve these plans and specifications without council approval, Petersen said.

Checks and balances will remain in place because the city engineer will remain bound by City Council’s approval of projects through the budget process and through the award of formal bid projects that exceed the City Manager’s authority, Petersen said. 

Public feedback will be handled through public meetings.

“For larger projects, we have public meetings. All the projects are listed on our webpage,” said Petersen.

Professional service contracts for engineering or architectural services that exceed purchasing authority also require City Council approval, Petersen said.

Jane Northrop has covered Pacifica for the Pacifica Tribune since 1996. She has won first place John Swett Awards from the California Teachers Association for her coverage of education.

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