City seeks to amend bidding process

Ballot measure heads to voters

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gilroy city hall rosanna street

City officials, anticipating more large construction projects to come through the pipeline in the near future, are going to the voters in November in an attempt to update Gilroy’s bidding procedures.

The city council on June 20 unanimously agreed to put a charter amendment on the ballot, which officials say will modernize and speed up the construction bidding process if approved.

A section of the city charter that was adopted in 1960 requires the city to formally bid a public project that exceeds $35,000. The city is then required to advertise the project to construction bidders in a newspaper.

“The language is old and inefficient, and does not align with how things are done in other cities at this point,” City Administrator Jimmy Forbis said. “The costs of projects have greatly increased since the amounts established in the charter in the 1960s.”

Forbis said the amendment, if approved by voters, would eliminate the $35,000 cap and instead follow the threshold set by the California Public Contract Code, which is $200,000.

It would also remove the requirement to advertise in the newspaper, and allow for the bids to be published through other means, such as on the city’s website or by reaching out to a list of qualified contractors.

Forbis noted that the city could still advertise bids with the Gilroy Dispatch, but it’s not required to only advertise with the local newspaper, adding that in the past, most responses have come from the list of contractors.

The amendment would also allow for a “design-build” form of contract, where the city would only have to bid a project with a contractor. That contractor, in turn, would then form a team that includes a designer.

Currently, the charter requires the city to bid the project separately to a designer and construction contractor, which adds extra time and complexities, according to Forbis.

He pointed to the parking lot at Seventh and Eigleberry streets that is currently under construction as an example, where the city budgeted $1.5 million in early 2020, but the actual approved bid ballooned to $2.3 million.

“As we’re finding out in a lot of the bigger projects we’re doing, time is money,” Forbis said. “The longer it takes us to do projects, the more expensive it becomes.”

The “design-build” contract would also benefit the proposed ice rink facility at the Gilroy Sports Park, according to Forbis. The council unanimously agreed to a term sheet with Sharks Sports & Entertainment later in the June 20 meeting.

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Erik Chalhoub joined Weeklys as an editor in 2019. Prior to his current position, Chalhoub worked at The Pajaronian in Watsonville for seven years, serving as managing editor from 2014-2019.