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Council Rejects Proposed Contract with Arizona Company  

By Jonathan Friedman
Lookout Staff

August 12, 2010 -- Not wanting to break its Arizona boycott, the City Council on Tuesday rejected staff’s recommendation for a business team to provide replacement homes for the Mountain View Mobile Home Park. City staff will go to the open market to find a new team.

The City wants to purchase 20 replacement homes for the City-owned neighborhood because the older units are out of date and lack various amenities. After a selection process that lasted a year and a half, staff chose a team of Marmol Radziner Prefab from West Los Angeles and Cavco Industries Inc. from Phoenix for a $3 million contract. Based on cost and other reasons, staff said this team’s bid was far superior to the other six it received.

This proposal was a problem for several council members because in May the council approved a boycott against Arizona businesses due to the passage of the illegal immigration enforcement law, SB 1070.

“When we decided to enact the Arizona boycott, it wasn’t just about putting pressure, if you will, on Arizona,” Council member Gleam Davis said. “It was about taking a stand. And stands don’t mean much if the second they become inconvenient, you abandon them.”

The council asked staff to negotiate a new contract through an open market process. This is a rarely done procedure in which staff directly contacts businesses to find the best deal rather than go through the lengthy procedure of issuing a request for proposals and receiving bids. Andy Agle, director of Housing and Economic Development, said the open market option is much faster. If the city does not complete the purchase by April, it will lose the federal funding that is covering most of the cost for this project.

Although they voted along with their colleagues on Tuesday, Council members Bob Holbrook and Richard Bloom said they did not mind making an exception to the Arizona boycott. Bloom noted that when the council approved the boycott, it allowed for some flexibility.

“The fact is we’re not buying pencils and erasers here,” he said. “These are products intended to benefit the lives of Santa Monica residents, and they are homes that people will live in. We should be seeking the absolute best for our residents.”

Bloom also mentioned how Marmol Radziner Prefab is located not far from Santa Monica. He said rejecting a contract with this business would hurt local jobs. Bloom said staff should contact the company about using another partner. Agle said that was his first plan.

Three Mountain View residents spoke during the meeting. One said she did not support the selected team because she opposed SB 1070, another said he did not like it because he believed it would be cheaper to choose businesses in California and a third person said a majority of the residents preferred one of the other businesses that submitted a bid.

Although this contract will mostly be funded through federal dollars, there is still a cost concern for the city. The more money that is paid for this contract means fewer federal dollars that are available for other housing projects in Santa Monica.


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