San Mateo to reject contractor bids

For the second time in six months, bids on a city project have come in millions of dollars over budget, forcing San Mateo to again act as its own general contractor.

Today, the San Mateo City Council will consider rejecting the three bids received for redevelopment of Harbor View Park at the east end of Monte Diablo Avenue. Each bid came in at least a million dollars over the $2.3 million budget for the project.

“We feel that we can do it in-house within our budget,” project manager Ronald Mason said. “It will mean a little more staff time, but ultimately we can do it and save the city some money.”

The three bids from Galeb Paving Inc., Interstate Grading and Paving Inc. and Robert A. Bothman Inc., were approximately $3.4 million, $3.6 million and $3.7 million, respectively.

In December, the City Council made a similar decision to reject all the bids received for the Central Park Japanese Tea Garden renovations and do the work in-house. The city awarded contracts for a total of $328,498.40. The lowest bid received on that project, from the Jensen Corp., was for $689,888.

“It seems like the costs of construction have gone up significantly for every project,” City Manager Arne Croce said.

The Harbor View Park project is the second phase of the shoreline parks redevelopment plans, meant to turn the eastern edge of San Mateo into a series of continuous parks along the Bay with wetland habitat, open space, and recreational paths and playgrounds.

As was done with the Japanese Tea Garden, the city will act as general contractor on the project and subcontract out with others to complete the work. Many of the contractors who bid on the garden project ended up working on individual portions of it.

An employee of Interstate Grading and Paving Inc., who declined to identify himself, said the only reason bids are so high is because of rising construction costs, fueled by increases in fuel, labor, materials and insurance prices.

“The city is experiencing the same increases,” he said. “They’re not going to save any money.”

He likened an in-house city project to a baseball team without a manager.

“They need someone with expertise to pull all the pieces together.”

Mason said he believes the city has the expertise and time to complete the project, although negotiations with subcontractors may move the projected June 1 start date back at least a month.

jgoldman@examiner.com

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