Costa Mesa council OKs modified outsourcing RFP

The Costa Mesa City Council voted Tuesday night to send out a modified version of its request for bids to outsource facility maintenance, despite a warning that the move could violate city policy.

"The people who would actually perform the work have no input if [the modified request for bids] actually lists the work currently being performed," said Jennifer Muir, spokeswoman for the Orange County Employees Assn. speaking on behalf of its subgroup, the Costa Mesa City Employees Assn.

Muir pointed out that city policy requires employees to have an input into a request for proposal, or RFP, that will affect their jobs.

Employees were involved in the original RFP to outsource facilities maintenance, but no responses satisfied the request.

The council on Tuesday was faced with sending out a modified version of the RFP, and Muir claimed such an action requires another round of employee input.

She managed to convince Mayor Eric Bever, but not the council's three other reliable votes for city outsourcing.

In a 3-2 vote, with Bever and Councilwoman Wendy Leece dissenting, the council approved sending out the RFP.

"I was hoping to maybe avoid another $2-million lawsuit here," Bever said after the vote.

The city has racked up hundreds of thousands, if not more than $1 million, in legal fees in the last year defending itself in a lawsuit from city employees over proposed outsourcing.

Earlier in the meeting, the council unanimously passed a resolution opposing an Orange County Transportation Authority proposal that adds to toll roads to the San Diego (405) Freeway through Costa Mesa.

Criticized as the most expensive of three freeway widening options to address traffic, OCTA's Alternative 3 creates two toll lanes in lieu of a regular carpool lane and costs $1.7 billion while still falling $680 million short in funding.

It also requires years of construction in Costa Mesa and the rebuilding of the Fairview Road bridge, which was reconstructed just three years ago with $7 million of city money.

Nevada Avenue resident Janice Baker complained that Alternative 3 moves the freeway sound walls closer to her home.

"It becomes a block wall prison," Baker said, saying she spoke for many of her neighbors who live near Moon Park and the Santa Ana River. "We are totally, totally opposed to option three."

She wasn't alone. City officials have voiced their opposition to Alternative 3 — introduced in January 2009 — since the project gained steam earlier this year. Dozens of residents Tuesday night joined the chorus of criticism.

As part of its resolution opposing the costliest of OCTA's construction alternatives, the city and many residents threw their endorsement behind Alternative 2, a $1.4-billion project that adds two general-purpose lanes in either direction from Euclid Street in Fountain Valley all the way north to the San Gabriel (605) Freeway.

No matter which project the OCTA and, ultimately, the California Department of Transportation chooses, some north Mesa Verde homes near Moon Park will be affected. All three of OCTA's 405-widening propositions rebuild the Ellis Avenue onramp to the 405.

Huntington Beach Mayor Don Hansen, who Costa Mesa's representative on the OCTA board, said residents need to think about the rest of the county.

"I completely understand construction fatigue," Hansen said, but he cautioned that formally opposing any constructive alternative now was premature.

Hansen urged the council to hold off on the resolution and give the OCTA time to possibly revise its proposed alternatives.

"Can't do that. I'm sorry," Councilman Gary Monahan said.

Twitter: @JosephSerna

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