A recent ruling by the Court of Appeal in favor of San Luis Obispo affirms that the city’s process for soliciting bids from potential contractors for Public Works projects is valid.
The owner of Vinciguerra Construction took the city to court in 2011 when the company did not receive a large sewer line replacement contract after submitting the lowest bid for the job.
The city instead awarded the $454,246 contract to D’Arcy and Harty Construction Inc., which had submitted the second-lowest bid, because Wayne Vinciguerra declined to provide a list detailing his firm’s experience in the kind of work being sought.
“This was a sewer project in close proximity to the downtown core and residential areas, and we wanted someone who had done this before to do it,” said City Attorney Christine Dietrick.
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In June 2011, San Luis Obispo Superior Court Judge Charles Crandall ruled that the city had violated the procedures outlined by public contract code for the bidding process on Public Works projects — making the city responsible for about $25,000 in attorney fees and additional costs accrued by the contractor.
However, the city appealed that decision, arguing that as a charter city, it has the discretion to require that bidders comply with specific criteria, in addition to what is required by state law, such as requiring work experience.
The 2nd District Court of Appeal in Ventura County overturned the decision July 16.
“We conclude that a charter city has authority to develop performance standards for Public Works projects and that such standards may be considered in determining a contractor’s responsiveness to an invitation for bids,” the ruling stated.
The appeal relieves the city of responsibility for the contractor’s costs. In addition, the city will be reimbursed for costs associated with the appeal such as filing expenses, but not attorney fees, which are estimated to be about $15,000.
Reach AnnMarie Cornejo at 781-7939. Stay updated by following @a_cornejo on Twitter.