Bond would skirt bid process 

A development deal for a new San Francisco forensics lab is drawing criticism for being included in a $652 million bond measure that is expected to go before voters in June to upgrade police and fire buildings.

The bond would pay for new emergency buildings, such as a Mission Bay Police Station, along with seismic upgrades to The City’s high-pressure fire hydrant system. But questions are being raised about the Mission Bay lab and other costs.

The proposal includes a “development package” for a forensic sciences center. The City would purchase a parcel of land at 1600 Owens St. from ARE LLC and would be required to use the design services of Studios Architecture and DPR Construction as a general contractor.

For the development deal to go through, the board would have to waive The City’s requirement to put the project out for a competitive bid. The total cost of the project is $238.6 million.

“A competitive bidding process gives you the assurance that whoever ends up getting the contract will give the best deal for The City,” Supervisor David Campos said.

About 90 percent of the remaining project costs would undergo a competitive bid process, according to mayoral spokesman Tony Winnicker, who defended the proposal.

In this “unusual case, it makes sense” not to put the project out to bid, Winnicker said. The bidding process would result in an additional cost of about $4 million, he said.

The Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee meets Wednesday to vote on the bond and, if approved, it will be sent to the full board. It would require six votes from the board to appear on the ballot.

Another “red flag,” Campos said, is the bond’s $132 million for  improvements to neighborhood fire stations, underground water cisterns, and water pipes and tunnels that would not be specified until after voters approve the bond.

“I think that these are issues that should be resolved before we go forward,” he said.

Supervisor John Avalos, chair of the budget committee, said, “The rationale makes sense to me” for not bidding the project. “It’s a really important measure,” he said. “I really just hope we have the ability to pass it this year.”


Bond breakdown

The Earthquake Safety and Emergency Response General Obligation Bond will cover the following projects and is expected to be on the June 8 ballot. It would need to be approved by two-thirds of San Francisco voters.

TOTAL BOND: $652 million
•$132 million Unspecified improvements to neighborhood fire stations, underground water cisterns, and water pipes and tunnels; specific projects identified once bonds is approved
•$238.6 million Construction of a new forensic sciences center
•$236.1 million Construction of a new public safety building
•$34 million Improvements to Auxiliary Water Supply System
•$10.9 million Bond oversight and bond issuance costs



Bond repaid through an increase in annual property taxes*:
•$0.0255 per $100 of assessed value
•Single family residence assessed at $500K would pay $110.93 annually

•Mayor’s Office says bond issuance timed in such a way for no “net increase” of property taxes

Source: Budget Analyst Harvey Rose’s report for Board of Supervisors

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