San Diego city leaders recently halted a contract to replace all the city’s parking meters with new, solar-powered versions that accept credit cards and hold the promise of more revenue for City Hall.
City officials acknowledged that while more than a year and hundreds of city staff hours were poured into the contracting effort, they decided to drop it when a “personnel matter” emerged, along with questions about the process. It marked another strange folly for the troubled city purchasing and contracting department, which for years has cycled through leaders and failed to deliver on important goals.
The parking meter contract was on its way to a San Diego company, IPS Group Inc.
Chad Randall, the company’s chief operating officer, said he did not know why the city aborted the contract after awarding it to IPS Group. He deferred all questions about the process to the city.
“I can tell you that IPS would be honored to have the opportunity to bring our world-class technology to the streets of our hometown at some point in the future,” Randall said.
He may still get the chance. In a peculiar twist, the deal with IPS Group is not dead. City staff is now exploring whether the city can still award the contract to IPS Group by piggybacking on a similar deal the Sacramento City Council recently approved with the company.
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First this procurement was handled incorrectly and awarded incorrectly and now the City wants to do a work around by piggybacking on a city of Sacramento contract?How does that make it right?That’s just a way for the City to bypass the process that is intended to keep them honest and is actually making matters worse!
Second parking meters are nothing but expensive vandalism targets, a cash register at every parking space! Guess what, its 2014 and parking meters are going the way of the Payphone, let’s not invest in obsolete technology.Do you really want a new parking meter?Don’t you really want to know where to find a parking place and pay for your parking event securely without having to use coins or low security credit card transactions being sent to the bank over the air?
Come on City… let’s not try and find workarounds to do the wrong thing, let’s look at modern technology that will take us into the next decade. This is government at its worst; let’s hit the reset switch on this mess.
Jake - it was not a "personal" matter it was a "personnel" matter --- I understand from this is that there are problems with employees --- usually when contracts like these are cancelled it would suggest that there are questions of 'honesty' or 'transperancy' or some such other problem. Tha it is a 'personnel' problem indicates to me that the problem is a serious one --- one which I hope to be wrong, but regardless it needs to be corrected with all speed possible.
How many people in the private sector could work on a project for this long and then scrap it and tell their boss it was scraped because of a 'personal matter' and still keep their job. I certainly would have to provide a much better explanation and justification. Why do public employees appear to be above such accountability? Absurd. Totally absurd!!
In the two short years I have lived in San Diego, CA this type of bureaucratic BS appears to be common place. Resources are stretched thin and yet nobody I state or city government seems to understand that.
Claiming that hundreds of man hours and public dollars were wasted because of a personal matter is hardly an adequate explanation. We deserve more. Much, much more.
Well, the good news is that the City didn't lock us into a horrendous 75 year lease giving all parking meter revenue, and essentially the use of all on-street parking spaces to a private company, like Chicago did. I don't know the specifics of the deal that was scrapped, but going forward we should make sure that we are buying (or leasing) the meters, and that the City gets the revenue and continues to control the assets (both the meters and the rights to on-street parking).
I occasionally use a credit card when I'm parking in a block that allows them and I don't have change but I've found that keeping a 35mm film canister with quarters in it in the car works really well for me.
For every infrequent example of City staff dropping the ball (in this case you are assuming way too much) there are thousands of examples daily of City staff doing excellent work and being very mindful of the efficient use of City resources.
The sport of bashing public employees is despicable. Wait until your services stop and perhaps you'll show a little appreciation.
Is there any way to estimate how much money this and other purchasing problems are costing taxpayers?
"Ensuring transparency ... is our no 1 priority" except when it comes to explaining why we screwed up a major public project. "Personnel matter" is not an acceptable answer. How much potential additional revenue to the city are we talking about?
Who has change for parking meters anymore when everything is paid for electronically? I live downtown and I often drive to other neighborhoods to shop because I don't happen to have change for the meters. If were a downtown business owner, I'd want to know what the heck is going on with these upgrades.
I read this with some skepticism because of the graft and corruption related to Portland and their meters. One of the city's commissioners is already in prison for bribes. Big juicy money.
I hope the “personnel” issue was not – how do we find new employment for parking meter coin collectors and counters etc.?
Comments (how many other inventions are we using from 1935?)
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Given the claim that they wanted to ensure transparency, and thusly cancelled the contract… they sure are pretty seemingly oblique about exactly *why* they cancelled it.
"...city’s antiquated pre-loaded card system..."
May be antiquated to you but works for me. Not perfect but better than coins or single-pay stations that don't refund your unused time.
I agree. Why does the city think the pre-loaded card is antiquated while rolling one out for MTS called the Compass Card? Perhaps the city could explain why the Compass Card couldn't also be used for parking.
I'm all in favor of allowing credit cards, but if the city doesn't want to be accused of price gouging, it shouldn't charge the credit card until the customer vacates the parking space so it can charge only for the time the car was parked.
And the antiquated 2-tier pricing system (free/charge) needs to be replaced with variable pricing with the goal of keeping each block of street parking about 85% full at all times. This means charging on Sundays (sorry) to make it easier for to find a parking space, and charging as little as 25 cents an hour during quiet periods to bring in more customers to local businesses.