This article originally appeared in the Friday, April 26, 2019 issue of the Progress Times.
The CDBG program was not impressed with the bid responses for four upcoming projects in Mission.
During this week’s city council meeting Jo Anne Longoria, the director of the Community Development Block Grant program in Mission, presented a couple of items regarding the Housing Assistance Program. One item awarded bids to multiple vendors (HAP Phase 18-II), and another approved the rejection and re-solicitation of four bids (HAP Phase 18-IIA).
The rejected responses were made for four projects, including the reconstruction of three two-bedroom two-bathroom homes and the rehabilitation of another.
According to Longoria, the lowest bid amounts for these projects exceeded the staff’s internal cost estimate and construction funds available.
Council member Jessica Ortega-Ochoa asked if rejecting and re-soliciting bids of this nature was common practice, and Longoria said it was not.
“It has happened sometimes before, but according to our guidelines we allow a 15 percent cushion [over budget],” Longoria said. “However, we did a cost comparison and in this particular bid, we saw that the bid amounts were lower and it wasn’t a reasonable amount, so we feel the contractors inflated the bids.”
Longoria noted that the budget for these projects “is not there” for what the responses for the bid were.
“We’re trying to seek a fair bid amount for these projects,” Longoria said.
Ortega-Ochoa asked if a training was offered to these particular construction companies that are trying to solicit the bids, and Longoria said they do have pre-bid construction meetings where the CDBG conveys guidelines on how the process works and how much is allowed for bidding.
“We feel that they were unreasonable in this,” Longoria said. Mayor Pro-Tem Norie Gonzalez Garza asked if these were new construction companies, and Longoria said they have been awarded similar contracts with Mission for previous projects.
Both Ortega-Ochoa and Gonzalez Garza made a point to say it was interesting that the companies are aware of the usual costs and parameters and did not meet the bid guidelines.
HAP Phase 18-II was approved, awarding bids for two housing assistance projects to A-One Insulation (costing $141,500) and one project to G & G Contractors (costing $69,350). Longoria said both companies were the lowest responsible bidders that met all the specifications from the department.
The Loretto at Mission was granted a conditional use permit renewal for life of use for the restaurant located on the northwest corner of Orange Drive and Griffin Parkway. A couple of residents from near the property came forward when the item was presented because they were worried about the truck that delivers food to the establishment using the alley adjacent to their homes.
“This establishment does have 30 parking spaces, however for an establishment of this size it is required that they have 37 parking spaces,” Planning and Zoning Director Jaime Acevedo said. “The owner of the establishment has made a lease agreement [to use parking] with the law firm that’s across the street, and they also have additional parking that they’ve secured with a new business.”
Resident Heraldo Ramon Cavazos said that in his experience, people driving use the alley a lot to make turns into the restaurant, despite previous conversations with the owners and signs he put up.
“I’m all for the business, the only concern I have is the traffic through the alley,” Ramon Cavazos said. “It’s getting busy, I do have little ones. I have a property fence line, I have reflectors that I’ve put out that get run over. The traffic is getting heavier as this business is growing, and my biggest concern is safety.”
Lupe Gonzalez, one of the owners of The Loretto in Mission, said they have attempted to remedy the situation.
“I can understand, and we’re willing to work with them and the Mission Police Department as well,” Gonzalez said.
Council decided that the permit would be granted under the condition that the food delivery truck starts making its weekly trip to The Loretto on Mondays, when the restaurant is closed, so it can park in the parking lot rather than the alley. The alcohol permit for The Loretto will still come up before the council if any other changes need to be made.
Council took no action on the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for the fiscal year ending in Sept. 2018 because it was not ready to be presented at the meeting. Ricky Longoria, who presented the report last year, was supposed to present again.
Finance Director Angie Vela asked that the item be tabled because the department had an exit interview last week and a couple of adjustments needed to be made.
“I’m very disappointed that it’s not ready today,” Ortega-Ochoa said. “We have people in the audience who came for those results. I look forward to the special meeting.”
Mayor Armando O’caña stressed that the city is not being penalized for not having it at this particular council meeting. A special meeting for the presentation of the report is tentatively scheduled for May 1 at 5:30 p.m.