Escondido backs neighborhood improvements with borrowed funds, buys police vehicles

ESCONDIDO — In an effort to complete a street improvement project over five years in the works, City Council approved taking funds from a separate housing improvement project to cover the costs at its Oct. 16 meeting. 

Separately, council also approved the purchase of new police vehicles from a non-local dealer

Consisting of constructing new curbs, gutters, retaining walls, sidewalks, streetlights and street paving, the Grape Street Neighborhood Improvement Project was originally approved by council in 2008.

At that time, council allocated $450,000 in CDBG (Community Development Block Grant) funds that it had received from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for the project.

But the city reallocated $400,000 of those funds needed for the city’s Tiny Tot preschool months later, putting the project on hold in its design phase.

The city reopened the project in 2011 and began reserving portions of CDBG grants for its eventual construction. Over the past two years, Escondido has allocated $408,000 of CDBG funds.

On Wednesday council approved taking $375,000 in funds designated for the Elm Street/Habitat for Humanity Project and re-allocating it for the Grape Street project.

Danielle Lopez, a city management analyst for neighborhood services, explained that the Elm Street project is scheduled to commence during summer 2014. Therefore the city intends to reimburse project funding with CDBG grants from the 2014-15 fiscal year.

With funds in place, City Council approved hiring LB Civil Construction to carry out the Grape Street Neighborhood Improvement Project for $741,700.

In other business, council authorized the purchase of 23 Ford Interceptor police vehicles from Wonderies Fleet Group for about $636,000.

Deputy Mayor Olga Diaz pulled the item from the agenda’s consent calendar to question why the city was purchasing the vehicles from a dealer based in Los Angeles rather than one in San Diego.

While she noted that by law the city is required to buy from the lowest bidder, she said, “It’s a disappointment when we are not buying police vehicles from our local dealers.”

City Manager Clay Phillips explained that local dealers were consulted but did not come through with the lowest bids.

City staff did not have a recommendation for how to pursue more local purchases in the future due to the city’s obligation to accept the lowest bidder that meets project requirements.

The new vehicles will replace Ford Crown Victoria patrol vehicles that have been in service for eight to 11 years, which is past their standard service life expectancy.


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