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Builder of Rinconada fire station files $600K claim against city

Original post made on Feb 2, 2022

The contractor behind Palo Alto's new fire station at Rinconada Park has filed a claim against the city, demanding about $600,000 in payments and blaming the project's delays on city errors.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, January 31, 2022, 4:30 PM

Comments (13)

Posted by Bystander
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 2, 2022 at 9:29 am

Bystander is a registered user.

I'm no expert, but having had to deal with the City in the past and having had to deal with delays and problems, all causing me extra expense not only in $$ but in time, my time, construction workers time, and ultimate family time, makes me think that it is about time that the City gets taken to the cleaners for their inability to do these things efficiently.


Posted by He Must Go
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 2, 2022 at 11:12 am

He Must Go is a registered user.

I hope the city is held responsible for this. [Portion removed] if the building official was actually doing his job then items like the ramp on the interior of the building would have been identified before construction began during the plan check process. [Portion removed] Odds are nothing will happen because [portion removed] there is no accountability for mistakes in Palo Alto, it needs to be at least a 1 million dollar mistake before Ed Shikada will take action.


Posted by Green Gables
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 2, 2022 at 11:28 am

Green Gables is a registered user.

Here is the problem with government entities having to take the lowest bid. The contractor can have MANY change orders. whether it is the City's fault or not. Example is the contractor for PAUSD B4E Walter Hays Elementary School as there were also MANY change orders. What an expensive proposition. Lack of proper oversight.


Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 2, 2022 at 11:55 am

Online Name is a registered user.

Just like the Mitchell Park Library project with its long delays and cost-overruns which were particularly egregious since the city brilliantly decided to rebuild Rinconada Library at the same time.

Did PA address the library closures by finally joining the county library system to give us access to other libraries during the 2+ years when ours were closed? Of course not. No budget for that, a mere fraction of the money wasted on poor project management. I think PA is STILL the only town not part of the county system.


Posted by Green Gables
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 2, 2022 at 12:55 pm

Green Gables is a registered user.

Online Name not all cities in Santa Clara County belong such as Mountain View, Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, or at least they are not listed. San Mateo County is a better library system. I've checked out books which I used at Stanford Continuing Ed classes. Go to the Menlo Park Library which is in Burgess Park and get a card. Of course, if you get on the wait list for a book, there is a cost to reserve


Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 2, 2022 at 2:25 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Most cities are; I forget all of them when I went to Los Altos and paid $85 for the county library card and started reserving books I was amused to see that Milpitas was one of the cities supplying me with books. Besides paying for to join and get the card, there was no cost per reserve. At least back then.

would have remember because I read a lot and reserve a many books, some of which had to be transferred to the convenient Los Altos branch.

Either way though, Palo Alto could have tried to find a solution for its taxpayers and their kids who were deprived of library services for years. But they didn't and it cost us hassle, money, travel time and irritation.

As per this article, their project management skills haven't improved and will still cost us money that could have been better spent.


Posted by JH
a resident of Ventura
on Feb 2, 2022 at 3:28 pm

JH is a registered user.

Change order requests are often the result of incomplete design documents, incorrect design documents, uncoordinated design documents and/or delay costs/time in issuing the contractor complete and correct design documents. Change order requests can also be claims by the contractor that are not well founded. We cannot tell from the article what is going on, so it is not appropriate to weigh in with a conclusion. If the parties (City and contractor) cannot settle their differences, a neutral third party will eventually review every issue and make a decision on each. Hopefully at that time, the City will provide an accurate assessment of the neutral third party's decisions.

That being said, the fact that this project was delayed as long as it was without any real large or significant design changes made to the original design plus all the finger pointing and jawing represented in the above article seems to indicate some real problems associated with design, construction or both.

Design and construction are very difficult to execute well.


Posted by Novelera
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 2, 2022 at 4:53 pm

Novelera is a registered user.

I see nearly everyone here is blaming the city. I work for a construction company. We lose jobs we've bid all the time to contractors who low-ball the bid and then hit the owner with lots of change orders. We try to do very thorough bids. Any changes that later result are because someone has asked for something to be changed or done differently. If our estimator made a mistake and underbid something, we eat that cost.

It sure sounds to me that these folks at Shawn might have been playing the start-low game with the City of Palo Alto.


Posted by He Must Go
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 3, 2022 at 11:22 am

He Must Go is a registered user.

One last point to cost overruns related to the City of Palo Alto is that as another commenter mentioned Mitchell Park Library. The common denominator here is the same person who is now our building official was the one managing the Mitchel Park Library. Coincidence, you tell me cost over runs at that time... weren't we just coming out of the recession? Yes , there were plenty of workers but the same old story. Poorly managed by city management.


Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 3, 2022 at 12:14 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

I don't work for a construction company but had plenty of time to wonder about its construction RFP process and how contracts are awarded after in the 8+ years I got stuck sitting 2 unnecessary traffic lights on an unavoidable road.

Why couldn't the city shut off the unnecessary traffic light at the Paly crosswalk during holidays, weekends and 2AM when school was closed and no one was there or expected? Couldn't that it at least lbe synchronize the light at the Paly driveway at Town & Country, mere yards away? Couldn't the city respond to phone and email complaints?

Finally the city promised action and forced the transportation czar to finally prepare a project RFP. He finally issued the RFP just before a Thanksgiving holiday with a very short response window to which he got no responses. So he re-issued the RFP just before Christmas, again getting no response.

After being forced out, he did get a multi-million-dollar for PA traffic light timing, (And a Los Altos lawsuit for putting a 24-hour blinking light right in front of a couple's bedroom window.)


Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 4, 2022 at 4:53 pm

Annette is a registered user.

BIG PROBLEM: bad headlines are becoming commonplace and this begs an ugly question. The City Manager's weekly report at City Council meetings should include an update on the issues, like this lawsuit, that are making headlines. That might increase accountability and lead to some actions that resolve some of the problems. The status quo is not okay.


Posted by Rebecca Eisenberg
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 7, 2022 at 4:45 pm

Rebecca Eisenberg is a registered user.

According to this article $315,718.80 of the contractor fees in dispute were from change orders that "were approved and executed." I cannot imagine a rational, legal, and contractual excuse for not paying those fees, given that the City approved the change orders, and the construction company executed the change orders. Fighting those sums is an avoidable waste of City resources, time, and budget.


Posted by CEQA Required
a resident of Community Center
on Feb 9, 2022 at 12:31 pm

CEQA Required is a registered user.

Did anyone do the math? According to the construction contract attached to the Council report that awarded the contract, there was a liquidated damages clause of $1,500 per day. Wasn’t the project at least one year late due to the contractor’s own labor and materials issues? One year alone of liquidated damages would be $547,000. Sounds like the contractor is trying to get out of paying those damages.


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