Dear Editor – Consultants and Clarity

Dear Editor, 

On December 14, the Culver City Democratic Club held a “State of the City” online event with outgoing Mayor Alex Fisch. During the Q&A section, Mr. Fisch called into question the city’s work on our state-mandated Housing Element, which is currently up for review by HDC. (The city is holding two Housing Element Update virtual meetings on January 6, and January 24, 2022. Please visit CulverCity.org to sign up and attend).

When a constituent asked him why Christopher Elmendorf, a UC Davis law professor would write a November 2020 email that he was on calls with Culver City officials who “want guidance on how to write a prohousing housing element,” and that they are “trying to monitor and control their consultants,” Mr. Fisch made some misstatements about the hiring of Raimi + Associates. Raimi + Associates is the consultant team who was contracted by the City to work on the General Plan Update (GPU) and Housing Element.

Specifically, Mr. Fisch said, “… there were no competitive bids. We didn’t get two responses to our RFPs. Not one.”

This is a factually inaccurate account. According to city records, Mr. Fisch himself participated in the selection process, notably on January 24, 2019, and again on January 28, 2019. Moreover, on January 28, after Councilmember Daniel Lee raised the motion to approve Raimi + Associates, Mr. Fisch seconded the motion. The council voted unanimously to select Raimi + Associates.

At that same meeting, Mr. Fisch said, “I’m inclined to vote for Raimi also,” and “My vote is for Raimi.”

We do not know why Mr. Fisch said that the City of Culver City did not receive competitive bids. The numbers are clear: the city received 9 proposals, the subcommittee (that included Vice Mayor Meghan Sahli-Wells and Mayor Thomas Small) narrowed the candidates down to four, and from those interviews recommended that the City Council interview the top two candidate teams. Raimi + Associates was subsequently awarded the contract after full-council interviews and deliberations. In addition to Sahli-Wells, Small, Fisch, and Lee, Goran Eriksson was also on the council.

Here is the timeline of events regarding the city’s RFP and RFQ process for hiring consultants:

· August 30, 2017: City Council approved the issuance of GPU Request for Qualifications (RFQ)

· September 6, 2017: RFQ was issued

· September 29, 2017: 36 submittals received in response to RFQ

· November 16, 2017: City Council approved qualified consultants list based on submittals to RFQ

· April 23, 2018: City Council approved the issuance of GPU Request for Proposals (RFP)

· April 26, 2018: RFP was issued

· June 21, 2018: Nine proposals received in response to RFP

· September 6, 2018: City Council GPU Subcommittee decided to interview the four top-scoring teams, based on proposal scores

· October 18, 2018: Four top-scoring teams were interviewed

· November 6, 2018: City Council GPU Subcommittee recommended the City Council interview the two top teams, based on proposal and interview scores

· January 24, 2019: Council interviewed the two top teams, Raimi + Associates and Interface Studio at a special meeting

· January 28, 2019: Council voted unanimously to approve Raimi + Associates as the consultants for the General Plan Update and Housing Element

· June 25, 2019: The contract with Raimi + Associates was executed


We hope that Mr. Fisch retracts his comments. It is important that constituents trust that the statements council members make are supported by facts. Otherwise, why would we believe that the decisions they make are in the community’s best interest?

Culver City Neighbors United
CulverCityNeighborsUnited.org

Ting Internet is in Culver City!

3 Comments

  1. I’m thinking he was referring to Veronica Tam, the housing element consultant and not Raimi, the general plan consultant. We’re there any bids to be the housing element consultant besides Veronica Tam?

  2. With all due respect to my friends at Neighbors United, they do appear to be confusing two different consultant hirings. Raimi + Associates was indeed hired (from many candidates) to consult on the General Plan Update… the city’s overall plan for safety, transit, conservation, everything. But a separate consultant named Veronica Tam Associates (VTA) was hired specifically to consult on Culver City’s Housing Element Update (one of many legally-required components of the broader General Plan Update).

    VTA’s bid was the only one submitted to Culver City for our Housing Element Update. None of VTA’s competitors deigned to apply. Which is exactly what then-Mayor Fisch reported at the 12/14 Culver City Democratic Club meeting.

    I’m sure this is an innocent mistake on the part of Culver City United Neighbors. It can be hard to keep all the consultants straight! Still, I hope that my friends will retract their letter.

  3. I was referring to the process by which our housing element consultant was selected, and I stand by my remarks. In fact, I’ll be surprised if United Neighbors or anyone else can locate a single instance, statewide, in this cycle of housing elements, where any city received competing bids to serve as housing element consultant. I have looked at several requests for proposal and the staff reports where cities awarded contracts and in each instance the process was as I described: uncompetitive. Maybe that’s fine, because there are a whole lot of housing elements to prepare in a relatively short period of time, but it’s a fact. I thought I was pretty explicit, with my specific references to Placeworks and its administration of SB 2 funds, but now it is hopefully crystal clear. I invite United Neighbors to start the new year with a bit of comity and fess up to its mistake.

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