Bill Silverfarb/Daily Journal file photos
San Mateo spends up to $150,000 a year removing graffiti from city-owned property. The city is moving to outsource the service but the City Council delayed its vote to learn more about the company the city may contract with after the mayor learned of some past incidents that caused him to question the company.
The company San Mateo staff picked to remove unsightly graffiti on city-owned property will have to wait a few more weeks to find out if it got the job as a couple of past incidents have caused the council to take a closer look at the Graffiti Protective Coatings, Inc., based in Hayward.
A former GPC worker in Burbank got the company in hot water last year after police learned he was spray painting graffiti in the city and then charging to remove it.
The company also faced allegations last year that it was overbilling the city of San Jose to remove graffiti based on a contract that pays the company for abatement based on square footage.
Last week, San Mateo Mayor David Lim requested the item be moved to a later date for a vote after the council has a chance to look at the company’s past and the other competitive bidders.
The city spends about $150,000 a year now for removal but GPC has offered to do the job for $96,000 a year.
Lim found out about the Burbank incident on his own prior to the scheduled council vote on the item but learned about the allegations in San Jose after the vote was delayed.
He sent staff a series of questions to be answered by the July 15 council meeting related to GPC and the San Jose allegations.
Lim’s questions were:
• Did staff know of the concerns raised by the San Jose City Council?
• Did staff know of the cost overruns in San Jose? Does this affect our contract?
• If staff was not aware of these issues, does this information affect staff’s recommendation to council? Why or why not?
Interim Streets and Facilities Manager Matt Bronson replied back in an email that staff was aware of concerns raised by the council in San Jose but that many on the council still support GPC.
Bronson also replied that staff was aware of the initial cost overruns experienced with San Jose’s contract but that the city still estimates it saves roughly $600,000 a year by outsourcing the service.
“As indicated earlier, staff is aware of these issues and monitored San Jose’s use of this service delivery model and this contractor prior to conducting our own competitive request for proposals process for this work. The issues in San Jose did not impact our staff recommendation to contract with GPC for this work as a result of the RFP process. Overall, city staff in San Jose overseeing graffiti removal has been very pleased with GPC’s work and provided us with a strong recommendation about the responsiveness and quality of service similar to other cities we’ve talked with,” Bronson wrote in a email to Lim and city staff.
In Burbank, police eventually arrested the employee using Graffiti Protective Coatings’ own proprietary smartphone software and the city still contracts with the company.
The company’s owner, Carla Lenhoff, told the council at a recent meeting that the former employee was a “bad apple” and that the company actually helped police nab him.
In FY 2011-12, city workers carried out about 1,100 graffiti removal work orders on city facilities and right-of-ways including roads, sidewalks and bridges but this year’s totals will eclipse that number, according to a staff report.
GPC offered to remove reported graffiti on city property throughout San Mateo within 48 hours of receiving the report and 24 hours in designated “hot spots” and for reported gang, hate crime and inflammatory graffiti.
GPC offered to also carry out proactive patrol to identify and remove unreported graffiti on city property.
In addition, GPC offered to provide a real-time web-based work order system for receiving, tracking and closing work orders that city staff can access in its proposal. The work orders were to include the location, date, response time, tag moniker and other information along with before and after photographs to assist with
GPC also offered its mobile application tool for residents and city employees to use their mobile device to report graffiti and submit photos.
Bronson said ultimately it is the council’s decision on how best to abate graffiti in San Mateo.
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