The San Mateo City Council will hold a special meeting Tuesday to interview three consulting firms, one of which will be tapped to conduct a management audit of the Community Development Department following a series of “hiccups” as some on the council have described it.
Deputy Mayor Robert Ross, however, is looking to broaden the scope of the audit to take a closer look at all of the city’s departments and their policies and procedures to help limit the city’s future liability.
The council decided last month to conduct the audit although all are not in support of doing it now, such as Councilman Jack Matthews.
“It is not a process I endorsed but I will take part in it,” Matthews said.
The department may have had some “hiccups” such as the controversial 7-Eleven on San Mateo Drive the council ultimately ruled was permitted to operate in error but, for the most part, Matthews said, the CDD’s work has been excellent.
He also does not like the word “audit.”
“It is not a good word. We need to look at what the best practices are and what a consultant would recommend to make any improvements,” Matthews told the Daily Journal.
Ross, however, wants a process that will keep the public fully informed on how the city conducts its business.
An audit would help the city correct its past mistakes so that they do not happen again, he said.
“There has to be accountability,” Ross told the Daily Journal.
Regarding 7-Eleven, Ross said the City Attorney’s Office provided conflicting advice to the applicant and that it should have never happened.
“There should have been a file that the planners could have looked at to see what the prior determinations were for the property’s use,” he said. “Everybody should have been in the loop. No conflicting advice should have been given.”
In the public hearing last month, both Planning Commissioner Rick Bonilla and Public Works Commissioner Anna Kuhre urged the council to move forward with the audit as did Christine Stiles, who has been a vocal opponent of the city’s approval of the 7-Eleven.
Currently, the city is in a legal battle with 7-Eleven and property owner Portfolio Development Partners that is set to go before a judge soon. If the store is forced to close, 7-Eleven and PDP contend they will be out $8 million.
The proposed cost to conduct the audit ranges from $40,000 to $120,000, according to a staff report.
The meeting is 5:30 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 20, City Hall, 330 W. 20th Ave., San Mateo.
(650) 344-5200 ext. 106