This is getting crazy. This is not how real cities make great things happen. City Clowncil is buggering up the restoring and repurposing of the old Monrovia train station. For some reason they’re essentially giving away the land and giving 1.5 million dollars for the restoration. They are.
It’s a plum contract that ought draw brilliant proposals from far and wide. Not in Monrovia. It was a done deal before we knew there were any proposals. Not only that, it went to a firm that donated large-by-Monrovia-standards amounts to the campaigns of both outgoing geoduck Mary Ann Lutz an incoming barnacle Tom Adams and already got the contract to build 261 apartments in the so-called transit village.
The favored firm’s stock-in-trade is this kind of dull…you’ve seen their work along Huntington in the stretch where there’s nothing to look at. This might not be theirs, but that’s the point. Who cares?
So how did the Clowncil think they were going to pull this off? First, they called it unique emergency that kept the city from coordinating a public bidding process. They somehow got some proposals, and chose, with specious justifications, the mayor’s fulsome fans and campaign donors. There were THREE factors that made it so very urgent. I’m always suspicious when more than one reason is given. The three factors:
They’re about to take the money back!
“The Gold Line wants to complete their work in 2015 and our funding must be expended as soon as possible prior to the dissolution of the Gold Line Construction Authority. Any funding that is not expended by that time will have to be returned to Metro.”
The Gold Line wanted to complete their work in 2009, as I recall. The grand launch is March 5 which is 3 months away, and was the distant future when these three firms were approached to put in bids. The construction authority doesn’t appear to be dissolving, either. They might have to close the books on the Pasadena to Asuza project, but they are going to build the next two segments of the Foothill Gold Line from Pasadena to Azusa and Glendora to Montclair.
It might rain!
“given the current dilapidated state of the Depot and the impending El Niño storm season, it has become increasingly urgent that repair and rehabilitation efforts be initiated immediately to protect the building before significant rain events begin occurring with regularity”
[On November 9, 2015 LA Weekly predicted that predicting a lot of rain would prove to have been silly, and on March 18th, retroactively declared themselves prescient. “At this rate we won’t even make normal.”]
A tile roof was installed 12 years ago, and when has urgency mattered in Monrovia? This is a sea change. We must form a study group and a citizen’s committee and hold workshops and adopt ordinances. The only thing less familiar to us than urgency is significant rain events occurring with regularity. That’ll happen when pigs fly, and they know it (city council, not the pigs.)
[There’s no name for this one. It’s too stupid.]
“The nature of the specialized work required to rehabilitate the Depot, coupled with our time limitations, creates a situation where responsive bids from qualified firms are difficult to obtain.”
They’re even harder to obtain in secrecy and in a hurry, and the nature of work doesn’t create situations. People do.
Later on, in the color glossy part, it says
“Based on discussions with Gold Line staff, they would prefer to have the funds expended by the end of calendar year 2015.”
Something un-named sources, or possibly source, said about a preference for a general time-frame is far cry from a deadline. A deadline is more along the lines of “any unexpended funds as of December 31 must be returned to the agency. I noticed they didn’t say that.
And who is chosen but the developer so nicely nailed in an anonymous response to the current’s mayor’s ill-advised foray into the public discourse during his campaign? Yes, Samuelson and Fetter. (The link is repeated at the end of the post.)
Such a lovely aesthetic, the textured-stucco tilt-up. Come on! S&F erects office parks. Everything they do looks like one. Color blocks don’t make a building nice to be around. Asymmetry is trite. I’d love to see the faux fawning over the utterly deterring khrushchyovka that’s supposed to become a vibrant community of something other than silverfish. I’d pay to see the gold coins being pressed into a chubby pink paw out back afterwards. The glimpse we had of the approved train station confirmed its shared heritage with the residences; it too will look like a 3D rendering even after it’s built.
I called baloney on the urgency pretext and indeed, it went away. Awarding a $1.5M loan that doesn’t have to be re-paid, and the use of the prime land for $2500 a year, sounded pretty silly in the light of day. Close call, Clowncil. We knew you could do better than that.
[Update: They didn’t do better that. Totalitarian chic it is. That’s cool. Clowncil, please know that in exchange, we expect the trains to run on time.]
[Update 2: Would you believe me if I said that another unexpended funds crisis inevitably caused the city council to award another $400,000 to $600,000 to Samuelson & Fetter, rather than put a project out to bid?]