City Council Approves Construction Contract for Gateway Landscaping

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Posted by Collin Breaux | Twitter: @collin_breaux

The intersection of Ortega Highway and Del Obispo Street was to be upgraded in the coming months through a gateway landscaping project led by city officials.

During a meeting on Tuesday March 2, the San Juan Capistrano City Council approved the award of a construction contract to Brightview Landscape Development, Inc. for aesthetic improvements to the intersection that will enhance the landscaping and architecture at the Inn at the Mission San Juan Capistrano, the new, equivalent boutique hotel in the area. The intersection is considered to be an important entry point for the city center from I-5.

Specifically, landscaping would be done for the southwest corner of the city and a privately owned northeast corner at the intersection. The city owned lot is near the Camino Real Playhouse while the northeast corner is in vacant lot and is in Del Taco. Renovations include low stone walls, new facilities, and improvements to irrigation and drainage.

The intersection at Del Obispo Street and Ortega Highway is being expanded according to a plan issued by city officials. Photo: Collin Breaux

A median with olive trees is also expected to be built in the region as part of the project.

“The project was put out to tender on January 7th, 2021. The bids opened on February 4th. Four bids were received,” said Joel Rojas, director of development services, during a presentation to the council. “Three out of four were very consistent estimates within 10% of each other. The lowest bidder was Brightview Landscape Development, Inc. “

According to Rojas, the cost offers were higher than expected due to lighting system, labor and material costs.

The contract with Brightview is $ 687,634 and the total cost of the project is $ 830,634. Approximately 10% of the contingency and contract administration and support services total $ 143,000. Project funding available is $ 400,000, resulting in a deficit of $ 430,634.

“Fortunately, the recently completed Meredith Canyon sidewalk rehab project fell short of a budget of approximately $ 550,000,” said Rojas. “Staff recommend using any unspent savings from this project to fill the project shortage for the Gateway landscaping project.”

After Councilor Troy Bourne asked who would do the ongoing maintenance after the modernization was built, city officials said the inventory would be kept by the city maintenance company and that the construction contract had a one-year warranty.

Bourne said that given the “atypical maintenance,” certain matters may be re-examined and therefore the intersection will continue to look “special”. City Manager Ben Siegel agreed with these assessments.

“Ben, it would be possible for you to administratively increase maintenance in this area in the future, if the landscaping might not be able to keep up with the neighbors,” said Councilor Sergio Farias. “Is that possible, and is it also possible in other areas such as Verdugo Street, where we have made similar improvements? … I mean, you could do it instead of bringing it back to the council. I think the point my colleague is trying to make is that there are concerns about getting these projects approved and then they may not look like the renders. “

San Juan Capistrano officials want to improve the intersection between Ortega Highway and Del Obispo Street, similar to the renovation work on Verdugo Street shown here. Photo: Collin Breaux

Siegel said the extended maintenance can be reviewed and either administratively approved or submitted to the council for minor amendment if it exceeds its threshold.

Construction work is expected to begin in April and be completed in June. The council approved funding for the project in March 2020.

In other meeting news, the council also approved a financial report from the city for the second fiscal quarter for the 2020-21 fiscal year. The San Juan Capistrano General Fund is expected to end fiscal 2020-21 with reserves of $ 21.7 million, said finance director Ken Al-Imam.

“A major contributor to this result, and a great benefit for the city going forward, is the move the city council took last June to reduce the city’s recurring annual staff spending by $ 1 million,” said Al- Imam said.

A $ 254,000 increase in development-related revenues and lower litigation costs have also reportedly contributed to the reserve fund size, which has grown over the past three years.

“The current level of general fund reserves is an important and necessary hedge against the significant uncertainty associated with the COVID-19 timeline and associated economic impact,” Al-Imam said.

The city’s sales tax revenue was charged at $ 800,000 for fiscal 2019-20, although there is now a “faster recovery” than originally projected, he said.

“Most of this rapid return to near-normal sales tax revenues is centered in general consumer retail, auto sales and internet sales,” Al-Imam said.

Staff are currently working on the 2021-22 budget and plan to present the advice and recommendations for an updated general fund reserve policy to the council in June.

Although city budgets have typically been two years in the past, the 2020-21 and 2021-22 budgets are each for one year due to the uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus health crisis.

Collin Breaux

Collin Breaux reports on San Juan Capistrano and other South Orange County news as City Editor for The Capistrano Dispatch. Before moving to California, he covered Hurricane Michael, politics, and education in Panama City, Florida. He can be reached by email at [email protected]

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