San Francisco “Going out”


San Francisco “Going out”

The City of San Francisco is "going out" to bid for revenue control equipment for the 19 city owned garages located throughout the "city by the bay." Don’t get too excited yet, equipment vendors. It’ll be a while before there is anything definitive on the streets.

My spies in SF tell me that the city is first hiring a consulting firm to write the specs, and then they will put the bid on the street. This is a critical part of the process as just how the specs are written will determine how the equipment is selected and how it will work.

SF has a city ordinance which specifies the types of reports needed.  Its a rather strange ordinance as it allows the folks running the garages to certify that their garage meets the ordinance, without the city having to come in and check.  Are the foxes running the hen house in Baghdad by the bay?

Although virtually all the operators of the nineteen garages have certified they are on compliance, I have it on good authority (read that an equipment vendor) that over half of the garages don’t meet the requirements of the ordinance.

If this is how the city runs its current ordinance, how good a job will they do on specifying a set of equipment for the garages, a set of equipment that some say could cost between $15 and $20 million.

They are asking consultants to "bid" on the process of writing the spec and then supervising the installation and training. There are consulting firms out there that have the expertise to take on a job of this magnitude. Although the numbers may be smaller than most airports, the system could be more complex since it involves nineteen separate entities reporting back to possibly three or four different operators and also back to the city. It will most likely involve Pay on Foot, and a complex validation program, in addition to the normal daily and monthly parking operations, most of which are not seen in large airport systems.

I’ll keep my eye on this as it progresses.  SF has had many problems getting equipment and software in and running. It has just lost its head of parking and I understand is in a search to find a replacement.

Would it be better to hire the new parking guru for the city and have him or her shepherd the new system? It seems to me that it would. Bringing in someone in the middle of a procurement of such complexity and magnitude could set them up to fail even before they got their first paycheck.


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John Van Horn

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