We’ve all heard the campaigns from chambers of commerce across America: “Shop locally.”
The city of San Juan Capistrano can’t always do that anymore.
For years, the city has had a policy in place to give local bidders on city contracts a preference. It was officially called the “price advantage,” giving local contractors a leg up, even if their bids were as much as 3 percent more than the lowest responsible bid, said Cindy Russell, the city’s finance director.
But even though this policy has been in place for years, the law says cities can’t give such preference unless they can make a finding that for some reasons, businesses can’t be as competitive in their region, she said.
San Juan Capistrano officials can’t come to that conclusion, so the policy has to go, she told the City Council at its Tuesday meeting.
“I wish we could continue that,” Russell told Patch after the meeting. “We encourage all departments to shop local. It’s easier to shop local because they know us.”
The council changed the policy to encourage “staff to obtain bids from local, qualified vendors whenever possible.”
Mark Bodenhamer, chief executive officer for the San Juan Capistrano Chamber of Commerce, said he understood that the law required a change in procedure.
“This is about good governance, proper use of taxpayer money and avoiding potential legal action,” he said. “While I personally wish otherwise, it was the right action for the city to take.”