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Cost overruns on homeless shelter raise eyebrows

By rgordon
Wednesday, May 2nd, 2007 at 1:01 pm in Uncategorized.

The bill for remodeling the Safe Harbor Shelter keeps inching higher, and it finally raised an eyebrow Tuesday, halting a county handover of another $119,000 to the contractor until a better explanation can be had. This latest overrun would have stretched the total payout to Concord-based RGM and Associates to more than $1.6 million.

The explanation given by the county’s Department of Housing was that a number of “unknowns” have arisen in the final stage of the project that RGM couldn’t have anticipated at the time they bid for the job. Some of the remodeling, which began last year, has been completed. (As demonstrated by the new television and dining room in this photo).
Safe Harbor Shelter

RGM was also the contractor who originally built the South San Francisco shelter for the homeless in 2000. The 90-bed shelter serves about 450 people a year.

“In this case I would say that there shouldn’t be – and there should not have been – unknowns, because this is a contract that was given to the builder,” said San Mateo County Supervisor Jerry Hill. “When they would go into the wall or go into the floor, they would know what was under that floor and that wall.”

“Underfloor work, over $10,000 – what would that be?” Hill continued. “Floor joists and footings for $9,000, additional light sconces, additional painting with duct work, soffit in the lounge area, additional light sconces, metal roof curbs, fire sprinkler modifications – why would there be modifications if the plans were developed appropriately?”

Among the list is a request of nearly $26,000 for an additional full time super and additional project manager.

“Why (would they) need additional management on the job if they bid the job appropriately the first time?” Hill asked.

In total, there were 41 change orders to the contract.

“These are for aesthetic and functional and safety upgrades that were basically design changes later on, largely not anticipatable by the architect,” Duane Bay, the county’s director of the Department of Housing explained.

For example, he said, a mezzanine level was built to house administrative offices and counseling space with a three-foot high rail that Bay said “was compliant, made sense, seemed like it would be functional.”

That is, until someone realized after it had been installed that clients might sit on the rail while waiting for a counseling appointment, rendering the whole getup unsafe. A decision was made, Bay said, to install an 18-inch Plexiglass rim on top of it.

The rim fell under a request for nearly $8,500 in “miscellaneous finish work.”

This is not the first time that the shelter project cost has inflated. The original contract, approved in May 2006, was for more than $1.37 million, funded almost entirely by the state’s department of Housing and Community Development. In November, more than $151,000 was added to the contract payout for “initial delays, not the fault of the contractor, as well as some necessary additions to the work,” according to a memo. That money was paid by South San Francisco.

The need for a remodel first became apparent in 2003 when Samaritan House, which operates the shelter, wanted changes to better accommodate its programs. The San Mateo County Commission on Disabilities also came up with a list of 19 recommendations to bring the shelter up to compliance with accessibility requirements. In 2005, South San Francisco added additional code requirements, including a fire-rated stair enclosure.

The shelter was constructed out of an old SamTrans facility for $2.1 million just six years ago.

Now, demanding a better explanation of why taxpayers are being asked to spend even more money on the facility, a detailed report to the supervisors is expected on May 15.

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2 Responses to “Cost overruns on homeless shelter raise eyebrows”

  1. atwitsend Says:

    maybe they should all adopt the rules for entry that Maple Street has… which for one is passing a background check. Yes they will pry into the homeless candidates background looking for various things that would disqualify them from staying at shelter with no regard for attitude and status of past stays at shelter. Must be nice to receive monies and grants from anyone willing to donate yet pick and choose who is worthy to come into thier shelter. Typical of the way San Mateo Co. has treated those that have crossed the lines of lawfulness in thier county. Anyone with a bit of experience knows that without funds to hire an attorney in San Mateo Co. you are subject to be represented by a Public Defender who will in most cases do the least they can get away with and are very experienced in how to avoid documentation to thier ineptness. Well apparently because of my past I will have to relocate or spend the winter on the streets of Redwood City in the blistering cold. With no regard to my advanced age and change of attitude and lifestyle in order to conform to a rightful way of living. Maple Street enjoy your donations and grants from the wealthiest people and businesses on the planet and if your concience should start to bother you just have another cup of holiday cheer and a turkey sandwich. I find that a perfect combination when guilt tries to infect my heart. Merry Christmas all…

  2. atwitsend Says:

    come to think of it maybe thier background checks are somewhat illegal or tainted byb the fact one of the shelter directors is an ex-policeman from san mateo county… after all i passed a background check for employment where i regularly handled thousands of dollars on a daily basis. this being said while ignoring the fact that my debt to society has surely been paid regardless. im sorry about the errors in my posts i just dont have the time to edit at this point in my life.

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