CITY HALL — The Santa Monica City Council stuck to its guns on Tuesday and upheld its boycott of Arizona companies, unanimously rejecting a recommendation by staff to purchase $3 million worth of “manufactured homes” from a company located in that state.
Before the vote, Housing & Economic Development Director Andy Agle urged the council to make an exception to its boycott and accept the bid from Arizona-based Cavco Industries, saying the company’s proposal could save City Hall $2 million compared with the best bid from a non-Arizona company.
But the council, which in May unanimously voted to boycott Arizona to protest that state’s tough new immigration law, was united in rejecting that advice.
Arizona’s law, known as SB 1070, made it a state crime to lack immigration documents and directed police officers to check papers when they suspect someone they’ve stopped on suspicion of committing a non-immigration related offense may be in the country illegally. The law was largely struck down by a federal judge before taking effect in July and is expected to reach the U.S. Supreme Court on appeal.
At issue on Tuesday was a proposed contract for 20 pre-fabricated homes that would replace older trailers at the City Hall-owned Mountain View Mobile Home Park. The process that culminated with the recommendation to select Cavco Industries to provide the homes had been in the works for a year and a half, a report on the proposal submitted to the council stated.
On Tuesday, Councilman Kevin McKeown called the proposed contract with Cavco an “end run” around the boycott that would “undercut any message we were trying to send.”
“I don’t think we were trying to merely politically posture” when we adopted the boycott, he said. “I think we really did mean to send a serious message to the state of Arizona.”
Councilwoman Gleam Davis added: “When we decided to enact the Arizona boycott it wasn’t just about putting pressure on Arizona, it was about making a stand. And stands don’t mean very much if the second they become inconvenient you abandon them.”
Rather than asking staff to seek additional bids for the manufactured home contract — a process that can take months under standard “request for proposal” procedures — the council took the unusual step of directing staff to negotiate a contract for the manufactured homes on the open market.
The move means Agle will be charged with finding a non-Arizona company that can provide the homes under terms favorable enough to win the City Council’s approval at a future meeting.
The open-market strategy, council members agreed, would be faster than sending out a new request for bids. Time is an issue with the deal, Agle said, because the housing department is using a federal grant that expires in April to fund most of the cost of the purchase.
All six members of the council who were present for the vote on Tuesday backed the plan, though Councilman Richard Bloom said he was concerned that rejecting the bid from Cavco Industries might mean foregoing the best option for Mountain View residents.
“The fact of the matter is we’re not buying pencils and erasers here. These are products that are intended to benefit the lives of Santa Monica residents and they are homes that people will live in and we should be seeking the absolute best for our residents,” he said, adding that he could have supported an exception to the Arizona boycott in this instance.
Mayor Bobby Shriver did not attend Tuesday’s meeting.