OAKLAND (BCN) -- The Oakland City Council told the city's Department of Transportation on Tuesday night to reject all bids on millions of dollars of street paving work since none met the city's small/very small local business enterprise requirement that Black contractors say helps deliver a fair share of work to them.
The DOT sought a waiver from the City Council on that requirement, inflaming the Black community.
Black contractors have been adamant about getting their fair share of city contracting dollars in Oakland. This was another inequity to them.
"We just want to be part of the contracts," said Stanley Cooper, chair of the labor and industry committee of the Oakland chapter of the NAACP and owner of Cooper Construction and Engineering in Oakland.
Cooper's business is a certified very small enterprise in Oakland. His company could be a subcontractor on the work if the small/very small local business enterprise requirements are upheld.
At least $32 million and possibly as much as $60 million was up for grabs in the paving contracts that the City Council considered.
Councilmembers voted 8-0 and told the Department of Transportation to negotiate with the current bidders so that they meet the small/very small local business enterprise requirement.
If the work went out to bid again, it would delay completion by several months, City Attorney Doryanna Moreno said.
Oakland is completing a three-year paving plan and is getting ready to embark on a five-year paving plan, DOT director Ryan Russo told councilmembers.
Cooper said the DOT has sought waivers repeatedly. At a news conference Tuesday, before the City Council vote, Councilmember Treva Reid said billions of dollars citywide have bypassed minority contractors.
"It needs to stop today," Reid said.
Sean Maher, a spokesman for the Department of Transportation said, "OakDOT staff have worked hard to propose solutions that will comply with city policies and continue providing the paving services Oaklanders need.
"OakDOT shares the priorities voiced by our Councilmembers and our contracting community," Maher said. "Unfortunately, in the recent call for bids the department received no bids that fully met the SLBE percentage requirement."
Bids cannot be altered or negotiated after they're submitted, he said. They are ranked based on cost and local business enterprise goals, Maher said.
"OakDOT advanced these bids to the City Council because it has been directed to keep Oakland's equity-driven paving program on schedule and within budget," he said.
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