I spoke today with Scott Chadwick, the chief operating officer of the city of San Diego, about the parking-meter contract the city abruptly canceled late last year.

He would not talk about the personnel matter that caused the breakdown. But he wanted to communicate that management acted to preserve the city’s integrity.

“The reason we put a halt to this is we received some information that made us want to re-evaluate that procurement. And based on the information we found, we felt it was most appropriate that we cancel the RFP,” Chadwick said.

City staff spent more than a year and hundreds of hours on a bidding process that would have led to the replacement of the city’s old parking meters with new ones that were solar powered, accepted credit cards and could be tracked and manipulated wirelessly. The new system would have allowed the city to spot dysfunctional devices and create an app for drivers to locate empty spots on the streets.

Other cities have seen major increases in revenue after similar switches. Drivers find it easier to pay and add enough time rather than just limit their payment to the number of coins they’re carrying. And meters that break are more rapidly put back online.

The San Diego based manufacturer, IPS Group, won the contract. IPS Group has overhauled parking meters in 161 cities including 35,000 devices in Los Angeles.

But city officials let IPS representatives know in November that they were aborting the effort.

Chadwick said all were disappointed but the city had to reset the contracting process because of the personnel matter officials had discovered.

“I can’t comment on what it is. But our expectation is that all of our processes are squeaky clean. Out of an abundance of caution, we took the action that we did,” Chadwick said.

He said that as the employee involved goes through appeal processes, the city will keep what happened confidential.

City leaders hope they can piggyback on the purchasing contract that Sacramento is finalizing right now with IPS Group to avoid another lengthy procurement process.

Scott Lewis

Scott Lewis oversees Voice of San Diego’s operations, website and daily functions as Editor in Chief. He also writes about local politics, where he frequently...

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