San Clemente vendors could have a bigger advantage when competing for city contracts with the City Council set tonight to consider an ordinance that officials say will help stimulate the local economy and create more jobs. 

The council voted 4-0 during a meeting in April, with Councilmember Mark Enmeier absent, directing staff to develop an ordinance to encourage the city to select a local vendor for a job, even if their bid is higher than a vendor from outside the city by as much as 7%, with a maximum financial value of $150,000 for professional and other contracted services. Councilmembers earlier this year directed staff to study and bring back a proposal to give preference to local vendors.

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Currently, the city provides a 3% “local vendor preference” to local bidders for purchases of supplies, equipment, materials, and services. The proposed ordinance would increase that preference and now also include professional or contract services.

City officials spoke in favor of the proposed ordinance and said it is important to prioritize local businesses. One contractor endorsed the ordinance and even suggested including smaller contracts, such as fixing a hole in the roof. 

“I like the policy, I think it is good for our local business partners,” said Mayor Pro Tem Steve Knoblock. 

City Manager Andy Hall spoke in favor of prioritizing local vendors.

“In some respects, we want to make sure the residents here in San Clemente have first opportunities to serve their community,” said Hall. 

San Clemente is not the first city to have a local vendor preference. In 2012, Santa Ana added a preference of up to 7% for contracts between $5,000 and $100,000. 

In suggesting San Clemente up its vendor preference, Councilmember Gene James said during a council meeting in March that local businesses should get a break. 

“I think local vendors should have at least a 10% break on contracts, if they come within 10% of what I’ll call a foreign vendor, a vendor from outside of the city, that business should go to the local vendor,” James said then. 

San Clemente contractor George Gregory urged the council during its April meeting to move forward with increasing the local vendor preference and suggested applying the same strategy to smaller contracts. 

“I applaud this. I applaud this a lot,” said Gregory. 

He went on to explain to city officials the difficulties he faced with his equipment as a contractor. 

“Personally I cannot go on a Metrolink to go to work because I have a ladder and 1,000 pounds of tools and stuff”, said Gregory. “I much prefer to work local.”

If the City Council approves the ordinance, staff would have discretion on all bids from local contractors and only needs to apply the policy when it serves the city’s best interests. The proposed ordinance does not apply to contracts that involve state and federal grant funds. 
The council is expected to consider the ordinance amending the local vendor preference during tonight’s meeting at City Hall. People can attend the meeting in person or access it via live stream.

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