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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, October 3, 2002

Council considers no-bid lease measures

By Treena Shapiro
Advertiser Staff Writer

The City Council is considering two bills that would allow the city administration to award long-term leases without an open bidding process in cases where it would be more advantageous to go with the most qualified candidate rather than the highest bidder.

The law requires that leases be awarded only to the highest bidder, except under special circumstances. As a result, the city will not be able to award a long-term lease to the most qualified operator of Waimea Falls Park, said deputy corporation counsel Greg Swartz.

Ray Greene, of Waimea Management LLC, which is managing the park on a month-to-month basis, said the company will have a difficult time raising money it needs to operate the park without a long-term lease.

Bill 50 would allow the administration to award a lease based on a comparative evaluation of proposals, which would include quality and contractual factors, instead of just the highest financial returns. The city also would have the flexibility to discuss the proposals with those bidding and allow them time to revise their bids.

However, because the bill applies to all leases, some members of the Budget Committee expressed concerns about the measure yesterday.

"We're worried about Bill 50 because it's kind of broad," said chairwoman Ann Kobayashi.

She has introduced Bill 79 which would allow a closed bid process only in cases where a city also has awarded a service contract. However, that wouldn't help the situation in Waimea, where no service contract has been awarded, Swartz said.

Chris Diebling, acting director of the city Department of Budget and Fiscal Services, said while Bill 50 does give the city flexibility in awarding leases, any lease over five years would require council approval.

Swartz said the measure would give more flexibility in awarding leases for other uses, such as a museum in Chinatown or aquatic centers.

Committee member Duke Bainum said he understood the urgency in getting the bill passed before the Waimea condemnation auction in February 2003. But he said he wasn't that interested in widening the measure to cover projects other than Waimea Falls Park.