Rancho Palos Verdes City Council
   

TO:

TO: HONORABLE MAYOR AND COUNCILMEMBERS

FROM: CITY MANAGER

DATE: DECEMBER 17, 2002

SUBJECT: POLICY FOR SELECTING PEER REVIEW CONSULTANTS

RECOMMENDATION:

Consider whether or not to direct staff to prepare a formal policy for the Selection of Peer Review Consultants.

BACKGROUND:

In 2001, the City Council undertook a review of the existing geologic data for the Abalone cove Landslide and Zone 2. Specifically, at their April 17, 2001 meeting the City Council took the following action:

  1. Approved a Professional Services Agreement with Cotton, Shires and Associates to review existing geologic and geotechnical documents to determine whether the data are sufficient to allow building on vacant lots in Zone II if the local factor of safely calculated for the lot is 1.5 or greater; (2) Authorized the expenditure of up to $30,000 for the Cotton, Shires contract from Building and Safety Account 402.35 Technical and Professional Services; and (3) Formed a Peer Review Committee consisting of three independent geologists to review and comment on the findings of Cotton, Shires & Associates.

The "Peer Review Committee" consisted of geologists who had both past and present relationships with the lot owners. Mr. John Monks' geologist, Keith Ehlert, was included. An excerpt from the April 17, 2001 minutes states:

Council discussion centered on the importance of selecting disinterested geologists to be assured of obtaining objective results. It was argued that Keith Ehlert might not be completely objective since he performed work for Zone 2 lot owners who wished to develop their land; however, it was also felt that his familiarity with the area would be a benefit.

DISCUSSION:

Mayor Stern has requested that the City Council adopt a formal policy establishing criteria for future appointments of "Peer Review " panels. Should the City Council direct staff to prepare a policy for their consideration, staff would recommend that the policy apply the Cityís existing Conflict of Interest Code to the pre-selection process. The code currently applies to City Council appointed Commissioners and Committee members as well as consultants who provide services to the City. The criteria to be considered include:

  • Reportable Interests in Real Property. A conflict of interest will result from having a direct or indirect interest worth more than $1,000 in real property affected by the consultantís work product or real property that is located within 500 feet of the property that is the subject of the consultantís work product.
  • Reportable Income. A conflict of interest will result from receiving income, other than loans from a commercial lending institution, aggregating $250 or more in value within two years of the consultantís performance of peer review services for the City from (or promised by) an owner of real property that is the subject of the consultantís work product or from an owner of real property that is located within 500 feet of the property that is the subject of the consultantís work product.
  • Reportable Investments. A conflict of interest will result from any investments of more than $1,000 in a business entity that may be affected by the consultantís work product.
  • Reportable Business Positions. A conflict of interest will result from any position as a director, officer, partner, trustee, employee or manager in a business entity that may be materially affected by the consultantís work product.

The selection process would include a review of each candidate consultantís "reportable interests" in each of the four categories listed above and a statement of whether or not a conflict of interest might exist.

Of course, the City Council could adopt regulations that are even more stringent than the requirements listed above. For example, a regulation could be adopted that would preclude an individual from serving on a peer review panel if that person has done any work in the City for private individuals. However, given the number of geologic issues that are encountered in the City, this type of standard may be so high that it would be extremely difficult to find consultants who would be willing or able to serve on a peer review panel.

Respectfully submitted:
Les Evans
City Manager