Rancho Palos Verdes City Council







Authorize the Mayor and City Clerk to execute the proposed agreement with Zeiser Kling Consultants, Inc. to provide geology and geotechnical engineering consulting services on an as-needed basis to the City for an additional two years.


Due to the complex soils and geology of the Palos Verdes Peninsula, the Department of Planning, Building and Code Enforcement contracts on an as-needed basis for the professional services of licensed geologists and soils engineers. Since 1997, the firm of Zeiser Kling Consultants, Inc (Zeiser Kling) has served as the City’s primary geotechnical consultant for reviewing private development proposals and certain City projects. The original contract with Zeiser Kling was approved by the City Council on October 7, 1997. Contract extensions were approved by the City Council in 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003 and 2004. The current contract is set to expire on February 17, 2006. Therefore, this agenda item is to consider renewing the Zeiser Kling contract for an additional two years.


Basis for the Original Selection of Zeiser Kling

In 1997, Staff prepared and distributed a Request for Proposals (RFP), which was provided to twenty-eight geotechnical consulting firms. The City reviewed the eleven responses to the RFP, and after interviewing the top six candidates, selected two firms: Bing Yen and Associates (BYA), and Zeiser Kling. BYA was chosen to work on select development projects, like the Point View moratorium exclusion proposal and the Oceanfront Estates project, while Zeiser Kling was selected to perform the day-to-day project review.

As part of the City’s 1997 selection process, Zeiser Kling, along with the other candidates, was subjected to an extensive review process by a City review team composed of then Mayor John McTaggart, then Councilman Lee Byrd, then Public Works Director Les Evans and then Director of Planning, Building and Code Enforcement Carolynn Petru. Zeiser Kling was determined by the review team to be highly qualified, with extensive experience and professional credentials, and familiarity with the unique geologic conditions found on the Palos Verdes Peninsula.

Scope of Work

As the City’s primary geotechnical consultant, Zeiser Kling provides a variety of specialized services. These include reviewing geology reports for development projects that range from additions to single family residences to major projects, such as new subdivisions and large non-residential projects; conducting field inspections of proposed construction, as requested by the City’s Building Official; and providing advice to the City on drainage issues, illegal grading activities or any other geological issues that may arise like the recent movement in the Klondike Canyon area.

Specifically, Zeiser Kling is responsible for the geotechnical review of all of the development projects that are approved by the Department. This primarily includes conducting site visits to determine if geotechnical or soils reports will be required, reviewing and commenting on submitted geotechnical and soils reports, and meeting with planners, building inspectors and the public to answer a variety of questions dealing with submitted reports. These services are paid for by project applicants through set geologic review fees (the fee schedule is attached). In addition, when requested to do so, the Zeiser Kling geologists assist Staff in processing view restoration cases (tree removal on slopes), assessing the severity of code enforcement cases (illegal grading), attend meetings and conduct any other as-needed investigations on behalf of the city. These additional services are generally not a part of a fixed fee process but are paid for from the Department budget or from Trust Deposit accounts established by private individuals.

No change to Zeiser Kling’s scope of work is being proposed by Zeiser Kling or is being requested by Staff at this time.

Proposed Extension of Contract

At this time, Zeiser Kling is requesting that their contract with the City be renewed for an additional two years. Furthermore, Zeiser Kling intends to retain the same key personnel and proposes no fee increases for the new 2-year contract period. Given the level of service provided to the Department thus far and the expectation that it will continue, Staff is recommending that the Zeiser Kling contract be renewed for two (2) years for the following reasons:

1) Zeiser Kling has provided competent and responsive service to the City and its residents over the last nine years.

2) Zeiser Kling geologists have built a strong knowledge of the unique geologic conditions found on the Palos Verdes Peninsula, which would be difficult to match or surpass by a new firm. This body of knowledge will be retained, as Zeiser Kling proposes no changes to its key personnel serving the City.

3) When requested to do so by Staff, Zeiser Kling established a fixed fee system for geologic review in 2000 and has continued to ensure that the system is fairly implemented. The four categories of fees (see attached fee schedule) established in 2000 have made it much easier for applicants since they know what the review fees will be up-front. In addition, the set fees have eliminated the need for City Staff to track overruns on trust deposit accounts or the need to collect additional funds from applicants. Furthermore, with no proposed fees increases to the contact, the review fees will not need to be increased during the next two years.

4) When requested to do so by Staff, Zeiser Kling created guidelines in 2002 to assist the public in determining what types of projects would require soils/geology reports. This information, which is provided to potential applicants in a hand-out (attached), allows applicants to begin the preparation of geology reports early in the process and also helps avoid the preparation of unnecessary reports.

5) Although it’s been almost nine years since an RFP has been prepared for geotechnical services, Staff does not believe it would be cost effective to prepare an RFP at this time due to Zeiser Kling’s performance, lack of fee increase and experience with the City’s review process. This is because there would be a cost to prepare the RFP and evaluate candidates and at least from the Staff’s perspective, there’s no compelling reason to seek out other firms at this time.


Zeiser Kling is a highly qualified firm, with extensive experience and professional credentials, and is familiar with the unique geologic conditions found on the Palos Verdes Peninsula. This experience has been enhanced through the work completed on behalf of the City over the last nine years. The review services provided have met Staff's needs and expectations. As such, Staff supports continuing the contract with this firm for an additional two years in accordance with the attached Services Agreement.


As noted in the Background section of this Report, Zeiser Kling was one of two geotechnical firms originally retained by the City in 1997. The other firm retained in 1997 was Bing Yen and Associates (BYA). In 2001, the City Council agreed to re-evaluate the BYA contract after their work was complete on the Point View project, since that was the only project that they were reviewing on behalf of the City. Shortly thereafter BYA was purchased by ATC and continued as the City’s reviewing geotechnical firm on the Point View project. Although it was envisioned that ATC’s involvement with the Point View project would be completed in 2002, the Point View project is still being processed and it is foreseen that ATC will continue to be involved with the project in some capacity. Therefore, unless otherwise directed by the Council, staff intends to take no action on the ATC contract that is currently in effect, and re-evaluate the need for a second geotechnical consultant after their work with the Point View project is finished.


Renewal of the contract would not result in any additional fiscal impacts, as the City’s approved FY 05-06 and FY 06-07 budgets include $228,100 per fiscal year for geotechnical consulting services for the review of privately initiated project geotechnical reports. This amount if based on a projection of development activity for the fiscal year period and is expected to be approximately equal to the amount of revenue collected from the geologic review fees. As an example of this, in FY 04-05, $219,248 was expended for geologic consulting services and $206,820 was collected in revenue from the geologic review fees. Thus far in FY 05-06, revenue ($109,140) is slightly higher than expenditures ($107,285) but still very close. In addition, the FY 05-06 budget contains $10,000 for other, as needed, geotechnical consulting services. The consultants' compensation depends on the demand for consulting services and the nature of the investigations or review.


In addition to Staff's recommendation, the following alternatives are available for consideration by the City Council:

1) Authorize the Mayor and City Clerk to execute a contract for only one year.

2) Direct Staff to make additional modifications to the proposed contract and bring the revised contract back for further discussion at a future meeting.

3) Direct Staff to issue a new Request for Proposal (RFP).



Respectfully submitted:

Joel Rojas
Director of Planning, Building and
Code Enforcement

Reviewed by:

Les Evans
City Manager


Draft 2006-08 Contract with Zeiser Kling Consultants, Inc.
Geologic Review Fee Schedule
Handout – Projects requiring soils/geology reports