Construction overcharges continued to be the theme at the Peralta Community College District Trustee meeting Tuesday night, with trustees sparring with Chancellor Elihu Harris and staff over the Vista College construction project.
On a voice vote, trustees directed Harris to go back and conduct “hard bargaining” with Vista architects Ratcliff Architects to pick up $31,724 in costs which Peralta General Services Director Sadiq Ikharo said were the result of errors in Ratcliff’s original plans.
The changes were necessary to modify portions of the college’s fourth-floor roof deck to fit into a depression that was not shown on Ratcliff’s drawings.
Change orders in the Berkeley college construction project have been a continuing source of concern by trustees, with the board modifying district policy earlier this year to give them increased oversight.
While saying that the amount in question was “only $31,000 in a multi-million dollar project,” Trustee Nicky Gonzalez Yuen said, “I’m willing to accept the cost of change orders that are our responsibility, but I’m not in support of paying for change orders that are not our fault.”
But Harris questioned the cost-value of going after such a small amount, and said he did not believe that further talks with Ratcliff would be fruitful.
“I hate change orders more than anyone,” Harris said, “but change orders are a fact of life. Some of these errors are normal in construction, and we have to decide what is tolerable.”
Harris said that members of his staff had met with Ratcliff representatives two weeks ago, and the firm had indicated they were not going to pay the overages.
“If you want me to go back and renegotiate, I need more direction,” Harris said. “I don’t want to just go back and say ‘pretty please.’ This is not negotiation. It’s not very likely they’re going to pay for it. If they say no, what do you want me to do?”
Board members voted to direct Harris back to negotiations without further instructions.›