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Design standards now in memos, RFPs for review

By Grace Lovins


All city projects under consideration will now require staff to consider design standards and be included in memorandums with commission packets, and Birmingham's current review process for requests for proposals (RFPs) will be reviewed and reassessed after the city commission determined they were both necessary at their meeting on Monday, June 3.


The issue of adding design considerations to the memorandums included in the commission’s meeting packets was brought up by commissioner Clinton Baller during the Monday, May 20, meeting. He recommended the board have a discussion on adding the section, similar to how there are current sections for legal review and fiscal impact.


“I believe that there are many agenda items that come up as illustrated tonight where we are not sufficiently respectful of the design process,” Baller said. He explained that the new section would force city staff to think about the design standards of a project before it comes to the commission for review.


Commissioners voted unanimously, 7-0, to approve Baller’s proposal of adding the section to the agendas before moving on to a discussion about the city’s current RFP review process.


Baller also initiated the discussion on the RFP review process, explaining to the board that being unfamiliar with the best practices regarding RFPs, the commission should be given some research or a presentation on what the best practices are.


“I suggest that whoever is responsible for writing the RFPs come back and tell us what their process is and discuss some options for improvement of the process so we avoid some of the issues we’ve seen lately,” Baller said.


The commission has raised several concerns relating to the RFP review process over the last few meetings where respondents to the RFPs were brought before the commission. Commissioners Therese Longe and Anthony Long both stated they agreed with Baller’s points and think the commission is sometimes “hamstrung” by an RFP that is released and bid on.


“I think we can get better results if we have a diversity of opinions and perspectives on the RFP going in,” Longe said.


Commissioners voted unanimously, 7-0, to move the discussion to a formal agenda item.

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