San Jose Votes No on BayWEB Funding, Motorola Solutions Agreement (12/14/11)
Wednesday, December 14, 2011 | Comments

The San Jose, Calif., city council unanimously approved staff recommendations to vote no on the build own operate maintain (BOOM) agreement between the BayRICS Joint Powers Authority (JPA) and Motorola Solutions. The council also agreed to submit comments to the JPA that say the city can't support the systems funding plan, as initially drafted and revised, for the BayWEB regional public-safety broadband project.

“The fact is BayWEB has significant unanswered questions,” said a letter from San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed and City Manager Debra Figone to the BayRICS JPA. “And, as the draft [systems funding] plan says in too many places, attempting to answer those questions would be guesswork.”

How the San Jose decisions affect the overall project is yet to be determined. Michelle McGurk, San Jose’s BayRICS JPS board representative, said each jurisdiction’s comments will be considered when the JPA takes up the plan Jan. 19. The various jurisdictions aren’t required to vote on the BOOM. “Some will choose to do so, as we did,” she said. “Our council took a policy position on the BOOM, providing direction to San Jose’s representative (me) on how to vote.”

There are 15 members of the board. Approval or rejection of the BOOM requires a simple majority vote.

“If a no vote prevailed at the board, the BayWEB project would not be built, and the $50 million in federal funding would be returned to the Treasury,” said a San Jose staff report. The report said it made the recommendation “given the significant compromises made in developing the BOOM agreement, the lack of guarantee that the funds invested will result in a system that meets public-safety needs throughout the 10 years of the contract, and the fiscal risks to the authority and its members.”

“Such a vote puts the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 funds at risk, but we can all cite projects where free money from federal or state sources have led to exponentially higher downstream costs,” the report said. “San Jose staff does not come to this recommendation lightly. Staff has invested thousands of hours in the negotiations and related work to create the BayRICS Authority. This time has been well spent in ensuring that if the project goes forward, it will be governed by an organization created to operate transparently.”

In addition, the council directed city staff to work with Motorola Solutions to use San Jose’s four sites for BayWEB. In addition, the council authorized Mayor Reed to sign and file, together with Oakland and San Francisco, an amended petition with the FCC for a waiver to use the 700 MHz public-safety spectrum. This is necessary because the FCC determined the original lease is not valid, said the staff report. The FCC advised the three cities that the most expeditious and prudent option is to file an amended waiver petition allowing the Public Safety Spectrum Trust (PSST), which holds the nationwide public-safety license, to enter into a new lease with the original petitioners — San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose.

“As our mayor said at the meeting yesterday, San Jose’s decision also recognizes our position within the larger region,” McGurk said. “So the council voted to continue working on making our sites available if the project moves forward and to move forward on the amended waiver petition.”

In 2010, Motorola signed a contract to build a $6 million pilot 700 MHz Long Term Evolution (LTE) public-safety system in the San Francisco Bay Area. The vendor later received a $50.6 million ARRA grant for the network but governance issues have plagued the project since the award.

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