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How to Register as a Vendor
How Does the Bid Process Work? 
Does the City Buy What I Sell? 
Who Can Answer My Questions? 
Do I Need Insurance?
How are Emergency Purchases Handled?
What are the City's Living Wage Requirements?
View all Open Bids

We appreciate your interest in selling to the City of Santa Cruz and hope this brief guide will be beneficial. Our aim is to help your sales effort and to promote good business relationships with us. This outlines our purchasing policies and procedures. Whenever you need more information, please ask. We can be reached at 809 Center St, Rm 101, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, Phone: 831-420-5080, Fax: 831-420-5312, email.

Our Mission
The objective of the Purchasing Division is to conduct all purchasing in accordance with the City of Santa Cruz Charter, which reads as follows:

SECTION 1414. COMPETITIVE BIDDING. Before making purchases of, or contracts for, supplies, materials, or equipment, ample opportunity shall be given for competitive bidding, under such rules and regulations and with such exceptions as the Council may prescribe in the ordinance setting up such rules and regulations.

Essentially, we seek to obtain the necessary quantity and quality of products or services required at the lowest price.

Does the City Buy What I Sell?
Maybe. The City purchases more than $37 million worth of products and services each year, ranging from street lights to asphalt to uniform rental. We are continuously looking for good suppliers to supply those items.

How Can I Get My Foot In the Door?
Contact the Purchasing Division at 831-420-5080 or complete a Bid List Application. Once your completed application has been received, your company will be placed on the bidder’s mailing list under the appropriate categories. You will be mailed Invitation for Bids or Requests For Proposals when they are issued for commodities you offer.

How Is Public Purchasing Different From Private Purchasing?
The public procurement process, and the people involved, are subject to complete public accountability, regarding the proper expenditure of taxpayers’ money. Public purchasing must guarantee fair and open competition with equal opportunities for every supplier. A unique characteristic of public purchasing is the underlying principle that prices are not as critical as fairness and impartiality in obtaining them.

Are All Purchases Made by the Purchasing Division?
No, we have a decentralized purchasing function. Some commodities are bought by purchasing staff, some by the other divisions. We can direct you to the appropriate person for your commodity.

Does the Purchasing Division assist City staff in finding qualified vendors?
Yes. The Purchasing Division maintains a list of suggested vendors for City staff to use when looking for specific products and services. Prequalified vendors will be asked to provide specific quotes when products or services are needed. Prequalified vendor lists are limited to the following commodities:

  • Blueprint Supply
  • Building Maintenance (Hardware) Supply
  • Car Rentals
  • Electrical Services
  • Electrical Supply
  • Janitorial Chemicals
  • Janitorial Paper Products
  • Paint
  • Plumbing Services
  • Printer Maintenance
  • Printing Services
  • Safety Products
  • Shipping Services

The purpose of maintaining a prequalified vendor list is to assist City staff in locating “ready-to-use” vendors. Please call the Purchasing Division at 831-420-5080 if your business supplies one of the above commodities and would like a Prequalified Vendor Application.

How Does the Bid Process Work?
Purchases over $10,000 and less than $99,999 are awarded based on an informal competitive bid process. Generally, we request bids from at least three suppliers. The bid is awarded to the lowest responsive, responsible supplier: the bidder who meets the specifications, terms and conditions stated, and offers the lowest price. The only time we do not award to the lowest price is when a bid does not meet our specifications or the bidder is not responsible. Informal bids may be verbal or written. Anyone can see the bid results after the bid has been awarded.

Purchases over $100,000 follow a formal procedure. These Invitation for Bids (IFB) and Requests for Proposals (RFP) will be mailed to each supplier on the Bid List for that particular commodity or service. The bids are opened publicly at a specified time and place and City Council approves the bid award at a public meeting. View our checklist for submitting a successful bid.

May I Bid If I Don’t Carry the Brand Listed On the RFB?
Yes, if the IFB specifies a brand name or equal, you may offer an alternative or equal brand. It is a good idea to discuss your alternative proposal with us before submitting it. Equal products will be evaluated after bids are received.

What Should I Do If I’m Confused?
You may find our procedures, or requests for bids and proposals, confusing. Give us a call; we will gladly answer any questions on specifications, bid or award procedures, and purchasing methods in general.

Do Good Service and Quality Products Matter or Are Decisions Made Solely on the Basis of Price?
Our mandate is to obtain the best value for every purchase. We attempt to develop specifications which clearly define the quality required.

Awarding to the lowest responsive, responsible bidder limits our ability to develop business relationships with suppliers. Because of this, we maintain an arms length association with suppliers. This is one of the many ways we try to minimize corruption in public procurement. Our goal is to treat all suppliers the same.

You may expend considerable time and money in presenting your product to an individual department in the hopes of making a sale. If you do this, remember the purchase may eventually be made by competitive bid and be awarded to the lowest responsive, responsible bidder.

When Does the City Require Insurance Coverage?
When your personnel enter City property to repair, install, service, construct, or perform similar work, General Liability, Auto Liability, and Workers’ Compensation insurance are generally required. If your firm provides professional services, such as architectural or engineering, professional errors and omissions insurance is generally required. We must have proof of insurance meeting our criteria before you start work. Contact us for further information regarding this condition.

Are Bid and/or Performance Bonds Required?
Bid and performance bonds are required when it is necessary to protect the interests of the City. All contracts for Capital Improvement projects require bid and performance bonds. Most RFB’s and RFP’s issued by the Purchasing Division do not required bonding.

What Are the City’s Delivery Requirements?
Deliveries are required to be made to us F.O.B. Santa Cruz, freight prepaid. Failure to meet specified delivery dates may cause cancellation of the order, liquidated damages, and removal from bid list.

Never ship materials or initiate any services, on orders exceeding $2,500 without a purchase order number! View our Purchase Order Terms and Conditions.

When Are Change Orders Allowed?
A purchase order is our contract with you. Any change to that contract must be in writing.

Does the City Buy Recycled Products?
Yes, we prefer to use products with recycled content and/or products that are recyclable, if fitness, quality, purpose, and price are equal.

Does the City Require Suppliers to Pay Prevailing Wage?
It depends on the source of funding. If a project is funded with Federal money, prevailing wage will be required. If it is funded entirely by City of Santa Cruz money, prevailing wage will not be required.

Does the City Require Suppliers to Pay the Living Wage?
The Living Wage Ordinance of the City of Santa Cruz directs that suppliers who contract with the City for $10,000 or more for specific services, must pay their employees the current City living wage rate. For more information, view the Living Wage Ordinance, Living Wage Compliance Statement, Living Wage Employee Notice, call 831-420-5080, or email.

Does the City Have a Program for Disadvantaged Businesses?
We are happy to work with any business to help you with the bid process. However, we do not have preference programs for small businesses or businesses owned by socially or economically disadvantaged individuals.

Do Local Suppliers Receive Preference From the City?
Yes. The amount of sales tax which would be returned to the City will be considered when evaluating bids. For suppliers located within Santa Cruz city limits, this amount will be calculated at 1.5% of the selling price of taxable commodities.

How Does the City Make Payments?
We issue payment to suppliers approximately thirty days after acceptance of the merchandise and/or service, and the correct original invoice, whichever arrives last. To expedite payment, put purchase order numbers on all invoices, shipping tags, and other correspondence relevant to the order.

We issue checks to suppliers every other week. We dispense approximately 600 checks per pay period, and there are many accounting controls in place for each check issued. Due to the volume of work, it is not possible to issue checks outside of our regular schedule. It is our policy to mail checks to suppliers; picking up checks personally is not permitted. Feel free to call accounts payable at 831-420-5170 if you would like to learn about how you can work with our system and have your checks issued in a timely manner.

You are encouraged to offer the City an early payment discount. We strive to take all discounts where the payment period is fifteen days, or longer.

Are There Standard Performance Expectations?
Yes, performance and delivery requirements are outlined in written specifications. Once a contract is in place, failure to fulfill any of the conditions may result in termination of your contract.

May I Give Gifts to City Employees?
No, we maintain a policy prohibiting our employees from accepting gifts and/or gratuities from any supplier. We discourage even the appearance of favoritism. You are encouraged to develop professional and ethical relationships with all City employees.

How Are the City’s Emergency Purchases Handled?
There are times during emergencies when an order must be placed by City personnel after hours or on weekends when the Purchasing Division is normally closed. Emergency purchases may be made for items which are immediately necessary for the continued operation of the division involved or which are immediately necessary for the preservation of life or property. Rest assured, you will be paid for anything you sell to City employees under these conditions. The Purchasing Division maintains an Emergency Resource List; complete an Emergency Resource Agreement to be included in this list. 

Does the City Issue Blanket Purchase Orders?
Yes, a blanket purchase order allows you to sell goods to us on an as-needed basis, sometimes at specific prices or under a specific pricing formula, for a stipulated period of time.

Do I Need a Business License?
Yes, if you are located in, or perform services within, city limits. Call the Treasury and Revenue Division at 831-420-5070 if you want more information.

When are Sales Calls Allowed?
We urge you to make a definite appointment, by calling 831-420-5080, before coming to the Purchasing Division. Purchasing staff is generally available from 8 a.m. to noon and from 1 p.m. – 5 p.m., Monday through Thursday.

Who Can Answer My Questions?
The following is a list of Purchasing Division personnel who may assist you:

Purchasing Manager: 831-420-5082
Purchasing Staff:  831-420-5080
Accounts Payable:  831-420-5170

Information is also available at the Purchasing Division webpage

Purchasing Code of Ethics

  • To regard public service as a sacred trust, giving primary consideration to the interests of the City of Santa Cruz.
  • To purchase without prejudice, seeking to obtain the maximum value for each dollar expended.
  • To avoid unfair practices, giving all qualified suppliers equal opportunity.
  • To honor our obligations and require that obligations to the City of Santa Cruz be honored.
  • To accord supplier representatives courteous treatment, remembering that these representatives are important sources of information and assistance in solving our purchasing needs.
  • To refuse to accept any form of commercial bribery, and prevent any appearance of so doing.
  • To be receptive to counsel from our colleagues, and to cooperate with them to promote a spirit of teamwork and unity.
  • To conduct ourselves with fairness and dignity, and to demand honesty and truth in the purchasing process.
  • To strive for greater knowledge of purchasing methods and of the materials we purchase.
  • To cooperate with all organizations and individuals involved in activities designed to enhance the development of the purchasing profession, remembering that our actions reflect on the entire purchasing profession.

The guidelines presented here have been prepared and provided to you, the supplier, for information purposes only. They do not supplant the laws, regulations, and procedures governing procurement by the City of Santa Cruz. In the event of changes in those laws, regulations, or procedures; the laws, regulations, and procedures are binding and take precedence. 

Email Purchasing division

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Last updated: 2/8/2013 7:29:50 AM