Arne B. Sandberg is Senior Counsel in Lozano Smith's Walnut Creek office. Mr. Sandberg represents public agencies in construction disputes and complex property cases. He has litigated on behalf of public agencies since 1993, and he has specialized in public works construction disputes and litigation since 1997.
Mr. Sandberg has represented a wide variety of public works projects "from cradle to grave," with emphasis on proactive project management to minimize claims, as well as cost-effective resolution of disputes and litigation. He helps clients resolve as many disputes as possible during construction, while assisting clients in keeping the project on schedule and preparing clients for claims that may arise at the conclusion of the project. In addition to defending large claims, he has prosecuted many actions to recover damages for public agency clients based on design and construction defects, including seven-figure recoveries.
Mr. Sandberg also drafts construction agreements for public agencies with contractors, design professionals, and construction managers. While no agreement is "bullet proof," he relies on his experience in disputes to develop provisions that reasonably protect his clients' interests and minimize the potential for disputes.
Mr. Sandberg earned his J.D. from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law. He earned a B.A. from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
He is a member of the California Bar Association and the American Public Works Association.
Mr. Sandberg speaks regularly on construction topics at public agency and construction industry conferences, including APWA, CASBO, SSDA and CASH, as well as webinars and other venues.
Two decisions in the last three months have increased the potential for a public entity to be held liable for an injury suffered on one of its recreational trails. Appellate courts deciding Garcia v. American Golf Corporation (May 3, 2017, No. B267613) ___ Cal.App.5th ___ and Toeppe v. City of San Diego (July 27, 2017, No. D069662) ___ Cal.App.5th ___ held that a public entity cannot assert recreational trail immunity when an adjacent hazardous condition of the publi...
Scrutiny regarding school districts' use of lease-leaseback (LLB) construction contracts has prompted the Legislature to impose additional contracting requirements that will make the use of LLB more complicated, and will limit a school district's discretion in selecting the LLB contractor. Assembly Bill (AB) 2316, which the Governor signed on September 23, 2016, will require school districts to use a comprehensive "best value" selection process for LLB contractors. A...
As of January 1, California school districts have been authorized to use job order contracts for public works projects greater than $25,000. Approved by Governor Jerry Brown in October of last year, Assembly Bill No. 1431 modified the Local Agency Public Construction Act to authorize job order contracting for school districts until January 1, 2022. This bill comes after a decade-long pilot program of the job order contract project delivery method at Los Angeles Unified...
An appellate court has ruled that a lease-leaseback (LLB) contract without competitive bidding was legally enforceable. In McGee v. Balfour Beatty Construction, LLC, et al. (Apr. 12, 2016) 2016 Cal.App.Unpub. Lexis 2626, a California appellate court rejected the holding of Davis v. Fresno Unified School District (2015) 237 Cal.App.4th 261, that competitive bidding was required for an LLB contract unless additional non-statutory contract terms were included. However, t...
Local public agencies have several options when it comes to choosing a delivery method for a construction project. The public-private partnership method, or P3, is one option that is receiving increased attention. P3 involves a long term partnership between a public agency and private entity, where typically the private entity finances, designs, builds, operates, and/or maintains a fee-producing public project. In exchange, the private entity will be repaid over an ex...
The Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) recently announced that it has temporarily suspended enforcement of its requirement that contractors submit their certified payroll records (CPR) electronically. This electronic system ("eCPR" system) was intended to take the place of contractors submitting paper copies of their records, but the eCPR system is not working as expected. Even though the DIR has suspended the eCPR system for the time being, contractors are stil...
New legislation will impact public works projects for local public agencies, including cities, school districts, and counties. In light of these changes, public agencies will want to closely review their public works bidding and construction documents to ensure they are updated in accordance with these new laws.
Liquidated Damages - Government Code section 53069.85 currently allows liquidated damage provisions in local agency public works contracts to compensa...
In a year when lease-leaseback agreements have been a hot topic, a new bill makes prequalification mandatory for all lease-leaseback and lease-to-own agreements by school districts having more than 2,500 average daily attendance (ADA), and makes other significant changes to school construction law.
Commencing in 2012, Public Contract Code section 20111.6 made prequalification mandatory for school district public projects where three criteria were met: (1) a pro...
Despite a recent appellate court decision that affirmed the validity of "lease-leaseback" contracts for school districts to build facilities under Education Code §§17400, et seq., a new appellate court decision from a different appellate court district has allowed a lawsuit to proceed against a particular lease-leaseback arrangement that was similar to many in use by school districts in the State. In a portion of the decision relevant to all public agencies, ...
Number 8To consolidate and amend the numerous design-build statutes for certain public agencies that have been enacted over many years, the Legislature passed Senate Bill (SB) 785 in 2014, with some elements becoming effective January 1, 2015. This law repealed existing design-build statutes for cities, counties, waste and recycling facilities, the Santa Clara County Transit District, the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission, and redevelopment agencies.
In their s...
An appellate court has confirmed that a public agency can access retention funds held in escrow simply by declaring the contractor to be in default on the public works project. In Pittsburg Unified School District v. S.J. Amoroso Construction Co., Inc. (December 22, 2014) 2014 Cal.App. Lexis 1175, the contractor attempted to distinguish its case from other recent court decisions that allowed such access, but the court rejected its arguments.
Generally, if requeste...
Addressing a long-simmering issue, a California appellate court decision has confirmed that a school district need not comply with competitive bidding when constructing facilities under a "lease-leaseback" arrangement. This ruling confirms that recent challenges to lease-leaseback agreements are without merit.
Lease-leaseback is a construction delivery method authorized by Education Code section 17406, which allows a school board "without advertising for bids" ...
When is a defect in a low bidder's paperwork too significant for the public entity owner to waive? The Court of Appeal recently added another piece in the patchwork quilt of law addressing this seemingly simple, but sometimes difficult, question. The court concluded that a public agency may waive the omission of a single page of a bid package if exclusion of the page did not affect the bid amount or provide the bidder an advantage.
In Bay Cities Paving & Gradin...
Significant Changes for Construction Management
Beginning June 1, 2013, the Division of State Architects (DSA) will require new procedures and a new series of forms related to the inspection of school district and community college construction projects. Currently, contractors can start work on the second phase of a project before the first phase has been inspected and approved. After June 1, the DSA will require inspection and approval of the contractor's work on one ...
Numerous changes to the California Civil Code on July 1, 2012, will affect the stop notice provisions, which allow a subcontractor to force a public agency owner to withhold funds from the general contractor when the subcontractor has not been paid. The following is a summary of the more significant changes to these procedures.
Stop Payment Notices - As of July 1, "stop notices" will be referred to as "stop payment notices." This change more accurately reflects the ...
When a public entity receives a stop notice on one of its public works projects, it has a statutory obligation to withhold the amount of the stop notice and its "reasonable cost of any litigation." (Civ. Code, § 3186.) Many public entities have historically treated "reasonable cost" as including attorney fees. However, in Tri-State, Inc. v. Long Beach Community College District (Mar. 12, 2012) __ Cal.App.4th __ (2012 WL 764416), the court ruled that "reasonable co...
An appellate court has issued a decision that favors local public agencies when they experience delays on construction projects. In Greg Opinski Construction, Inc. v. City of Oakdale (October 6, 2011) 199 Cal.App.4th 1107 [WL 4625304], the court held that if a contractor fails to follow contract procedures to obtain a time extension, a local public agency is entitled to liquidated damages for delay in completing a project, even if the agency caused the delay. In ad...
Two bills signed by Governor Brown directly affect labor issues on public works projects. Assembly Bill (AB) 587 renews existing law exempting volunteer labor from prevailing wage requirements. Senate Bill (SB) 922 authorizes public agencies to enter into project labor agreements to avoid delays and interruptions on construction projects.
Labor Code section 1720.4 permits public agencies to use volunteer labor without paying prevailing wages. A volunteer ...
New Law Clarifies Defense And Indemnity Obligations For Architects And Engineers...
Notable Projects and Cases
Mr. Sandberg has successfully resolved many complex public agency disputes with contractors, subcontractors, design professionals, and construction managers. Notable projects and litigation include:
- City of Antioch – $16 million water treatment plant expansion;
- Coast Unified School District - $20 million elementary school construction;
- City of Clovis - $28 million surface water treatment plant construction;
- Napa Valley Community College District - $25 million library and learning center construction;
- Merced City School District - $5 million elementary school expansion;
- Lammersville Joint Unified School District - $25 million elementary school construction;
- Pajaro Valley Unified School District - $14 million Watsonville High School addition;
- City of Milpitas - $40 million City Hall construction;
- City of San Leandro - $15 million library expansion and retrofit;
- City of Dublin - $13 million library construction;
- Alameda County Mosquito Abatement District - administration building expansion;
- Town of Windsor - corporation yard construction;
- East Bay Regional Park District - Contra Loma Swim Lagoon construction;