Master Builders Association of Pierce County Members,
I understand that, at home and in your places of work, things have been turned upside down these last few months. I want to thank you all for your resiliency and commitment to our industry and association during this time of uncertainty. Furthermore, I want to take this time to recognize the efforts that our members and staff have been making to get our industry back to work, not the least of which was influencing the Governor’s Office to open construction during the Phase 1 restart and other local wins we have had in Pierce County and associated cities within.
When the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” Order was initially issued, our government affairs efforts were focused almost exclusively on getting residential construction deemed to be an essential industry by the Governor’s Office; on getting our members back to work in a safe manner that observes best practices surrounding COVID-19 to keep workers healthy in the midst of the current crisis. We sent a permitting action plan to all Pierce County jurisdictions that requested efforts for municipalities to pursue during the monthlong work stoppage. We requested these jurisdictions to petition the Governor’s Office to deem construction an essential industry, and we directly petitioned the Gov. Inslee to reconsider our industry’s nonessential status. Through these efforts and the workgroup BIAW participated on, residential home construction was able to resume during the Phase 1 economic restart.
Locally, our government affairs efforts have been successful as well. Master Builders Association of Pierce County has been working with jurisdictions to determine their modified inspection protocols so that members can be prepared to adapt to new requirements and procedures. We have also been encouraging jurisdictions to extend permit timelines and defer the collection of permit fees and impact fees to closing or point of sale. So far, Pierce County has passed ordinances to temporarily suspend Land Use Advisory Committee meetings and to temporarily grant extensions (up to six months) on permits; Tacoma established Director’s Rules to allow for permit and plat extensions; Puyallup passed an ordinance to temporarily grant extensions (up to six months) on permits and short plats and is drafting an ordinance to defer permit and impact fees to closing; Auburn has deferred the collection of impact and building permit fees to closing and granted a 180 day extension to all 2,000+ active building permits in the City; and Buckley has passed an ordinance to temporarily grant extensions on permits and is considering an ordinance to defer payment of traffic impact fees to certificate of occupancy. Lakewood, Bonney Lake, Orting, and Milton all expressed intent to administratively extend permit timelines that have been affected by COVID-19 and associated work stoppages.
We have also successfully petitioned the extension of the State Building Code Update and Stormwater Management and Site Development Manual. Many of our members sent letters to the State Building Code Council, requesting to delay the new code updates slated for July 1, 2020. The Council decided to delay the new building code updates to November 1, 2020. Members also wrote to the Director of the Department of Ecology, requesting the delay in implementation of the adopted Stormwater Management and Site Development Manual, effective December 5, 2020. Members are particularly concerned with the expiration of all permits issued pursuant to prior regulations on the implementation date. The Department of Ecology has reached out to Pierce County regarding our request and the County is pursuing an ordinance that extends the vesting period to July 1, 2021.
In addition to our government affairs efforts, our staff has been working diligently to make sure that we have information on the resources available to help our businesses through this difficult time. I would encourage you to visit www.mbapierce.com/covid-19 or see the PDF version of our comprehensive COVID-19 Resource Guide for details and links for important programs available to you. This resource guide includes a retrospect, as well as a pathway for getting safely back to work.
I would once again like to thank the members who have taken part in these legislative wins. Your efforts have been paramount to not only getting industry back to work, but to ensure commitment from municipalities as we seek economic recovery. I would also like to thank all members for their commitment to all facets of our association. Because of you, Master Builders Association of Pierce County has been a well-respected source and partner to elected officials, homebuyers, and industry members during this time of uncertainty.
Master Builders Association of Pierce County President