Cut the Red Tape. Let’s Build Now

Stuart Waldman
President, Valley Industry & Commerce Association

To say we are living in unprecedented times would be an understatement. I can’t tell you how many Zoom calls I’ve been on in the last month. I’m sure many of you can relate.

This new normal has required us to adapt in order to continue taking care of business. Being ordered to stay at home does not mean that everything needs to stop. In fact, we need to be looking ahead to when all of this is over. Albeit, we don’t know what the next few months will look like or when we’ll be allowed to see our friends and family again, but we do know that at the end of this people are going to need jobs.

The city, county and state have all done an exceptional job keeping us safe, protecting our first responders and providing resources for workers and businesses. However, many businesses continue to struggle making enough money just to stay afloat and have been forced to let go of their employees. So now, those employees are jobless with little to no options for work during this time.

 People are out of work. Let’s get them back to work. Let’s start building. Let’s start recovering.

Our local transportation agencies are working on a number of projects that will transform the way we get around in Los Angeles. Developers are working on getting more housing built. None of this will get done without people working and building these projects.

The time to build is now.

Why now? Like I said earlier, we’ve been required to adapt in order to continue taking care of business. The construction of critical infrastructure and development of desperately needed housing should not come to a pause or even slow down because of COVID-19. Gov. Gavin Newsom agrees. His Stay at Home Executive Order has included construction as part of the “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce.”

Workers who support the construction of critical or strategic infrastructure and workers who support the construction, operation, inspection, and maintenance of construction sites and construction projects, including housing construction, are allowed to continue working.

The first step to helping people get back to work would be making changes to the lengthy approval process and eliminating expensive fees. Companies and developers that are willing to provide jobs during this economic crisis and during the recovery from COVID-19 should see a streamlined approval process and a reduction in planning and administrative costs.

Housing projects that meet the minimum criteria should be granted approval and be allowed to begin construction as soon as possible. No public hearings. No Neighborhood Councils. No ridiculously high fees. There is no reason for these projects to be stalled. If the project meets requirements put in place by lawmakers and the Planning Department, then they should get built.

Now, the construction of some projects like the East San Fernando Valley light rail line or the Orange Line conversion to light rail project may not come easy, but the process of getting these projects ready for construction needs to continue. I know community groups and NIMBY’s would love to see these projects be a casualty of COVID-19. But we need to keep them moving forward and ensure they stay on track to meet their deadlines. Having these projects fall behind schedule will cost us more in the long run.

People need jobs now and people are going to need jobs during the recovery. Keeping projects on track will ensure that those jobs will be available. Removing barriers to construction, reducing fees, and providing incentives to the employers providing jobs will help us recover from COVID-19 quicker and help people get back to work right away.

Let’s build and let’s get to work.

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