Kent Mayor Dana Ralph and nine other South King County mayors sent a letter Wednesday to Gov. Jay Inslee asking him to reopen construction of residential and commercial projects shut down because of the stay home order due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Reopening construction, even in phases, will ensure residential and commercial structures that were already underway can be completed,” according to the letter signed by the mayors. “It will relieve some of the pressure put on our unemployment system, create jobs, stimulate the supply chain economy and ensure more Washingtonians don’t end up without a roof over their heads in the middle of this crisis.”
With health and safety for workers as a priority, the mayors support a plan the labor and business communities have developed requiring documentation that is posted at each job site and fully complied with, including inspection of the sites to ensure compliance, according to the letter.
“Reopening construction, while it won’t save our entire economy, it will provide some relief to local government,” the letter states. “We ask that you please consider this request, along with calls from the labor and business community, county executives, mayors and elected officials across the state to reopen our construction industry.”
The letter was signed by Covington Mayor Jeff Wagner, Renton Mayor Armondo Pavone, Enumclaw Mayor Jan Molinaro, Tukwila Mayor Allan Ekberg, Burien Mayor Jimmy Matta, Pacific Mayor Leanne Guier, SeaTac Mayor Erin Sitterly, Black Diamond Mayor Carol Benson and Auburn Mayor Nancy Backus.
When asked why Federal Way Mayor Jim Ferrell had not signed the letter, city spokesman Tyler Hemstreet replied via email: “The mayor and council decided that we are going to work on our own letter to the governor. We as a city are engaged on these issues and we are going to discuss them, as well as the content of the forthcoming letter, more thoroughly at the May 5 council meeting.”
The city of Kent posted to Facebook the following message:
“In a time where the federal government has bailed out airlines, cruise lines have requested support, large business, some small business, states, counties and large cities – they’ve left cities our size on our own. It means there’s no magic money coming to cover the millions of dollars of revenue lost – we must phase in our local economy to generate revenue our residents will lose programs and critical services they rely on.”
Inslee said in a Tuesday address that given encouraging signs that the spread of coronavirus is likely in decline, prohibitions could be lifted soon on some elective surgeries, residential construction and much of the outdoor recreation “that is so much a part of our Northwest identity, as well as our physical and mental health.”
But he also said moving too fast, too soon to repeal restrictions across the board could be “disastrous” and lead to another outbreak.