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Real Estate Council of Austin asks City to reconsider construction ban

The council says the ban will devastate construction workers and small businesses.

AUSTIN, Texas — Following Mayor Steve Adler's stay-at-home order Tuesday, the Real Estate Council of Austin (RECA) is urging the City to reconsider its construction ban.

While construction is considered essential work, only certain types of construction will be allowed to continue, according to a guidance memo from the City.

The memo prohibits most commercial and residential construction activities except in very limited situations where the construction involves essential and critical facilities.

However, RECA said it believes the City can continue to implement public health and safety practices without halting this construction work.

“Public health and safety is the top priority for all of us, but the mayor’s implementation of a construction ban shuts down essential work, makes unrelated exceptions for narrow categories, and goes too far,” RECA CEO Dianne Bangle said in a press release. 

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The construction ban will devastate construction workers and small businesses, including large communities of color, skilled and unskilled trades, labor and their families, Bangle said.

"These communities will permanently leave our city to find work in other cities in this state and those cities will allow them to continue to work safely and support their families while building critical housing and infrastructure," Bangle said.

RECA Board Chair Peter Cesaro said it is concerning some City-affiliated projects are continuing to move forward, while the rest of the City is forced to halt construction.

"This sends a mixed message to the community," Cesaro said. "There are best practices and safety measures that can be put into place to both protect the community’s health and wellbeing and to keep our workforce both safe and employed.” 

Austin's ban implementation is more extreme than that of New York City, where coronavirus numbers are the highest in the nation, Bangle said.

"The City implementing this construction ban but also making narrow exceptions contradicts their stated reasoning regarding public health and safety," Bangle said. "Instead of helping public health and safety, it will destroy working families who most need construction industry income to support their families.”

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