March 19, 2020

As layoffs increase in response to health concerns, Councilmember Pine calls on government to lead the effort to stimulate the building industry with construction and maintenance jobs

HONOLULU, HAWAI‘I — Hiring new city workers to rapidly increase building permit approvals will stimulate the economy and help keep our city clean. Councilmember Kym Pine has made those two recommendations to the City Administration in light of the COVID-19 crisis.

“With tourism dramatically down, we need an economic driver to keep the economy afloat,” said Pine. “In addition to hiring temporary construction specialists for the under-staffed Department of Planning and Permitting, I hope the City Administration makes further changes to allow faster approvals to permits applications. The temporary hiring of licensed construction industry specialists can speed up the Department of Planning and Permitting’s (DPP) lengthy plan-checking process and get permits approved faster,” Councilmember Pine said. “The Department could use this opportunity to switch to a streamlined, in-person inspection process to make sure plans match the work being done in the field. This allows projects to quickly get a permit, order supplies and get people to work faster. There is no better time to build than now, when interest rates are low.”

“We can also hire laid-off workers from other industries to assist DPP in work that doesn’t require specialized experience,” Pine said.

Once the construction industry is healthy, private industry will follow.

“The building industry can be the savior of our economy, so we need to double down on assistance. When construction workers and businesses are earning money they buy homes, goods and services and eat at restaurants when those that are laid off cannot. The purchasing of building supplies helps those companies and employees stay afloat. This will also encourage those in the construction industry to hire many of the workers who were laid off for various other positions,” said Pine.

The city and state can do even more hiring. “I urge the mayor and governor to meet with union leaders to discuss how we can work together to hire faster to stimulate the economy. This city currently has hundreds of vacancies and has struggled with filling positions due to our previously low unemployment, yet the hiring process can take a minimum of six months or even longer under normal conditions.”

“With so many people on O‘ahu losing their jobs, we must do everything we can to hire faster, to keep the economy from collapsing. We need to ensure that O‘ahu residents can get back to working immediately, to alleviate fear of unemployment and worry about paying bills.”

“I will also be making amendments to the budget to increase custodial staff and garbage collection to create a healthier and cleaner city. We are at-risk for virus spread and we must create a new way of doing things by increasing staff to clean up illegal dumping and improve cleaning of all city facilities, parks and beaches.”

Councilmember Kym Pine represents residents of District One (ʻEwa, ʻEwa Beach, Kapolei, Honokai Hale, Ko ʻOlina, Nānākuli, Mā‘ili, Wai‘anae, Mākaha, Kea‘au, Mākua) and is chair of the City Council’s Committee on Business Economic Development and Tourism.

Erika Engle
Communications Director
Councilmember Kym Pine
Honolulu City Council, District One
530 South King Street
Honolulu, Hawaii 96813
Main 808.768.5001

03-19-20 COVID stimulus release FINAL.docx