The Pool Building Challenge-19

Despite all the scary stuff associated with a highly contagious virus that has shut down most of the United States, along with a large portion of the world, nobody wants to be on unemployment insurance or furloughed, and no business owner wants to shut down or lose their business. As a result, every industry you can think of from battery manufacturers to golf courses, shooting clubs, cannabis retailers and many more are appealing to the President, Governors, and Mayors for exemptions to Shelter in Place orders and designations as essential businesses.

The swimming pool, spa, and hot tub industry is no different. California Pool & Spa Association, Pool & Hot Tub Alliance and other affiliated organizations across the country have been doing all they can to make the argument that pool service, maintenance, and building are essential businesses, and manufacturing and distribution are essential to support the service and building segments of the industry.

CPSA has made the aforementioned case directly to Governor Gavin Newsom referencing the Federal CISA Essential Business document, upon which the Governor’s Executive Order is based, that justification for each segment of the industry can be found. We have followed up our efforts with a direct appeal to the California Governor and Department of Public Health. Also, regarding pool service, we have garnered the support of the California Special Districts Association and Mosquito and Vector Control Association of California. CPSA also sent via email a letter to each of the 58 County Public Health Officers outlining the importance of pool service and requesting a specific exemption.

On the pool building side, CPSA has been working with the California Building Industry Association and the local Builders Exchanges in keeping construction classified as an essential business. This effort has been very successful from a state perspective. Shortly after the Governor issued his initial Executive Order, he came out with a public statement stating, “All construction, particularly residential construction, is deemed essential.”

Over a week ago, when New York had shuttered construction and San Francisco was doing the same, the Governor announced publicly, quoted in literally every newspaper, that California was not New York reiterating again all construction was exempted from his Executive Order.

The problem is the Governor’s Shelter in Place Order does not preempt cities and counties from passing more restrictive local ordinances. San Francisco is a case in point. The San Francisco Department of Building Inspection has been inundated with complaints of non-essential construction being conducted in violation of the city’s COVID-19 health order, primarily driven by residents observing work illegally continuing in their neighborhoods, for between March 30 and April 8, they received over 700 such complaints.

CPSA has developed a document that can be displayed in the window of every construction vehicle setting forth the Governor’s position and explicitly showing the justification that pool construction is essential and exempt from Shelter in Place orders. Currently, we are in the process of writing to each of the city and state building offices, but unfortunately, this task will take some time for a contact list does not exist like the one we used for public health officers.

Overall, CPSA believes its position is on solid footing and will be respected in most California jurisdictions; however, there are a few exceptions like San Francisco. Finishing a pool project is one thing but obtaining a permit to start a new job may be quite another given that so many city and county building departments are either shut down or are currently operating with a skeleton staff.

CPSA continues to work hard for all segments of the swimming pool, hot tub, and spa industry. We are here for you and will try to provide support wherever we can. Thank you for your support and membership.