Governor Overrides Austin on Allowing Residential Construction
When Mayor Adler released his shelter in place order on March 24, many real estate and construction companies in Austin were very unhappy. That’s because, unlike other large cities in Texas, Mayor Adler’s order explicitly excluded construction from a list of essential businesses – with a couple of exceptions.
Those companies will be happy to know that Governor Abbott has now overruled the City of Austin. On March 31, Governor Abbott issued an executive order that echoed the “stay-at-home” orders of many of the large Texas cities have enacted. This order allows most residential construction to continue.
Governor Abbott’s order states that everyone in “Texas shall, except where necessary to provide or obtain essential services, minimize social gatherings and minimize in-person contact with people who are not in the same household.”
Abbott stated that “essential services” consists of everything listed by the US Department of Homeland Security in its Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce, Version 2.0 (the “Guidance”).
According to the Guidance, workers performing housing construction related activities to ensure additional units can be made available to combat the nation’s housing shortage qualify are essential services. It also states that workers supporting the construction of housing are included.
In his order, Governor Abbott also explicitly stated that, to the extent his order conflicts with any local order, his order supersedes it.
As a result of Governor Abbott’s order, therefore, residential construction is considered an essential service and may continue in Austin.