On March 19, 2020, Governor Newsom issued Executive Order N-33-20, directing all Californians to stay at home to address the threat of COVID-19, and to heed the State public health directives from the Department of Public Health. The order specifically states:
“To protect public health, I as State Public Health Officer and Director of the California Department of Public Health order all individuals living in the State of California to stay home or at their place of residence except as needed to maintain continuity of operations of the federal critical infrastructure sectors, as outlined at www.cisa.gov/identifying-critical-infrastructure-during-covid-19.”
The Governor has identified a long list of “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers” exempted from the stay at home order, which includes “construction workers who support the construction, operation, inspection, and maintenance of construction sites and construction projects (including housing construction).”
Are Community College Construction Projects Exempt from the Order?
Community college districts should follow the Executive Order and the law, along with federal, state, and local guidance, to determine the path forward for their construction projects. While the exemptions authorized by the Executive Order are broad, the choice to proceed is ultimately a local decision. As part of this process, please consult your legal counsel. Additionally, the Executive Order stipulates that all people leaving their homes should “at all times practice social distancing,” and this would also apply to construction projects.
In his daily COVID-19 press conference on March 24, the Governor highlighted the important work of community colleges, saying: “Just remember the community college system is the backbone of our training in the state of California. By some estimates, 70% of our first responders […] are trained through that community college system and they’re doing heroic work in this state.”
Community College Capital Outlay Projects and COVID-19 Impacts
On March 25, the Department of Finance issued a memo instructing state departments to prepare for a “workload budget” scenario for FY 2020-21, significantly limiting new spending and focusing on paying for existing obligations and core operations. The memo specifies that the workload budget approach also applies to capital outlay funding. While the state is entering this period with a strong reserve, we expect policymakers to focus on addressing the current coronavirus crisis and economic uncertainty in this year’s budget.
CCFC has been in communication with the Chancellor’s Office to determine potential effects to capital outlay projects in the FY 20-21 budget and beyond. In his January budget, the Governor proposed to fund preliminary plans for 24 new start projects in FY 20-21, and to identify continuing projects at the May Revision. It is too soon to know how these projects may be affected by the recent DOF workload budget order, and we will keep you updated as we know more.
Additionally, the Chancellor’s Office has indicated that deadlines for the upcoming capital outlay program submittals for IPPs, FPPs, and Five-Year Plans may be adjusted, and the 2020 Call Letter will soon be forthcoming. They recognize the challenge that districts may face in developing project proposal documents during this difficult time.
CCFC – Next Steps in Advocacy
Through all of this, the CCFC Board of Directors and our advocates have been focused on continuing the organization’s work on legislative and budget advocacy as well as keeping our members informed. Decisions that are made in the next couple of months will be extremely important to all of us.
In order to ensure our member’s interests are represented, our next steps include:
Advocating to fund all new start and continuing projects approved by the Board Governors in the FY 20-21 Budget.
Keeping our members updated on the Chancellor’s Office timelines and deadlines for project proposals and Five-Year plans.
Monitoring and reporting changes in the COVID-19 information and guidance landscape that affect community college construction projects and facilities.
Advocating with the legislature on bills and other policy proposals related to COVID-19 and facilities issues.
Please contact Rebekah Cearley or Jessica Contreras if you have questions or require assistance.
William H. Duncan, IV
Below is a selection of resources that we recommend for COVID-19 updates and information.
California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office
Division of the State Architect
Note that as of March 16, DSA will be holding all client meetings, including back checks, virtually over the web.