Press Releases

Puerto Rico Builders Association Recommendations Regarding Construction Jobsite Safety and the COVID-19 Outbreak

The purpose of this document is to describe the specific mitigation strategies that our members as well as the Construction Industry in Puerto Rico should take to combat the COVID‐19 outbreak. These strategies are derived from the CDC, OSHA and other organizations’ workplace recommendations.

 

Download the document:

Spanish Version – Prácticas para la industria de la construcción – COVID-19

English Version – COVID-19 Construction Jobsite Safety Rev 3 – 5-1-2020 f




Ponencia ante el Proyecto de la Cámara 930

19 de febrero de 2020

Hon. Carlos Rodríguez Mateo

Presidente

Comisión de Recursos Naturales

Senado de Puerto Rico

 

Estimado Senador:

Buen día al Presidente y miembros de la Comisión, miembros de la prensa y publico presente. Comparece la Asociación de Constructores de Puerto Rico y su Presidente, Alfredo Martínez-Álvarez, Jr., representado por este servidor, Lic. Patricio Martínez Lorenzo, miembro de nuestra Junta de Directores y Chair del Comité Ambiental.

  1. ASEVERACIÓN PRELIMINAR

La Asociación de Constructores de Puerto Rico (“ACPR” o “Asociación”) entiende que las actividades de construcción o de desarrollo de nuevos proyectos y actividades en Puerto Rico deben estar sujetas a un régimen de permisos que satisfaga cuatro criterios, a saber, que sea: (1) claro o transparente, (2) previsible o predecible;  (3) correctamente fundamentado o racional; y, consistente o armonioso con criterios federales aplicables  Con la aprobación de la Ley Núm. 161 de 1 de dic. de 2009, según enmendada, conocida como la Ley para la Reforma del Proceso de Permisos de Puerto Rico, comenzó un proceso, lamentablemente no concluido, por introducir esos tres elementos en la forma y manera que Puerto Rico regula actividades o proyectos de importancia económica.  La justa o apropiada identificación y, por ende, manejo de los impactos ambientales o riesgos asociados a proyectos o acciones propuestas es otro elemento crítico.  En el pasado, la consideración de impactos ambientales se utilizó no como un mecanismo para exponer y considerar los impactos ambientales de actividades propuestas sino como una herramienta procesal para atrasar e impedir la justa y pronta evaluación y consideración de medidas de manejo y mitigación para los impactos ambientales de proyectos y acciones de importancia económica.

La Asociación considera indispensable que toda medida legislativa propuesta que afecte la industria de la construcción se evalúe bajo el crisol de los criterios antes indicados, no como un mero ejercicio académico o conceptual, sino para propiciar ese sistema de permisos que, de implantarse, contribuirá a que Puerto Rico supere su rango de número 64 en agilidad para hacer negocios (Ease of Doing Business) y 143 en obtención de permisos de construcción (Dealing with Construction Permits) entre 190 economías globales.  World Bank, Economy Profile Puerto Rico – Doing Business 2020, disponible en: https://www.doingbusiness.org/content/dam/doingBusiness/country/p/puerto-rico/PRI.pdf  A modo de contexto, Puerto Rico ocupó la posición número 33 entre 178 economías en el 2008; 135 en la obtención de permisos de construcción.  World Bank, Doing Business2008, disponible en: http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/pt/948961468295008781/pdf/428940Doing0Bu1WP020080Puerto0Rico0.pdf

  1. CLEAN WATER ACT: FLUIDEZ DE CRITERIOS

Con relación, específicamente al P de la C. 930, la Asociación entiende que la medida estará en conflicto con uno o más de los criterios antes indicados y, por tal razón, no debe aprobarse. La medida se adentra en un área sustantiva de derecho asociado con la Ley Federal de Agua Limpia (Clean Water Act o CWA), 33 U.S.C. secs. 1251 et seq., y reglamentación promulgada a su amparo, tanto por la Agencia de Protección Ambiental federal (EPA, según sus siglas en inglés), 40 C.F.R. Parts 230-32[1], como por el Cuerpo de Ingenieros de los EEUU,  33 CFR Parts 323, 328-29[2].

El CWA tiene un complejo historial judicial interpretativo de sus disposiciones principales.  La forma y manera de reglamentar humedales, comenzando con la consideración de umbral de qué humedales deben reglamentarse, veáse, United States v. Riverside Bayview Homes, Inc., 474 U.S. 121 (1985), es una que, a partir de Rapanos v. United States, 575 U.S. 715 (2006), está inmersa en una compleja batalla judicial y reglamentaria.  En este último caso, propuestas del Ejecutivo para definir conceptos críticos tales como cuáles son: waters of the United States; qué es y cómo se determina un significant nexus; cuál vegetación es un indicador adecuado de las condiciones legales para ser un humedal cubierto; qué sistemas artificiales de colección y distribución de aguas, tales como, zanjas, canales, sistemas de riego, sistemas de aguas de escorrentía, pueden o deben considerarse como aguas cubiertas o tributarios de aguas navegables, para fines de la determinación de proximidad (adjacency) a humedales, son algunos de los elementos contenciosos del WOTUS Rule de 2015, propuesto por la administración del Presidente Obama[3]. La definición de los conceptos claves descritos propiciaron su derogación[4] y los esfuerzos posteriores por la administración del Presidente Trump para promulgar una definición más a tono, según afirman sus proponentes, con la decisión del Tribunal Supremo de los EEUU en Rapanos.[5]  Estos esfuerzos continúan y, tan recientemente como el 22 de enero, 2020, la EPA y el Cuerpo de Ingenieros anunciaron que habían acordado y concluido lo que identifican como el Navigable Waters Protection Rule[6]. Éste idéntica que:

… the agencies are streamlining the definition so that it includes four simple categories of jurisdictional waters, provides clear exclusions for many water features that traditionally have not been regulated, and defines terms in the regulatory text that have never been defined before. Congress, in the Clean Water Act, explicitly directed the Agencies to protect “navigable waters.” The Navigable Waters Protection Rule regulates these waters and the core tributary systems that provide perennial or intermittent flow into them.

La versión pre-publicación a la del Federal Register, contiene definiciones para jurisdictional waters, non-jurisdictional waters, wetlands, adjacent wetlands, ditch, ephemeral, entre otros[7].

Ésta, al igual que las distintas propuestas definitorias de lo que constituyen aguas de los EEUU a partir del WOTUS Rule 2015 de la Administración Obama[8] han sido y con toda certeza continuarán siendo objeto de prolongado cuestionamiento judicial[9]. La reglamentación federal sobre humedales, y su implantación por el Gobierno Federal (EPA y USACOE) incide significativamente sobre el valor y tenencia de la propiedad inmueble y, por consiguiente, ha sido objeto de cuestionamiento por lo abarcador y opaco de su aplicación.  Vemos así que conceptos judicialmente creados, tales como de proximidad (adjacency) y nexo significativo (significant nexus) desarrollados en Riverside Bayview Homes y/o aplicados en Rapanos provienen de la inquietud judicial con la utilización de conceptos ambiguos y abarcadores.  Asi, vemos que en Rapanos, pp. 782, se señaló que para establecer jurisdicción sobre:

… [wetlands based on adjacency to a nonnavigable tributary], it must establish a significant nexus on a case-by-case basis. Rapanos, 547 U.S. at 782. Given the potential overbreadth of the Corps’ regulations, this showing is necessary to avoid unreasonable applications of the statute.

Rapanos expresó también como sigue:

The burden of federal regulation on those who would deposit fill material in locations denominated ‘waters of the United States’ is not trivial. In deciding whether to grant or deny a permit, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) exercises the discretion of an enlightened despot, … the average applicant for an individual permit spends 788 days and $271,596 in completing the process, and the average applicant for a nationwide permit spends 313 days and $28,915—not counting costs of mitigation or design changes.…” Rapanos v. United States, 547 U.S 715, 721 (2006).

Más recientemente, en Nat’l Asso. of Manufacturers v. Dept. of Defense, 138 S.Ct. 617 (2018), la Hon. Juez Asociada Sotomayor expresó como sigue:  “What are the “waters of the United States”? As it turns out, defining that statutory phrase—a central component of the Clean Water Act—is a contentious and difficult task.”  En State of Georgia v. Wheeler, No. 2:15-cv-00079, Order, Aug. 21, 2019, el tribunal determinó como sigue:

  1. … the WOTUS [2015] Rule’s definition of tributary extends federal jurisdiction beyond that allowed under the CWA;
  2. …just because adjacency can be a factor for jurisdiction under the CWA, that factor is not unlimited and is still subject to the limits of the significant-nexus test. With the exception of the 100-foot limit to certain waters, the WOTUS Rule’s definition of adjacent and neighboring waters fails to meet the significant-nexus test and would include jurisdiction over the remote and insignificant waters that concerned Justice Kennedy in Rapanos.
  3. … like the majority in SWANCC and the plurality in Rapanos concluded, the WOTUS Rule’s vast expansion of jurisdiction over waters and land traditionally within the states’ regulatory authority cannot stand absent a clear statement from Congress in the CWA. Since no such statement has been made, the WOTUS Rule is unlawful under the CWA.

El resultado neto es un área reglamentaria imbuida de un elevado grado de fluidez e incertidumbre.  Es en este territorio, apropiadamente, vista la medida, cenagoso que el P. de la C. 930 intenta navegar

III.      LA MEDIDA

 La Exposición de Motivos del P. de la C. 930 expresa que la ausencia de protocolos desarrollados por el Departamento de Recursos Naturales y Ambientales (DRNA) bajo la Ley Núm. 314 de 24 de diciembre de 1998 (“Ley Núm. 314”), “ha suscitado múltiples controversias donde diferentes sectores ha [sic] querido forzar determinaciones de humedales que responden a intereses muy particulares en ocasiones inconsistentes con los protocolos Federales.”  El Artículo 4 de la Ley Núm. 314, que el P. de la C. 930 no altera, lee como sigue:

Esta Ley no se entenderá como una limitación de los derechos y poderes de la Autoridad de Tierras para llevar a cabo los propósitos mencionados en la “Ley de Tierras de Puerto Rico”, Ley Núm. 26 de 12 de abril de 1941, según enmendada, ni tampoco se entenderá como una prohibición para llevar a cabo los trabajos necesarios para reclamar terrenos áridos mediante irrigación; o para llevar a cabo actividades agrícolas en terrenos que no requieran la desecación o destrucción de estos valiosos sistemas naturales.  (Énfasis suplido)

La Sección 1 de la medida propone la siguiente definición de humedal:

… aquellas áreas que presenten indicadores positivos a suelos hídricos, vegetación hidrofílica y un régimen hidrológico que resulta en la saturación o inundación de los suelos buena parte del año, que mantenga un nexo significativo con cuerpos de agua bajo la jurisdicción de la Ley de Agua de Puerto Rico según enmendada y que no estén cubiertas por una de las Exclusiones aquí incluidas(Énfasis suplido)

En su Artículo 6, la medida ordena al DRNA, como su resultado operacional:

…redactar un Reglamento que incluya protocolos específicos para la delimitación de humedales bajo la jurisdicción de esta Ley.  Para el desarrollo de dicho Reglamento el DRNA creará un comité donde participará el Departamento de Agricultura, la Autoridad de Tierras, la Junta de Planificación y la Oficina de Gerencia de Permisos.  El comité le solicitará asistencia técnica al Servicio de Conservación de Suelos, la Agencia de Protección Ambiental y el Cuerpo de Ingenieros del Ejército de Estados Unidos, el Servicio de Pesca y Vida Silvestre Federal, así como cualquier otra entidad gubernamental, privada y académica que sea pertinente. Se le otorga al DRNA un término de 1 año para que produzca dicho Reglamento.  El Reglamento deberá establecer un sistema de permisos complementarios al sistema existente bajo la Sección 404 de la Ley de Agua Limpia Federal. (Énfasis suplido)

El P. de la C 930 propone, en fin, el desarrollo de otro esquema de permisos, ausente una clara expresión de porqué es necesario y porqué el esquema actual basado en la otorgación de permisos bajo la Sección 404 del CWA es, en su aplicación a Puerto Rico, insuficiente. No olvidemos que los humedales en Puerto Rico están sujetos a las normas sobre calidad del Reglamento de Estándares de Calidad de Agua de Puerto Rico, agosto 2014, Anejo Procedimiento para la Implantación de la Política de Anti-degradación de la Junta de Calidad Ambiental, p. A-7. B., Actividades Reguladas por Permisos bajo la Sección 404 de la … [CWA] o la Sección 10 de la Ley de Ríos y Puertos (Descarga de Material Dragado o de Relleno).

La facultad de la Asamblea Legislativa para aprobar leyes debe encaminarse, según el mandato constitucional del Art. II, Sección 19 de la Constitución del Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico, hacia medidas “en protección de la vida, la salud y el bienestar del pueblo”.  El sistema de permisos de Puerto Rico se ha distinguido por un elevado grado de intervención o participación del estado sin que tal intervención haya redundado en la mayor protección de vida, salud y bienestar del pueblo.  En el presente caso, la medida no señala como propiciará la protección de la vida, la salud y el bienestar del pueblo del mandato constitucional.  Aunque nadie cuestiona la importancia de los humedales – aunque es importante expresar que no todos los humedales rinden los mismos servicios o valores y, por ende, deben ser objeto del mismo grado de protección[10], la medida no articula cuál es la justificación para establecer un nuevo y permiso para una sociedad agobiada por un sistema de permisos claramente inadecuado.

Segundo, y quizás más importante, la encomienda asignada al DRNA – establecer un sistema de permisos complementarios al sistema existente bajo la Sección 404 de la Ley de Agua Limpia Federal, es una de imposible cumplimiento en la medida que los parámetros actuales del sistema de permisos bajo la Sección 404, atado como está a la definición de lo que son aguas de los EEUU o waters of the United States, al día de hoy se desconoce.

Hemos visto que la medida identifica una serie de actividades de naturaleza agrícola o asociadas a ésta (por ejemplo, la construcción y mantenimiento de canales de drenaje y sistemas de riego, entre otros) que estarán exentas de las disposiciones de la propuesta ley “aun cuando presenten indicadores positivos a humedales”. Aparentemente, y es una de las interrogantes que nos interesaría esclarecer, la medida persigue eliminar escollos a la actividad agrícola en Puerto Rico que han resultado en la congelación de importantes propuestas para el cultivo productos de importancia alimentaria como el arroz.[11]  La identificación concreta de cuáles son esos llamados escollos no es parte de la medida.  El resultado neto puede ser una medida que no solucione esos llamados problemas no definidos de las actividades agrícolas, pero termine creando otro complejo y mal articulado esquema de permisos cuyos efecto detrimentales para el desarrollo de actividades de construcción de importancia para la tan necesaria generación de empleos y crecimiento económico del País creemos no requiere explicación.

  1. CONCLUSIÓN

En fin, la redacción de la reglamentación adicional propuesta, en este caso por el DRNA, solo resultará en crear escollos y complicaciones adicionales para el desarrollo de terrenos en Puerto Rico, ya sea para proyectos de naturaleza privada o pública.  Este será el resultado de un esquema reglamentario paralelo, y probablemente en conflicto, al fluido esquema federal vigente, y en proceso de cambio, bajo la reglamentación, guías y prácticas promulgada al amparo de la Sección 404 de a Ley Federal de Agua Limpia. Véase, Evolution of the Meaning of “Waters of the United States” in the Clean Water Act, Congressional Research Service, March 5, 2019, disponible en: https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/R/R44585), disponible en: https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/RL/RL33483 y Evolution of the Meaning of “Waters of the United States” in the Clean Water Act, March 5, 2019, CRS, disponible en: https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/RL/RL33483.

La medida propuesta añade otro escollo al desarrollo económico de Puerto Rico sin atender, asumiendo que ese sea su verdadero propósito, los obstáculos, no articulados que confronta la actividad agrícola en el País, como resultado de la situación jurídica vigente.  Por tal razón y los fundamentos antes expresado, la Asociación no respalda el P. de la C. 930.

Quedamos a disposición de la Comisión, para abordar cualquier pregunta o comentario al respecto:

Alfredo Martínez-Álvarez, Jr.

Presidente

Asociación Constructores de Puerto Rico

Lcdo. Patricio Martínez-Lorenzo
Chair

Comité Ambiental, Recursos Naturales y Energía

   

 

[1]Véase, 450 C.F.R  PART 230 – SECTION 404(b)(1) GUIDELINES FOR SPECIFICATION OF DISPOSAL SITES FOR DREDGED OR FILL MATERIAL (§§ 230.1 – 230.98);  PART 231 – SECTION 404(c) PROCEDURES (§§ 231.1 – 231.8); PART 232 – 404 PROGRAM DEFINITIONS; EXEMPT ACTIVITIES NOT REQUIRING 404 PERMITS (§§ 232.1 – 232.3)

[2] Véase,  33 C.F.R. PART 323 – PERMITS FOR DISCHARGES OF DREDGED OR FILL MATERIAL INTO WATERS OF THE UNITED STATES (§§ 323.1 – 323.6); PART 328 – DEFINITION OF WATERS OF THE UNITED STATES (§§ 328.1 – 328.5); PART 329 – DEFINITION OF NAVIGABLE WATERS OF THE UNITED STATES (§§ 329.1 – 329.16),

[3] Clean Water Rule:  Definition of “Waters of the United States”, 79 Fed. Reg. 63594, Oct. 24, 2014.

[4] Véase,  Intention to Review and Rescind or Revise the Clean Water Act, 82 Fed. Reg.12532, March 6, 2017.

[5] Definition of “Waters of the United States” – Recodification of Pre-Existing Rules, 84 Fed. Reg. 56626, Dic. 23, 2019

[6] EPA,  Navigable Waters Protection Rule – EPA and Army Sign the Navigable Waters Protetion Rule, disponible en: https://www.epa.gov/nwpr .

[7] “The terms:  (a) Jurisdictional waters. For purposes of the Clean Water Act, 33 U.S.C. 1251 et seq. and its implementing regulations, subject to the exclusions in paragraph (b) of this section, the term “waters of the United States” means:

(1) The territorial seas, and waters which are currently used, or were used in the past, or may be susceptible to use in interstate or foreign commerce, including waters which are subject to the ebb and flow of the tide;

(2) Tributaries;

(3) Lakes and ponds, and impoundments of jurisdictional waters; and

(4) Adjacent wetlands. … means areas that are inundated or saturated by surface or groundwater at a frequency and duration sufficient to support, and that under normal circumstances do support, a prevalence of vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soil conditions.  Wetlands generally include swamps, marshes, bogs, and similar áreas.”

(b) Non-jurisdictional waters.  The following waters are not “waters of the United States”;

(1) Waters or water features that are not identified in paragraphs (a)(1) through (4) of this section;

(2) Groundwater, including groundwater drained through subsurface drainage systems;

(3) Ephemeral features, including ephemeral streams, swales, gullies, rills, and pools;

(4) Diffuse stormwater run-off and directional sheet flow over upland; (5) Ditches that are not paragraph (a)(1) or (2) waters, and those portions of ditches constructed in paragraph (a)(4) waters that do not satisfy the conditions of paragraph (c)(1);

(6) Prior converted cropland;

(1) Adjacent wetlands. The term adjacent wetlands means wetlands that: (i) abut, meaning to touch at least at one point or side of, a paragraph (a)(1) through (3) water; (ii) are inundated by flooding from a paragraph (a)(1) through (3) water in a typical year; (iii) are physically separated from a paragraph (a)(1) through (3) water only by a natural berm, bank, dune, or similar natural feature; or (iv) are physically separated from a paragraph (a)(1) through (3) water only by an artificial dike, barrier, or similar artificial structure so long as that structure allows for a direct hydrologic surface connection between the wetlands and the paragraph (a)(1) through (3) water in a typical year, such as through a culvert, flood or tide gate, pump, or similar artificial feature. An adjacent wetland is jurisdictional in its entirety when a road or similar artificial structure divides the wetland, as long as the structure allows for a direct hydrologic surface connection through or over that structure in a typical year.

(2) Ditch. The term ditch means a constructed or excavated channel used to convey water.

(3) Ephemeral. The term ephemeral means surface water flowing or pooling only in direct response to precipitation (e.g., rain or snow fall).

(7) Artificially irrigated areas, including fields flooded for agricultural production, that would revert to upland should application of irrigation water to that area cease;

(8) Artificial lakes and ponds, including water storage reservoirs and farm, irrigation, stock watering, and log cleaning ponds, constructed or excavated in upland or in non-jurisdictional waters, so long as those artificial lakes and ponds are not impoundments of jurisdictional waters that meet the conditions of paragraph (c)(6);

(9) Water-filled depressions constructed or excavated in upland or in non-jurisdictional waters incidental to mining or construction activity, and pits excavated in upland or in non-jurisdictional waters for the purpose of obtaining fill, sand, or gravel;

(10) Stormwater control features constructed or excavated in upland or in non-jurisdictional waters to convey, treat, infiltrate, or store stormwater run-off;

(11) Groundwater recharge, water reuse, and wastewater recycling structures, including detention, retention, and infiltration basins and ponds, constructed or excavated in upland or in non-jurisdictional waters; and

(12) Waste treatment systems.

 

Dept of the Army, Environmental Protection Agency, The Navigable Waters Protection Rule: Definition of “Waters of the United States” (Pre-publication), Jan. 22, 2020, p. 323-325, disponible en:  https://www.epa.gov/nwpr/final-rule-navigable-waters-protection-rule.

[8] Timothy Cama, (2015, June 30), 27 States Challenge Obama Water Rule in Court, The Hil, disponible en: https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/246539-27-states-challenge-obama-water-rule-in-court.

[9] Rebecca Beitsch, (2019, Dec. 20), 14 States sue EPA over Rollback of Obama-era Water Rule, The Hill, disponible en: https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/475500-14-states-sue-epa-over-rollback-of-obama-era-water-rule.

[10] “Not all wetlands perform all functions nor do they perform all functions equally well. The location and size of a wetland may determine what functions it will perform. For example, the geographic location may determine its habitat functions, and the location of a wetland within a watershed may determine its hydrologic or water-quality functions …. Many factors determine how well a wetland will perform these functions: climatic conditions, quantity and quality of water entering the wetland, and disturbances or alteration within the wetland or the surrounding ecosystem.” Richard P. Novitzki, R. Daniel Smith & Judy D. Fretwell, Restoration, Creation, and Recovery of Wetlands Wetland Functions, Values, and Assessment, U.S. Geological Survey Water Supply Paper 2425, disponible en: https://water.usgs.gov/nwsum/WSP2425/functions.html .

[11] Lamentablemente, de ser ese el propósito que persigue la medida, éste no se logrará, ya que las actividades agrícolas exentas de la propuesta legislación local, continuarán sujetas a la legislación federal.  Puerto Rico responde a la Región 2 de la EPA.  Una mezcla de mal manejo de los procesos de permisos federales, ignorancia de las disposiciones federales aplicables y agresividad por parte de funcionarios de la Región 2 ha resultado en la paralización de proyectos agrícolas propuestos como, hace varios años, el de siembra de arroz en la región sur.

 

Descarga la ponencia -> PC 930 final

Conoce aquí lo que es la PC 930

 




Summary of the Steps Taken During 2019 – Government, Legislature and other Private Organizations

Dear Members,

We hope that you, your families, and your employees are well and safe. We live times of uncertainty that require us to be calm, organized and prepared with communications and emergency management plans.

We begin the new year with the commitment to serve you and continue working for the construction and housing industry. We are honored to have you as part of our Association, and you are the ones who make our work possible.

Here’s a summary of the steps we’ve taken during 2019 with the Government, the Legislature and other private organizations:

Legislative 

We moved forward in issues that are relevant for our membership, such as the following:

  • Puerto Rico Incentives Code: The Legislature addressed Puerto Rico Builders Association’s (ACPR) proposal to reinstate the housing investment requirement for eligible investors under Act 22. (The provision was part of the original law, but an amendment eliminated it later.) The requirement, advocated by the Association, was reinstated by the Treasury Commission, led by its President Antonio “Tony” Soto.
  • The ACPR succeeded including precise requirements for the eligibility of housing projects in the decrees of the said Code, to stimulate and incentivize the construction of new housing. Simultaneously, we addressed critical issues related to incentives applicable to tourism projects.
  • Construction Code: Our leadership addressed the Legislature’s concerns and worries about the effectiveness of construction codes to ensure the sound construction of housing and other buildings. Within this context, we consistently advocated the position that the Codes Revision Committee, along with OGPe, should revise the Code.
  • The ACPR asked the Legislature to adopt the received and paid method for the Sales and Use Tax (IVU) on construction materials. Doing so would help the liquidity and operation of construction subcontractors who are vital for the construction services chain, such as cement ready-mix companies and other sectors of the industry. This bill, which was vetoed by the current Governor, will be submitted again to the Legislative Assembly with the support of ACPR. We hope it will be considered favorably by madame Governor next time.
  • Funds for the DMO: The ACPR led the defense of a more significant allocation of funds for the DMO to strengthen the promotion of the visitor economy and tourism activity in Puerto Rico. We will resume this effort with new initiatives to help provide resources to this entity and strengthen the tourism promotion strategy.
  • The ACPR consistently and actively advocated, both in Puerto Rico’s legislative and executive branches and in Washington, D.C., for the repeal or amendment of Executive Order 2018-033, which increases the minimum salary of construction employees.
  • Housing Stimulus Program: We will continue to work for the extension of the Housing Stimulus Program, an incentive program that has been very useful for the new construction housing market.
  • The ACPR played a vital role in the adoption of guides and agreements with the federal government to help Puerto Rico receive CDBG-DR funds, to support the critical process of reconstruction and recovery. We met with government officials in the U.S. capital, Congressional leaders, and executives from the National Association of Home Builders, who have been supportive and great collaborators of our Association.
  • Department of Housing: During 2019, we held monthly meetings with officials from the Department of Housing to present our recommendations for the CDBG-DR Action Plan.
  • Condominium Law: we continued working for the approval of a Condominium Law in tune with today’s reality.
  • We insist on the need to address the problem of limited income and its effects on people’s access to decent and safe housing.
  • We established two partial scholarships for members to participate in the Guayacán Venture Accelerator.
  • In alliance with Bisnow, we organized two events to promote investment in Puerto Rico: one in Miami and the other one in New York City.
  • We collaborated with Enterprise Communities to create and publish a resiliency manual for the construction of new housing in Puerto Rico.
  • We anticipate that the Municipal Code will pass during the current, and last, Legislative session. The ACPR has already submitted recommendations about the measure, following the analysis and revision of the Legislative Committee led by attorney Cristian Bernaschina, and we’ve had conversations and meetings with the advisors and technical team of the Commission in charge. Nevertheless, if you have additional recommendations or comments, please send them to the Association for analysis and proper action. Once approved by the Senate, the House of Representatives will evaluate it.
  • Regarding the Civil Code, the measure should be approved soon in the Senate, following its approval in the House. About this measure, we ask you to urgently send your comments and recommendations to refer them to the Commission in charge, discuss them and defend them before the legislative bodies.

The ACPR has been actively testifying in public hearings and meeting with legislators.

  • We participated in a meeting with Governor Wanda Vázquez and with cabinet secretaries to share our concerns and recommendations regarding:
  • The Electric Power Authority, which can affect the projects of our associates and particular business situations of our members
  • Office of Management and Permits (OGPe)
  • Planning Board
  • Department of Economic Development and Commerce (DDEC)
  • Tourism Company

Also:

  • We’ve had regular meetings with officers from FEMA to collaborate and offer our recommendations during the process of reconstruction and address different situations that jeopardize this process.
  • We’ve met regularly with officers from HUD on the island to address the diverse needs of the industry and the rental housing market.

National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and Urban Land Institute (ULI) 

These two organizations, to which we are affiliated, have been outstanding collaborators in issues that affect our housing and our industry. They have immediately responded to our call to handle any situation that affects the industry. They have also been paying attention to situations that may impact Puerto Rico.

NAHB: Since the first day after the strike of Hurricane Maria, the NAHB has been in constant communication with the ACPR finding ways to collaborate with our reconstruction efforts, helping us to gain access to federal government officials and legislative leaders in Washington, D.C., and participating in meetings with HUD in Washington, D.C. In 2019 we carried out several tasks with their support.

Also, NAHB directors and officers visited the island on multiple occasions during the last two and a half years to learn about our needs and collaborate with the Association.

  • Creation of HBA of Puerto Rico Community Development Corp.:

Following the recommendations of the NAHB in 2017, we created HBA of Puerto Rico, a philanthropic arm of the ACPR, which has conducted several activities to help underprivileged communities and visit senior homes to bring happiness and events to this population.

  • High School Students Training Program:

Through HBA, we successfully developed a program to train high school students in construction-related jobs. The program took place from May through July in conjunction with the Department of Education, our partner Caribbean Project Management (CPM), and the Gypsum Board Institute. Nearly 300 students took the training and received a certificate that allows them to work in the construction industry on the island and in the United States. Of these students, 150 received the carpentry course certificate offered last summer.

ULI: Since ACPR joined ULI, the collaboration has been extraordinary, since they’ve made available to our Association their resources and services. Following a request from ACPR, ULI Southeast Florida/Caribbean works on a project to help rebuild communities in the town of Toa Baja and offer technical assistance focused on resilience and strengthening the local economy. We chose this municipality given the impacts it suffered due to hurricane Maria.

An international panel of experts visited the island twice during 2019 to provide follow-up to this project, which began thanks to the initiative of the ACPR. The Kresge Foundation and ULI Southeast Florida Caribbean sponsored the project.

Private Sector and NGO

The Puerto Rico Homebuilders Association established alliances and collaborations with other private sector organizations to address issues that impact our sector. These include the tax on inventory and the minimum wage increase (Executive Order OR-2018-33) to $15 for construction workers at government reconstruction projects. We have joined or established alliances with the following:

  • The Private Sector Coalition (which has nearly 30 member organizations)
  • Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce
  • General Contractors Association
  • Engineers and Surveyors Guild
  • ARPR
  • AIA
  • Habitat for Humanity of Puerto Rico
  • Puerto Rico Architects and Land Surveyors Guild
  • Puerto Rican Concrete Association

Our work resulted in HUD’s requirement to eliminate Executive Order 2018-033.

Education

We have actively promoted seminars and educational workshops for our members and industry professionals. In 2019 we held 12 workshops that focused on the following topics, among others: CDBG-DR Funds, Construction Codes, Amendments to the Joint Regulation, construction costs, appraisals, and Opportunity Zones. Many of these seminars were eligible for continuing education credits for engineers, architects, and real estate brokers.

Dues increase:

We count on you to continue doing this work and face our current challenges.

The Board of Directors approved an increase membership dues starting on January 2020, as detailed below:

  • Builders: from $3,400 to $3,450
  • Associates: from $2,200 to $2,250
  • Professionals: from $1,900 to $1,950

We will use the additional funds to cover the increase in the ULI membership, which came into effect in August 2019.

We thank you for your support, and we pledge to continue working for the welfare of our industry, our members, and Puerto Rico.