Gov. Alejandro García-Padilla signed an executive order Wednesday establishing a nine-member construction industry advisory board, at the behest of the sector, which seeks to work with the government to improve conditions to do business in Puerto Rico.
The governor made the announcement after reviewing the initiatives that his administration has put in place for the construction industry during his keynote speech at the swearing in and inauguration of the new board of directors of the Associated General Contractors of America.
The board will work with the private sector to analyze the socio-economic impact public policy decisions, laws and regulations — existing and proposed — that affect the industry.
“This commission will give the necessary institutional framework for flowing dialogue and consensus among the main components of its industry and government entities related to it,” García-Padilla said.
So far this term, the government has effected a number of initiatives to help stimulate the construction sector, which has been severely crippled by the protracted recession affecting Puerto Rico.
The list includes: extending the program to encourage buying new housing; creating a new subsidy program to help families who are not property owners buy social-interest housing; approving Law 151 to amend the Permits Law of 2009 and restructure, simplify and expedite processes; and extend the term of all building permit notices by two years, which means developers now have four years to start a project approved by the Permits Management Office.
The governor took the opportunity to announce that the Puerto Rico Planning Board will unveil the draft of the highly anticipated Land Use Plan, which has been in the works for a decade.
“The Land Use plan process has been and will continue to be democratic and inclusive. The [review] term will be no less than 90 days,” he said. “We’re committed to rigorously weighing the comments and recommendations arising from the process before passing the Land Use Plan into law.”
In an interview last year, Planning Board President Luis García-Pelatti vowed to have the draft ready by this month.
The Land Use plan has been written and re-written a number of times since it was first presented in 2004. The document seeks to finally define which land can and cannot be used for development, to somehow address the seemingly unstoppable wave of urban sprawl and protect the island’s natural resources. The land use plan is expected to identify flood-prone areas, farmlands and cultural sites.