What came about as an idea to expand their business, Arktana is bringing product to the people— quarantine style.

“We’ve worked through this pandemic as best we can but we needed to do something different before we get to Phase 2,” said Ann Matthews, owner of Arktana.

So, what is it?

The party requires an enthusiastic leader who lets Arktana deliver their products to their driveway or backyard.

Once the store’s live event begins, these quarantine pods can touch and feel product while team Arktana livestreams the event at their store.

“It gives our customers the opportunity to touch and feel product during the live feed and order on the spot through the website: www.arktana.com and if the item happens to be on the rack at that time they can take it home.”

It’s an idea that is starting off with a bang. The next watch party is scheduled for Friday at 5:30.

Tune in a their Facebook page to watch!

If you’d like to host your own watch party, contact Ann at ann@arktana.com

TUMWATER, WA — Washington businesses that decide to open or operate in direct violation of Gov. Inslee’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order may be cited and fined for unsafe workplace conditions under emergency rules filed today by the state Department of Labor & Industries. L&I filed these new rules at the direction of Inslee.

”The closure order and the Safe Start Plan to reopen businesses are in place to keep workers and the public safe and to prevent the spread of the easily transmissible coronavirus,” said L&I in a statement today.

The emergency rules take effect immediately. They give the Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) the authority to cite businesses for being open or for operating in a way that is purposely defying the phased-in approach and, as a result, putting their workers at risk.

“We’re all in this together, and most businesses are doing the right thing for our state and our communities. Unfortunately, there are some that are choosing not to,” said L&I Director Joel Sacks. “The coronavirus is a known workplace hazard and businesses must follow the requirements to keep their workers and the public safe.”

Protecting Worker Safety

L&I said they will work with the state Emergency Operations Center to take in and respond to complaints about businesses that are operating illegally. If employers are found to be defying the Governor’s order, they’ll be informed and directed to close or adjust operations immediately. If they do not, they’ll face a workplace safety citation that could carry a fine of nearly $10,000 or more.

Along with contacting businesses by phone and in writing, L&I will perform in-person spot checks on some of the businesses to make sure they are following through and complying with the Safe Start requirements.

Notably we are in uncharted times — and economically speaking — very uncertain times. Statistically, the housing market in February 2020 over last year was even, however, sales will be noticeably be down during the months of April and May, which is due to the government-imposed lockdown, and not the normal economic cycle. With the economy shut down we will get negative figures on some of the activity.

Local home prices have still been rising — the economy was very strong before the COVID-19 — and unemployment has spiked, but this is temporary. Once everything is open again, you will see most businesses back at full speed and see people going back to work therefore unemployment will drop and people will get back to work.

The bigger hit like the cruise lines and the airlines will be the hardest and slowest to recover from this pandemic. People fear we are going to have a housing market crash again, and it is very easy to presume, however, when you look at the2008 situation it was completely different then.

WHY?

Well, the facts are:

  • The mortgage industry structure of loans is now completely different, and housing lenders are not giving the subprime loans to anyone anymore. There are strict lending guidelines in place to prevent this.
  • This time people must really qualify now to get a loan.
  • Homebuilders overbuilt back then, too, and now there is an industry shortage of homes. In fact, there has been a shortage for some time for both new homes and resale.
  • During the pandemic, residential construction was halted, and fewer homes were listed, which has created even more of a shortage. We do not expect the mortgage interest rates to blow up, either.
  • The Federal Reserve went all in back in 2008/09, and it took them eight months to reduce the rate.
  • This time they went in all at once and they reduced the rates altogether.
  • Homeowners are sitting on wealth. There has been a great appreciation for homeowners over the last three years. Even if there is a five percent price correction in the housing market, most homeowners will absorb that. If there is a decline it will be very temporary, even as we are in an inventory shortage this is still healthy for homeowners.
  • Buyers and sellers are sitting waiting for the economy to be opened once that happens I see a surge in listing inventory and buyers will be back out shopping for a home, then it will even back out in the following months to a steady strong Clark County real estate housing market.
  • Even though home prices have risen, the interest rates are historically low, so still affordable for buyers.
  • Buyers will continue to move to affordability, benefiting mid-sized markets.

We came into this in a strong market and I believe there is great cause for optimism coming out. I hope this gives you an insight on the real estate market. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to me anytime or visit www.clarkcountyrelocations.com

Written by Louise James

Housing
Louise James shows the new way finder signs in downtown Camas.

Gov. Jay Inslee issued guidance today for partially resuming the dine-in restaurant and tavern industry for counties granted variance under the Safe Start Phase 2 recovery plan laid out last week.

Through the Washington “Safe Start” plan, more businesses and activities will re-open in subsequent phases with adequate safety and health standards in place. Each phase will be at least three weeks — metrics and data will guide when the state can move from one phase to another. 

Through the Safe Start approach, counties with a population of less than 75,000 that have not had a new case of COVID-19 in the past three weeks can apply for a variance to move to Phase 2 of “Safe Start” before other parts of the state. County variance applications will be approved or denied by the secretary of the Department of Health. Eight counties have received the variance. 

For counties granted variance to move to Phase 2, restaurant operations may resume with limitations after meeting specific criteria, effective May 11, 2020.

“No restaurant or tavern may operate indoor or sit-down services until they can meet and maintain all requirements, including providing materials, schedules and equipment required to comply,” the guidance states. 

Guidance documents: 

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McKean Smith Law Firm, with offices in Vancouver and Portland, offers arbitration and mediation services that are tailored to deal with the current COVID-19 restrictions.

“We have all experienced the effects that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on all businesses and the legal industry alike,” said Collin McKean, co-founder of the firm. ”With the recent closures of county courts and with many hearings and trials being rescheduled, the ability for the court to take part in any arbitration matters may be limited for the unforeseeable future.”

McKean and attorney Deanna Rusch are available on short notice for mediation and arbitration, with secure hosted remote videoconferencing and document collaboration capabilities, including arbitrating any hearing that the court is unable to handle based on court limitations. They offer:

  • Virtual meetings from the convenience of your own office space;
  • Private break-out sessions during mediation;
  • Document collaboration during mediation;
  • Arbitration recording; and
  • Electronic signatures using Adobe Sign.

Fees for Deanna’s mediation or arbitration services may be reduced where participants have lost their jobs or are first responders.

Questions?  Email them at clientservices@mckeansmithlaw.com, or call them at 360-502-7022.

Given the COVID-19 pandemic, with most people confined to their homes, you probably haven’t seen the long-planned Downtown Camas Signs program become a reality.

“We have been wanting way-find signs for years,” said Carrie Schulstad, Executive Director of the Downtown Camas Association (DCA). ”Last year there was a little extra funding through downtown maintenance, and so we reached out to businesses to see what we could do with those funds. The way-finding signs are what stuck. We did a collaborative effort, and it’s an example of how Main Street works. The merchants all paid their signs, but the city paid for the poles and the installation. The end result is stunning!”

The DCA coordinated the project with all the local merchants.

A total of eight poles and 40 signs for downtown retail stores and restaurants were constructed and placed a few weeks ago. In addition, there’s a mill town collage, which is covered in plastic, and will be unveiled when society reopens. It was supposed to be unveiled April First Friday.

A few signs have to be re-done and will be installed soon.

“We are expanding the vibrancy of downtown Camas to 3rd and 5th streets and to all the side streets. It’s been a challenge because those streets don’t have all the electrical infrastructure that 4th Avenue does,” said Schulstad. “These signs help people know what stores are on these other streets. It creates awareness.”

And, of course, the timing of this is the great irony. When businesses re-open they will see a nice addition to downtown.

“We look forward to seeing everyone back as soon as it’s safe to do so,” said Suzanne Ferguson, owner of Juxtaposition, which is a brand-new furniture store. “The signs are beautiful.”

Wendy DelBosque, who manages Natalia’s Cafe, says the new signs add a nice touch to a “beautiful downtown.”

Signs
On the corner of 4th and Dallas.

Washington’s Republican state lawmakers have released a plan designed to re-open businesses and society, in general. The group said more than 230,000 small businesses across Washington were shut down March 25 by order of Governor Jay Inslee.

”To the people employed by small businesses I would contend that all business is essential,” said State Senator Ann Rivers. “Union workers get to work doing the same job that non-union workers aren’t able to do. If you’re in a union, the government says you can work in construction, if not you can’t work. This makes no sense. The most important reason why we’re doing this now is that we can’t wait until May 4 and expect to flip a switch and get businesses back up and running. I feel these businesses can keep people safe while operating. The Governor isn’t giving them the professional courtesy that businesses deserve.”

Rivers said Oregon and California’s COVID-19 rate of infection and death toll were lower, per capita, than Washington, and they’ve managed to keep construction running, golf courses open, car sales operating, as well as recreational fishing.

“Our $3 billion dollar rainy day fund will only cover a fraction to compensate for the loss of business revenue this quarantine has caused,” said Rivers. “Inslee isn’t moving at all on designating private construction as essential. Even the Democrats are getting frustrated that the Governor isn’t doing that. He’s not following the lead of Governors in Oregon and California. Our state economy can’t take this much longer, and we also need to keep protecting the elderly and physically vulnerable. We can re-open our economy and keep people safe. Let’s have faith in our citizens to be responsible.”

Republicans in both chambers worked together and are united in this plan.

”I think some movement is necessary,” said Representative Larry Hoff. “We are looking at three big challenges. There’s the health challenge, the emotional challenge, and the economic challenge. The governor is overlooking two of those challenges, and he needs to start listening to the people. There’s no argument that he’s not listening. There is a business revitalization committee forming and there are Democrats on that group that state we need to get this state moving again. We can start again with these safeguards. Why can’t be build a house? Why can’t people go fishing? I’m shocked he’s not listening to us. He’s not injecting common sense to allow these decisions. It’s time we do something that is a positive for the state. Governor Inslee is too concentrated on eradicating this virus before we make economic gains.”

The plan states the following:

“While the executive branch does not classify these employers as essential, Republican legislators recognize the value of these businesses because of the families they support, communities they serve, and economic activity they generate. We recognize how these employers have already suffered from being forcibly closed and how offers of government assistance are no substitute for reopening.

“Early action by state government has protected public health in the face of this pandemic. We believe the executive branch and legislative branch also must take early action to minimize the economic damage associated with the COVID-19 emergency while the public-health effort to defeat the virus continues. Families and communities need our economy to recover as quickly as possible, as do the Washingtonians who benefit from public services and programs made possible by the private sector.

“The GOP proposes three sets of actions to enable the safe restart of Washington’s economy and promote its continued recovery overthe long term. The earliest of these would focus on sectors that can return to safe operations with minimal risk to workers or customers, while giving hope to employers statewide that they will be able to follow suit.”

Construction
Housing construction is on hold.

Republican legislators recommend these immediate actions:

  • Convene a Restart Task Force comprising legislative leaders, relevant executive-branch directors and representatives of the business and organized-labor communities. This group will chart a course toward allowing all Washington businesses to reopen, on a phased or limited basis as necessary, with COVID-19 protections for workers and customers in place.
  • Fully disclose the “metrics” that must be met before the business-closure order can be lifted or amended. Knowing the standards will allow the people of Washington to act accordingly.
  • Deliver on the massive testing capabilities promised by state health officials ahead of the business-closure order. Direct the appropriate state agencies to acquire antibody tests and work with employers to screen workers. Workers found to have the antibodies resulting from the COVID-19 infection will be immediately eligible for employment.
  • A moratorium on all state-agency rulemaking not related to the current crisis. Rules are important, but at a time when many businesses are simply trying to survive, the making of new rules seems less than essential. Relief from rulemaking goes hand-in-hand with relief from taxes.
  • Interface with the governor’s Business Recovery Legislative Task Force and be prepared to support recommendations that are achievable, measurable and complementary.
  • Exempt small businesses from paying sales and B&O taxes for one year.
  • Offer state-government assistance to the many small businesses in Washington that do not qualify for federal emergency-assistance programs.
  • Allow operations to resume in economic sectors that fit one or more of these criteria: low-risk, personal health, environmental protection, aid to elderly/physically challenged, alternate quarantine locations, assisting businesses with tax-related requirements, or property protection. Examples are auto dealers, solo landscape services, car washes, remodeling companies/contractors, residential construction, hairdressers/barbers, flower shops, RV parks, dentists, installers of home/commercial security systems, and accountants/tax preparers.

The GOP legislators recommend these actions be taken by the Legislature at its next opportunity:

  • Forgive first-quarter small-business B&O taxes for 2020 and allow deferral of remaining quarterly taxes to the end of 2020. It makes more sense for state government to assist employers through this difficult time, so they can return to becoming regular taxpayers, then to see employers fail and drop off the tax rolls completely.
  • Forgive payments related to unemployment insurance, workers’ compensation and paid family leave for April 2020 through the month that the business-closure order is lifted or amended, as appropriate.

They also recommend these actions be taken within 6-12 months of the lifting of the business-closure order:

  • Increase the small-business tax credit to exempt businesses with annual gross receipts of an amount to be determined.
  • Business-tax reporting and payment deferral for B&O, sales, and use tax.
  • A year-long holiday from the state’s unemployment insurance social-cost tax, with the option for an additional one-year reduction in the social-cost tax. Timing would depend on the condition of the state UI trust account (which may shrink despite federal-funding backfill).
  • Sales-tax holiday(s) to help jump-start business activity statewide: These would be aligned with known shopping promotions (e.g. back to school, Black Friday, Cyber Monday) and last for several days. Although state tax collections would be reduced, B&O collections would likely increase.
  • Aid regarding workers’ compensation premiums: Extend L&I’s Employer Assistance Program for small businesses for all of 2020. Direct L&I to determine whether it has reserve funds to forgive some premium payments for small businesses with deferrals or payment plans per COVID-19.
  • Waive state minimum-wage increase for 2021: With the minimum wage being tied to CPI and speculation that there may be a decrease in the CPI, hold any future inflationary adjustments to the state minimum wage until the index exceeds the January 2020 level.

CAMAS, WA – Today, the City of Camas announced that after a two-week construction stoppage, it will proceed with the Lake-Everett Roundabout and four other essential public projects: improvements to Brady Road, construction of the 18th Avenue Reservoir, construction of the Lacamas Creek Pump Station and improvements at the Wastewater Treatment Plant. All are authorized under Governor Inslee’s original March 23, 2020, Stay Home, Stay Healthy proclamation.

All contractors, consultants and City employees are required to follow COVID-19 safety precautions and guidance provided by Labor & Industries (L&I) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) while on the construction site. Noncompliance may result in the temporary suspension of work. To meet the requirements, several changes have been made:

  • Contractors have expanded and improved their own COVID-19 Response Plans in accordance with CDC, OSHA and L&I guidance and recommendations for the type of work being performed.
  • Contractors’ plans are being reviewed by a certified industrial hygienist who not only has expertise in COVID-19 and illness prevention, but also in job-site safety planning and prevention. Contractors must submit final plans prior to starting work.
  • All staff inspectors, project managers, consultants and subconsultants have received training from the industrial hygienist on the contractor’s plan, their own protection and COVID-19 compliance.
  • The City has designated an experienced construction inspector to serve as a COVID-19 safety inspector who will visit job sites, monitor safety and check COVID-19-procedures daily.

The City of Camas will continue to track all COVID-19 news and updates and will react accordingly on all projects. For an up-to-date listing of changes to City programming and operations during the COVID-19 crisis, the public is encouraged to visit www.cityofcamas.us/ourcommunity/covid-19.

For full Lake-Everett Roundabout project details and ongoing construction updates, the public is invited to visit www.cityofcamas.us/lakeroadconstruction. Information on other capital projects is available at http://www.cityofcamas.us/projectsalerts.

Camas, WA — Camas Parks & Recreation is cancelling the annual Camtown Youth Festival at Crown Park in Camas on Saturday, June 6, 2020. Due to the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak and considering the health and safety of our event participants, the decision has been made to cancel this year’s on-site park event.

“We know that our community is eager to gather and engage in many of the wonderful events and activities (such as Camtown) that our city has to offer. We also know that it will only be a matter of time until we can come together for enjoyment, whether it’s to attend a concert, sporting event, festival, or a fundraiser,” says Krista Bashaw, Special Events Coordinator for the City of Camas Parks & Recreation. “We have future events in our sights and continue to plan for those, so that when the gathering green light is given, we’ll be ready to go with many of the great events our community is used to and ready for.”

Stay home. Stay healthy.

For information on any of the City of Camas events, contact Camas Parks & Recreation at kbashaw@cityofcamas.us

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CAMAS, WA – Earlier this week, the City of Camas Finance department rolled out new ways for residents in arrears and small businesses of fewer than 50 employees to ease the burden of utility payments. Today they announce an additional COVID-19 promotion called “Support Local & Save,” aimed at lowering residential utility bills while supporting Camas merchants.

The new program, which begins April 11, is based on the City of Newberg, Oregon’s Support Local Challenge. Here’s how it works:

  • Residents are encouraged to make purchases from Camas merchants in the downtown area and throughout the city.Eligible purchases include gift cards, food, goods and services.
  • Residents save their receipts showing the business name, date and amount of purchase.
  • Residents may submit to City of Camas a total of $125 in receipts for a total savings of $75.
  • When they have a total of $25 in receipts (this could be one receipt or multiple), they are eligible to receive $15 off their utility bill.
  • Residents can then email a scan or photo of the receipts to finance@cityofcamas.us; mail them to City of Camas Finance Department, 616 NE 4th Ave., Camas WA 98607; or drop them in the City Hall drop box.
  • All receipts must be accompanied by the name on the utility account, account number, address and contact phone or email.
  • Support Local & Save will begin on Sat., April 11, and run through May 4, the current end date of Governor Inslee’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy proclamation; the City will reassess the program’s duration as the COVID- 19 situation evolves.

“I challenge everyone who can to ‘Support Local & Save,’” rallied City of Camas Mayor Barry McDonnell. “Camas merchants are doing a great job of coming up with inventive ways to offer gift cards, food, goods and services that allow residents to stay home and stay healthy. Now we can shop, dine and save on utilities.”

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The City will continue to monitor feedback from residents and businesses, as well as the guidance of public agencies, to determine future modifications and support mechanisms. For an up-to-date listing of changes to city programming and operations during the COVID-19 crisis, the public is encouraged to visit www.cityofcamas.us/ourcommunity/covid-19.

Members of the public who have a need or concern may contact administration@cityofcamas.us or 360-834-6864. For assistance with errands, food, supplies, and more, residents may call the City of Camas Resource Helpline, 360- 382-1300, Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.

For questions about the program, please visit www.cityofcamas.us/supportlocal or contact the City of Camas Finance Department at finance@cityofcamas.us or 360-834-2462, Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Finance staff will also be on hand to answer questions and enroll residents currently in arrears and small businesses in incorporated Camas with fewer than 50 employees.