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SCVNews.com | BIA: August Housing Starts Rebound Sharply in L.A. County | 09-22-2011
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Major apartment projects in Los Angeles lead the way to a 361 percent jump from July figures
| Thursday, Sep 22, 2011

[Building Industry Association] – Residential building activity in Los Angeles County rebounded in August from the abnormally low levels recorded in July, the Los Angeles/Ventura Chapter of the Building Industry Association of Southern California reported Thursday.

According to data compiled by the Construction Industry Research Board (CIRB), there were 203 single-family permits pulled in L.A. County in August, up 36.2 percent from last month and 15.3 percent from August 2010. There were also 1,120 multifamily permits issued, up 711.6 percent from last month and 98.6 percent from last year. The total of 1,323 permits was up 361.0 percent from July and 78.8 percent from August 2010.

Year to date, there have been 6,696 permits issued countywide. While single-family permits are down 6.4 percent from 2010, multifamily permits are up by almost 45 percent.

L.A. City led the way in August with 42 single-family permits and 1,007 multifamily permits, including a 348-unit (25-story live-work) project at 900 S. Figueroa St. in downtown, a 298-unit apartment development on Eton Avenue in Warner Center, an 87-unit senior housing facility at Lanark Street and Sepulveda Boulevard in Van Nuys and an 88-unit, 8- story complex at Burton Way and San Vicente Boulevard near Cedars Sinai Medical Center.

Bell Gardens was second with 60 permits for an apartment complex on Clara Street, while Azusa ranked third during the month with 27 single-family permits and 19 multifamily permits. The unincorporated portions of L.A. County reported 38 single-family permits and no multifamily permits. No other jurisdiction issued more than 25 permits during the month.

In Ventura County, the CIRB data showed just six single-family and five multifamily permits were issued in August. However, after CIRB finalized its metro-area tables and statewide report, Oxnard reported it issued 544 multifamily permits in July and another 9 in August. That would bring the county’s year-to-date total to 835, well above the 358 for the same time period last year. The tables will be updated next month to reflect the actual totals.

The rebound in housing starts was reflected around the state in August, with total permits up 96 percent from July and up almost 30 percent from August 2010. At least part of July’s low totals was attributed to two costly new state building requirements – green building standards and mandatory fire sprinklers – that went into effect on January 1. Permits applied for late last year to avoid the higher costs involved in those state mandates had to be issued by the end of June, which probably led builders to pull permits earlier than they would have otherwise.

However, CIRB still projects that total production this year statewide will only total 46,700 units, the third-lowest level since accurate records began being kept in the 1950s. More than half of this year’s housing starts are expected to be multifamily projects, mainly apartments.

Holly Schroeder, the Chapter’s chief executive officer, said the rebound is good news for builders and the region’s economy, but warned the overall state economy is not likely to turn around until homebuilding gets back on track.

“One thing that could help make a lot of new-home projects financially feasibly would be for our cities, counties and school districts to reduce their developer fees, which average $50,000 or more per home – or at least to defer collecting the funds until the home is completed instead of with the building permit. These steps would help our members build more and help get the state’s economy moving again,” she said.

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