[BIASC] – The new year brought in a mixed bag of housing production around Southern California, with three counties seeing sharp increases compared to January 2011 and three others reporting significant declines, the Building Industry Association of Southern California reported Thursday.
But according to the Construction Industry Research Board, which compiles the monthly reports of building permit activity around the state, January often sees a sharp drop off from December’s numbers and doesn’t necessarily indicate how the rest of the year will go.
Across the six-county region from El Centro to Ventura (excluding San Diego County), a total of 840 building permits were issued by cities and counties in January, down 64 percent from December 2011 and down 16 percent from last January. The main reason for the decline from December was the sharp drop-off in apartment projects that got under way. Just 294 multifamily permits were pulled, compared to 1,676 the previous month.
On a county-by-county basis, increases were reported in Imperial, Riverside and Ventura counties, while Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino counties saw fewer permits issued.
Bob Yoder, this year’s BIASC president and a division president with Shea Homes, said builders are cautiously optimistic that the new-home market will improve slightly this year, but that production is still far below normal levels.
“Homebuilding must finally rebound in order for the state’s economy to begin accelerating out of the Great Recession,” Yoder said. “Builders are bringing innovative new floor plans to market that reflect what Southern Californians have told us they want in a new home, and competitive prices and interest rates mean these homes are more affordable than they have been in years. The BIA will continue working with policymakers across the region to help ensure we can provide the range of homes that area residents want.”
Demonstrating how volatile January was, the 134 permits issued in Imperial County was the third-highest monthly total there in the past four years, while Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties reported their third-lowest totals in the same timeframe. Just 239 permits were issued in L.A. County and only 60 were pulled in San Bernardino County.
On the other hand, the 222 permits in Riverside was more than the number pulled during six months last year and the 31 in Ventura County was better than reported in eight months in 2011.
Among area jurisdictions, Los Angeles ranked first with 112 permits issued, followed by El Centro with 73, Corona with 67, Irvine with 63 and Calexico with 52. Significant multi-family projects fueled the growth in the two Imperial County cities.
BIASC is a non-profit trade association representing nearly 1,000 member companies in the housing industry, construction trades, and affiliated businesses throughout Southern California.