Boosted by a major increase in apartment construction, statewide housing starts continued on an upward path during February and March, according to the California Building Industry Association.
The statistics are the last building permit data to be compiled by the Construction Industry Research Board, which after more than 35 years in operation is being taken over this month by the California Homebuilding Foundation.
San Diego County housing starts, as measured by permits issued, totaled 756 in March, up 293.8 percent from February when there were 192 permits issued, and up 107.7 percent from March 2011, when there were 364 permits issued.
Single-family permits totaled 114 in March, up 6.5 percent from February but down 47.9 percent from March 2011, when there were 219 permits issued.
There were 642 multifamily permits in March, a jump of 655.3 percent from February when there were 85 permits issued, and up 342.8 percent from March 2011 when there were 142 permits issued.
Statewide housing starts totaled 6,092 in March, up 73 percent from February and up 32 percent from March 2011. Single-family permits totaled 1,922 in March, up 26 percent from February and 5 percent more than March 2011. And multifamily permits shot up to 4,170 in March, more than double February’s total and up 50 percent from the same month a year ago. It was the largest monthly multifamily total since November 2002.
On a quarterly basis, single-family construction during the first three months of 2012 was 3 percent greater than the same period a year ago, multifamily permits were up 37 percent and total housing production climbed by almost 21 percent.
During the first quarter, single-family construction was highest in the Inland Empire counties of Riverside and San Bernardino; Los Angeles County; and the Sacramento region. By far the most multifamily production was in Los Angeles County, followed by San Diego and Orange counties.
CIRB projects that total production in 2012 will be 57,000 homes and apartments compared to the estimated 47,100 units built last year. That would still be the fourth-lowest annual production in the past 30 years and the second-lowest level in single-family construction.
Mike Winn, CBIA’s president and CEO, said the upward trend is encouraging but urged policy makers at the state and local level to continue working with homebuilders in order to spur economic growth and tax revenue.
“Homebuilding has to really get back on its feet before the state will see real economic growth, and with the number of foreclosures and other distressed sales still high, builders have to be able to compete on price,” Winn said.
“Unfortunately, high government fees and other costly restrictions often mean a project can’t get under way and will remain on the drawing board. State and local officials need to understand today’s market conditions and recognize that building more homes designed for today’s customers equals jobs, economic growth and increased revenue for government programs.”