A comparison of 2013 and 2012 reveals that total building permit values in the county were buoyed in 2013 by improved residential building numbers, which modestly outweighed a struggling nonresidential sector.
Monthly reports through 2013 had shown a seesaw in the permit activity compared with the year before.
In October, the county closed the calendar year-to-calendar year-gap to about 1 percent, with 2013 slightly on the losing end.
The gap grew back to 3 percent after November's numbers were released.
The Friday release of figures from McGraw Hill Construction and Dodge Research and Analytics showed that December proved to be the point at which 2013 finally outpaced 2012 -- by 6 percent -- in overall issued permit values.
The county issued in December roughly $430.6 million in building permits, compared with December 2012's output of $206.5 million.
That 6 percent increase for all of 2013 over the prior year doesn't paint the whole picture, though.
The value of permits issued for nonresidential building projects -- including office, retail, hotels, warehouses, manufacturing, educational facilities, health care, religious, government, recreational and other buildings not intended as living spaces -- decreased in 2013 by 15 percent.
About $1.69 billion in permits were issued around the county, compared with the roughly $1.98 billion issued in 2012.
It was the $1.6 billion in residential permits, reflecting a 43 percent yearly jump, that propped the overall numbers. In 2012, residential permits issued were valued at $1.12 billion.
The situation was similar statewide in that gains in residential building outpaced those made in nonresidential building, but notably different in that both sectors showed gains across the state.
A much more balanced overall increase throughout California was revealed in the report, marking the San Diego area's struggle to keep pace with the rest of the state in nonresidential building starts.
Permit values for nonresidential buildings were up 10 percent in 2013 across the state, while residential permit values were up 21 percent.