Permits for L.A. Housing Decline
By DANNY KING
Homebuilders statewide are responding to record high home prices by ramping up construction, but activity in Los Angeles County does not appear to be following suit.
Statewide, permits for residential construction reached a 12-year high in the second quarter, according to a report from the Real Estate Research Council of Southern California.
More than 42,000 permits were issued in the quarter, up from 35,133 the previous three months and 41,014 in the second quarter of 2001. It was the highest figure since the second quarter of 1990.
But despite L.A. County home prices increasing 17 percent in the second quarter compared with the like period a year ago, permits for new construction are actually down.
Just 4,123 residential permits were issued in the April-June period, down 9 percent from the like period a year ago and 31 percent less than the 6,018 residential permits for Riverside County, whose population is one-sixth of L.A. County’s.
“There is less developable land in L.A. County than in Riverside,” said Michael Carney, director of the Real Estate Research Council of Southern California. “The entire Westside is developed, and even the San Fernando Valley is essentially built out.”
In all, Southern California’s seven counties totaled 21,100 permits, or half the state’s total. Since 1990, only second quarter 2000 recorded a higher residential permit figure than the most recent period. In addition to Riverside County, San Bernardino County saw significant activity; its 2,616 permits in the quarter was its highest total since 1990.
“It’s definitely a step in the right direction,” said Leslie Appleton-Young, chief economist at the California Association of Realtors. “(but) it’s not in the communities that are most lacking in affordable housing.”
The permit jump has been primarily in the form of single-family homes. Just 20 percent of the state’s second-quarter permits were for multi-family units.
“Developers have a very high probability of getting sued for those types of projects, and it’s very difficult to get those approved,” said Appleton-Young of the relatively low number of multifamily developments. “Where people can afford a detached home, that’s what they prefer.”