Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Solano near top in state for housing construction

By RACHEL RASKIN-ZRIHEN, Times-Herald staff writer

Single-family homes are sprouting like mushrooms in Solano County compared to virtually the rest of the state, according to the most recent figures from the California Building Industry Association.
Association spokesperson John Frithsaid the Vallejo-Fairfield region continues to be among the fastest growing in the state, despite a minor slowdown in July.

"Building starts were down 13 percent from June, but up 104 percent from last July," Frith said. "Looks like somebody started a pretty good-sized development out there."

Frith said overall, single-family home production is up almost 56 percent in the area in the first seven months of the year compared to the first seven months of last year.

"Solano County is one of the leading growth areas in the state this year, the reason being that land is still relatively affordable and available for development," Frith said.

The association's latest figures show new home production slowed slightly in July statewide, but that building permits for single-family homes remained more than 10 percent ahead of the first seven months of 2003.

Construction of multi-family homes condominiums and apartments has slowed locally and statewide, according to the association's numbers, with a nearly 38 percent drop statewide from June and a 12.3 percent decrease from July 2003. For the first seven months of this year, permits for multi-family homes were down 10 percent statewide. Multi-family housing starts in the Vallejo-Fairfield area were down 100 percent in July over June, and nearly 74 percent over last year.

However, total housing starts as measured by the number of permits issued through July, were up 4.7 percent from last year statewide. This keeps the state on track to exceed 200,000 housing units in a single year for the first time since 1989, according to association documents. The association also predicts production to exceed 200,000 in 2005. Total housing starts in the Vallejo-Fairfield area were up just over 25 percent.

Despite the record building, Steve Doyle, the association's treasurer/ secretary, says it's still not enough to meet the state's housing demands.

"While production continues to expand, the need for housing is so great that we are still not meeting the demand caused by a growing population," Doyle said. "This imbalance between supply and demand is the largest factor is the continuing increase in California's housing prices, and so long as demand continues to outstrip supply, we will continue to have affordability issues."

The association reports that California's new home market is thriving, with 15 of the state's 28 metropolitan area recording an increase in the total number of housing permits issued compared to 2003.

The association, a statewide trade organization representing more than 6,000 building industry professionals, considers building permits an accurate way to track housing starts in California because builders don't usually pull permits until they're ready to start construction due to the high cost of permits.

E-mail Rachel Raskin-Zrihen at or call 553-6824.

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