Despite push, San Diego County built less housing in 2017

San Diego County communities approved slightly fewer homes last year despite increasing political pressure for more housing in California.

Cities and the county issued 4 percent fewer residential building permits in 2017 than the previous year, said the Real Estate Research Council of Southern California in a report released this week.

Overall building was down because of a reduction in apartment and condo construction, despite an increase in single-family home construction. The year started out with a major reduction in home building, but made up for it with an extremely busy fourth quarter.

Building permits for 9,580 new housing units were pulled in 2017. That’s down from 9,972 in 2016 and 9,975 in 2015. It’s up from a low during the Great Recession, when fewer than 3,000 homes were built in 2009.

The report comes as lawmakers seek new ways to get more homes built as a way to reduce housing costs. Two of the state’s leading candidates for governor, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, have said they want developers to build a half million homes a year for the next seven years, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Most of Southern California saw increased building permits in 2017, up 7 percent among the seven counties, compared to 2016. Only San Diego and Orange counties saw less demand.

Borre Winckel, CEO of the local Building Industry Association, said it was good San Diego County was down just 4 percent from the year before — he had predicted a bigger dip — but it didn’t make the news much better.

“We are still operating at very modest volumes,” he said. “Nowhere near what we need for housing people.”

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