Total building permits issued for single-family homes in California were down about 25 percent in April compared to April 2005, while total permits for the first four months of the year were down about 18 percent compared to the first four months of 2005, the California Building Industry Association announced today.

CBIA, a statewide trade association, represents about 6,600 businesses, including homebuilders, remodelers, subcontractors, architects, engineers, designers, and other industry professionals.

Permits were pulled for 11,119 single-family homes statewide in April, down 0.2 percent from March, while housing starts for condo and apartment (multifamily) projects totaled 3,476, which was down 37.6 percent from the previous month.

The number of building permits issued for multifamily projects was down 3.4 percent in April 2006 compared to April 2005, though the number of multifamily permits issued for the first four months of 2006 was up 12.2 percent compared to the first four months of 2005.

Overall for the month, builders pulled permits for 14,595 homes and apartments, according to statistics compiled by the Burbank-based Construction Industry Research Board, a nonprofit research center.

The number of single-family building permits dropped the most in Napa (-71.4 percent), Yuba City-Marysville (-61.3 percent), and Salinas (-60.7 percent) metro areas in the first four months of 2006 compared to the first four months of 2005, the association reported.

Meanwhile, single-family building permit activity increased the most in the Madera (21.5 percent), Santa Rosa-Petaluma (17.4 percent), and El Centro (15.9 percent) metro areas in the first four months of 2006 compared to the first four months of 2005.

“Continuing the trend of the past few years, multifamily activity continues to expand,” said Alan Nevin, CBIA chief economist, in a statement. “Most of the downturn in single-family permits is in more distant areas which have been accommodating the housing demands from those employed in the more urban areas.”

Nevin said the price of fuel may be a contributor to this, as buyers have to balance the dollar implications of distant travel to work versus living in a higher-density environment in the urban areas, according to the CBIA announcement.

Layne Marceau, 2006 CBIA chairman and a San Francisco Bay Area home builder, said in a statement, “The state’s population keeps growing, and housing is not keeping up with the demand. As a result, hard-working families are struggling to enter the housing market with little opportunity to achieve the American dream of owning their own home.”

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