Total starts of California’s single- and multifamily housing dropped 19.5 percent in March from the same period a year ago, the California Building Industry Association announced Tuesday.

According to data compiled by the Construction Industry Research Board, total housing starts, as measured by building permits issued, totaled 16,119 in March, down from 20,027 in March 2005.

In March, permits were pulled for 10,902 single-family homes statewide, down 25.8 percent from March 2005. Multifamily housing starts — condos and apartments — totaled 5,217, down 2.2 percent from March 2005.

Layne Marceau, 2006 CBIA chairman and a San Francisco Bay Area home builder, pointed out that even with extremely wet conditions in many parts of the state, total production for the entire first quarter is less than 8 percent below the robust numbers posted in 2005, which was the second-highest production year since 1989.

“The housing market has cooled from the levels of the past couple of years and builders are adjusting,” Marceau said. “We expect that once standing inventory levels are reduced we will see a stable and healthy market, and that 2006 will be a good year for home building around the state.”

The California Building Industry Association is a statewide trade association representing more than 6,500 businesses, including home builders, remodelers, subcontractors, architects, engineers, designers and other industry professionals. A recent study determined that home building generates approximately $60 billion a year to the California economy and creates an estimated 526,000 jobs statewide.

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