Single-family housing starts, as measured by building permits issued, plunged 59.8 percent in February compared to the same month last year, the California Building Industry Association trade group reported this week, and total housing starts dropped 27.9 percent.

CBIA reported 2,540 total single-family building permits issued in February, compared with 6,326 permits issued in February 2007, according to building-permit data supplied by the Construction Industry Research Board, a nonprofit research center.

Multifamily building-permit activity, meanwhile, rose 35.8 percent year-over-year in February, according to the report, with 4,315 multifamily permits in February 2008.

Single-family permit activity dropped 5 percent in February 2008 compared to the previous month, while monthly multifamily building-permit activity rose 112.2 percent compared to January.

The increase in multifamily construction was expected because of an increased demand for apartments, said Alan Nevin, CBIA chief economist, in a statement.

He also said that federal actions to increase the conforming loan limit and reduce the federal funds rate could "gradually induce activity in new-home production."

The Los Angeles metro area led in permit activity with 1,635 housing permits issued in February, followed by the Riverside area with 973 and the Anaheim area with 906, according to the report.


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