By Alison St John, KPBS
The number of building permits issued in San Diego County in the first quarter of this year could suggest a slowdown in construction of new homes. The head of San Diego’s Building Industry Association warns this would make affordable housing even harder to find.
Borre WInckel said 1,409 building permits were issued in the first three months of 2017 in San Diego. If you multiply that by four, a total of 5,636 new permits would be issued this year, considerably fewer than the 10,000 issued last year.
Winckel said even if permits pick up later this year, the numbers are a red flag at a time when the region needs more, rather than fewer, new homes to be built.
“If we look at the first quarter of this year, it looks like we could end this year at a substantive drop in building permits, maybe as much as 30 percent, and we should all be very worried about that,” Winckel said. “Because this goes directly to an issue that we are incredibly concerned about: which is the disappearance of the middle-class segment.”
Winckel said developers can not make middle class housing pencil out because of the high cost of government regulation, and voter resistance to new development. He said the high-end of the housing market is saturated and workforce housing is stagnant.
“That’s the new name for middle-class housing, is ‘workforce housing,’” he said. “That in essence has stopped, so if we don’t figure it out how to re-energize the supply of workforce housing, this area’s in trouble.”
Winckel said a coalition formed last year, “Housing You Matters,” is bringing environmental advocates together with affordable housing advocates and the building industry to work on strategies to address the lack of new and affordable housing in the San Diego region.