Visalia Times- Delta: "Construction Slow In Tulare, CA

Residential construction permits are off to a slow start in the county’s two largest cities this year.

Visalia is reporting 102 permits issued for single residential home through March. Last year, Visalia issued 509.

Multi-family permits are also slow in the early going of 2016. Until March, Visalia had issued just six permits for 12 units. During 2015, Visalia had 34 permits for 106 units.

Tulare is not reporting much better numbers.

So far, Tulare has issued 59 single-family resident permits and no multi-family residential permits.

During 2015, Tulare issued 278 single-family residential permits and seven for commercial developments. There were no multi-family residential permits.

“We are not seeing a lot of new anything,” said Jeff Killion, Tulare Planning Commission chairman. “There’s not a lot going on.”

Mike Lane, Building Industry Association of Tulare and Kings Counties, Inc. executive officer, said the two cities are good examples of what’s going on in the area.

“From what I can see, [2016] is keeping with 2015, maybe slightly behind,” he said.

Single-family residential permits are essential in the construction industry, Lane said.

“That’s kind of a benchmark,” he said. “It’s the most consistent.”

Multi-family residential permits vary widely, Lane said.

Visalia permit numbers for the 2015-2016 fiscal year are also lagging when compared to the previous year. At the three-quarter mark, Visalia has issued 349 single-resident permits, 141 permits below last year.

It’s much more active on the multi-family category. The 2015-2016 fiscal-year multi-family residential permits have already matched the previous year’s total.

“Multi-family residential permits balance out [the totals],” Lane said.

For commercial development, Visalia has issued 13 permits during 2016, netting an estimated value of $4.2 million. Last year, Visalia issued 47 permits that were valued at $24.4 million.

Lane said water connections have played a role in the number of construction permits issued. Developers have been asked to complete water studies as part of their project, which adds cost.

Killion agreed.

And infill might just be the way to go for new development.

Killion said the Tulare Planning Commission has advocated for infill, construction in previously-built areas.

“For years, the planning commission has felt it’s smart growth,” he said. “We have always been in favor of infill.”

And if costs continue to add, developers will seek the infill alternative, Killion said.

“You will see more infill take place,” he said.

The slowdown in the number of building permits issued is a concern, Killion said. The worry slightly diminished by the completion of some of the previously-issued projects.

San Joaquin Valley Home announced 71 homes were sold at a development near Mooney Boulevard and Kern Avenue. Home sales began in March 2014 and ended in December 2015.

“We expected Catalina to sell out quickly because it’s one of the few offerings in this area that provides quality, low-maintenance homes for busy families at an affordable price,” said Joe Leal, San Joaquin Valley Homes co-founder. “Catalina is a beautiful neighborhood that has been well-received.”

San Joaquin Valley Homes is now building the Sedona subdivision, located east of Mooney, south of Cross Avenue.

From permit to construction

Killion said the numbers released are just that — numbers.

Lane agreed. Permits are valid for six months and can be renewed.

But it takes activity to make a permit a project, Killion said.

“Until they start putting on the foundation, it’s not a project,” he said. “Until they break ground and start pouring cement, it’s not a project.”

Lisa Walker