Biz Buzz: Housing permits still on the decline

Permits for new single-family and multifamily housing have slowed to a trickle in San Luis Obispo County, according to data from the Home Builders Association of the Central Coast.

A total of 15 permits was issued in January, compared to 18 in January 2009.

Last year, 372 permits were issued, down from 597 in 2008. The number of permits issued has declined each year since reaching a peak of 2,263 in 2004.

Since 1990, 27,646 permits have been issued countywide, with an average of 1,382 permits issued annually.

The unincorporated areas of the county saw the most permits issued (237) last year, followed by the city of San Luis Obispo (38), Paso Robles (34) and Pismo Beach (20). The cities of Atascadero, Grover Beach, Arroyo Grande and Morro Bay had 15, 12, 11 and five permits issued respectively.

Jerry Bunin, government affairs director for the Central Coast association, said the number of foreclosures on the market is slowing the pace of building, and more foreclosures are expected.

Depending on the type of unit, he said, it often doesn’t make sound financial sense for a builder to move forward because of the bargains that are out there in the home resale market.

Another issue for builders is the lack of credit, he said.

“Even if they had a qualified buyer or a project that made sense, it’s hard to get money to build it,” Bunin said.

The association is hopeful that construction will pick up later in the year.

“No one anticipated this level of downturn,” he said. “Builders are generally optimistic, and they keep hoping and working and trying to find something to keep them going, but it’s very difficult.”

— Julie Lynem

CASA announces four new employees

Court Appointed Special Advocates of San Luis Obispo County recently hired four new employees: officer manager Susan Graves, event coordinator Alissa Maddren, advocate supervisor Pete Skarda and volunteer support coordinator Alex Nguyen.

Graves has worked in the legal field for many years and as a vocational rehabilitation counselor; Maddren has many years of event planning experience; Skarda has experience in education and business management as well as three years as a volunteer advocate with CASA; and Nguyen is a Cal Poly student working through the AmeriCorps program.

— Julia Hickey

Gary Bayus, owner of Prestige Business Sales and Acquisitions in Pismo Beach, has been elected secretary and vice president of communications on the board of directors of the California Association of Business Brokers for 2010. The business brokerage association has more than 450 members.

— Julia Hickey