SLO County forecast urges more building: ‘What is economic development? Roof, roof, roof’

San Luis Obispo’s regional housing market is losing steam, according to economists — something that will have to be remedied if the region hopes to spur economic development in the future.

“What is economic development?” Beacon Economics founding partner Christopher Thornberg asked during the annual Central Coast Economic Forecast presentation Friday at the Alex Madonna Expo Center in San Luis Obispo.

His answer? “Roof, Roof, Roof.”

The forecast looks at the economic climate of San Luis Obispo County — including housing availability, jobs and industry — and analyzes where areas of potential growth are.

According to the forecast report, the San Luis Obispo County residential real estate market slowed in the second quarter of 2019 after “several years of sustained growth.” Total home sales, including existing single-family homes, new single-family homes and condos, declined by 7.8% compared with the quarter the year previous.

During that time, the median price of a single-family home in SLO County rose to $630,000, according to the report — markedly higher than the median home price in Santa Barbara or Monterey counties.

Instead, the local median home price is comparable to that of Los Angeles County, where a median priced home would go for about $629,000 in the second quarter of 2019.

Additionally, the local housing inventory remains tight.

According to the report, it would take about four months to exhaust the county’s remaining housing inventory if no new inventory was added.

“Housing stock in San Luis Obispo County has not kept pace with the long-term needs of the county’s growing population and employment base,” read the report. “If housing does not keep pace with the expansion of the labor market, the county will have difficulty attracting workers.”

The report also noted that the amount of housing used for vacation homes in the county has been steadily increasing, which could also present a “long-term challenge for growth.”

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Kaytlyn Leslie writes about business and development for The San Luis Obispo Tribune. Hailing from Nipomo, she also covers city governments and happenings in the South County region, including Arroyo Grande, Pismo Beach and Grover Beach. She joined The Tribune in 2013 after graduating from Cal Poly with her journalism degree.