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An Increase In Building Permits Could Mean A Better Economy Ahead


There are signs the region’s economy could be on an upswing. The city of San Diego is seeing an increase in building permits.

— San Diego Development Services Department is a busy place these days. This is where people come to get started on the permitting process whenever they want to build something new. Brian Longmore sits in the middle of ringing phones, and bustling people. He owns a company that helps shepherd projects through the permitting process. His business is finally picking up again after a steep drop during the recession.

“Yeah, it was a big rollercoaster ride down. And then we stared realizing how slow it really was,” he said. “We were working four to five hours a day, four days a week. That was all we were getting. It was pretty tough.”

But in the last few months, activity has been making a slow climb back toward pre-recession levels. Longmore said he’s hired more staff to handle the influx of projects.

A report from Development Services shows revenues for 2010 were nearly $37 million, up from a low of nearly $33 million in 2008. Between January and March, 602 building permits were issued for multi-family housing projects. That’s an increase of 336 percent over the same period last year. Overall, dwelling permits were up about 167 percent.

Still, business isn’t back to the boom days of 2006 and 2007 when revenues topped $50 million. But University of San Diego Economics Professor Alan Gin said it’s an indicator of an improving economy.

“We’ve gotten some pretty good job growth, we’ve added almost 25,000 jobs compared to where we were last year,” he said. “So I think there’s a pick-up in business activity and as a result there’s an increase in permitting activity.”

That’s good news for people like Longmore who are looking forward to brisk business. He said there’s a sense of urgency in the office to get permits done so projects can get built construction crews can get back to work.

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