L.A. building permits rebound after COVID-19

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The City of Los Angeles issued 16,157 building permits in March, the greatest number of since November 2019, according to data from the city’s Department of Building and Safety (DBS).

Not surprisingly, the lowest number issued was in April 2020, the first full month of the pandemic, when 6,644 permits were issued.

However, the construction business could likely be hitting higher levels if it didn’t feel some of the drag that is hampering the economy at large: labor shortages, inflation and sluggish supply chains, Patch.com reported on June 4. (In turn, Patch sourced information from xtown.la.)

Overall, in the first quarter of 2022, 42,461 building permits were issued in the city, reflecting a 17.8% increase from the same period in 2021.

“There are jobs I won’t bid on because I just don’t have the workers,” contractor Andy Howard was quoted as saying. “And it’s not just workers: It’s subcontractors all the way down the chain.”

While construction employment is increasing from pandemic lows, it isn’t enough to keep up with demand in Los Angeles, said Gary Mkrtichyan, president of Opus Builders, a Northeast Los Angeles-based residential and multi-family project construction business.

“There’s still a significant labor shortage,” he said. “We’re looking for more people to hire, but there aren’t people who are willing to work.”

Patch.com reported that one of the unanticipated side effects of the pandemic was a spike in a variety of home construction and improvement projects, including home pools and spas — with a record number of permits in these categories issued in the second quarter of 2021.

More specifically, in the first four months of 2022, the DBS issued 1,395 permits for projects in Woodland Hills, more than any other neighborhood in the city. Another 1,310 permits were issued in Sherman Oaks.

The city reported that 1,141 permits were issued in the first three months of the year for new buildings, aa 42% increase from the same period a year earlier, and a 1.5% rise over the first quarter of the pre-pandemic year of 2019.

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