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Economic picture mixed

City report: Building permits up, defaulted homes down

Posted: February 16, 2010 10:05 p.m.
Updated: February 17, 2010 4:55 a.m.
The city's economic snapshot for December 2009 shows a market trying to right itself during the Great Recession: More homebuilding permits were pulled and fewer homeowners defaulted in December than any month in the previous year, according to city documents released Tuesday.

"There are little spotlights of good," said Jason Crawford, the city's economic development director, citing an uptick in local filming activity. "But the bad news is still there as well."

Twenty-six building permits were pulled, up from two the previous December. These were mostly for two Valencia developments, Stetson Ranch and River Village.

"We're still not near the historic average but it was the most in a single month in the past year," Crawford said.

Another indicator of a leveling market is the unemployment rate.

December unemployment held at 7.4 percent for the second month in a row. That's still above the previous December's 5.8 percent, but lower than September and October 2009's 7.8 percent.

The number of defaulted homes fell 36 percent.

The filming industry proved to be a saving grace for the city in 2009. The economic impact of filming television shows and movies in the Santa Clarita Valley increased by 14 percent, Crawford said.

This translates to $22 million dollars infused into the city via retail, restaurant and hotel sales, Crawford said.

"That's huge to our economy," Crawford said. "That money is being spent at local businesses by location film companies. ... It's basically new money in our economy."

Hotel occupancy tax revenue was at its lowest point since Feburary and was lower than last December by 17 percent. The city collected more than $92,000 in revenues there.

Fourth-quarter sales tax revenue numbers weren't yet available, but revenue for the third quarter was down 13 percent from 2008 at $5.83 million.

The Santa Clarita Valley office vacancy rate peaked at 19.2 percent in December. The retail and industrial vacancy rates were 7.1 and 4.7 percents, respectively.


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