After falling to a five-year low in January, permits for multifamily housing sustained a second consecutive monthly gain in March, the most recent month for which information is available. There were 316 permits issued in March, nearly triple February's 115, which itself was double the 57 permits of January. That's the good news.
The bad news:
* This was the lowest March total in any of the last six years.
* It was the lowest total for any month during the 1986-90 period except for November, 1989, and December, 1990.
* It was the lowest January-March total during any of the last six years, 70% less than the comparable 1989 total, which was the second lowest for the six-year interim.
Contrasted with the first three months of 1990, there were fewer permits issued this year in 12 cities and the unincorporated areas of the county. The municipal declines in Orange, Irvine and Garden Grove were the most precipitous. There were increases in five cities.