Slight downturn in building permits

"Tracking the number of permits issued for single-family homes in Kitsap County during any given year can be a reliable barometer for population trends and the strength of the local economy.That's one reason Kitsap County Department of Community Development staffers track the total number of permits, including single-family home permits, issued to citizens.The county so far this year has issued 613 single-family home permits, down 13 percent from this time last year, said Mark Grimm, a building department manager for the county.The total value of those permits, however, is equal to the value for single-family home permits registered at this time last year, Grimm added. Single-family permits are currently valued at just more than $61 million. By the end of the year, Grimm projected, that should rise to match the $75 million mark reached in 1999.Meanwhile, commercial building permits have shot up significantly over the last four years, according to a building permit data report prepared by the Department of Community Development and presented to the county planning commission.While the county issued 15 commercial permits in 1997 and 62 in 1998, 121 were issued in 1999. So far this year, 57 have been issued, more closely mirroring trends established two years ago.Last year was a great year for the county for a couple of reasons, Grimm said. First, the county commissioners passed the county's comprehensive plan in 1998, which made developers more confident of the rules in the county. Many of them, with projects on hold, went forward at that point.Grimm said the overall Northwest economy has been healthy.Sure, on the eastside, like in Redmond, they're going gangbusters, said Grimm. The boom in the economy hasn't affected Kitsap County nearly as well, but employment is up and it's looking better.Also, according to the report, total permit values have risen since 1997, up to between $115 and $116 million this year. "

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