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Galt sees first housing permit application since April 2009

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Posted: Friday, September 14, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 6:17 am, Fri Sep 14, 2012.

A local developer's single-family home building permit has been approved in Galt, possibly signaling the resurgence of a poor housing market. It is the first permit submitted in the city since April 2009.

"We are excited to see some activity in the housing market," City Manager Jason Behrmann said. "We are reaching out to other home builders in Galt and hope that this will provide some momentum to home-building activity in Galt."

Last month, Emerald Park Company submitted a building permit application to build a new model home in the Creekside 2, Unit 2 subdivision. The project originally received Planning Commission approval in July to add three additional model home options.

The development is located at the city's southern boundary, north of Dry Creek, east of South Lincoln Way and west of Highway 99.

The subdivision was approved in 2003 and consists of 38 lots. Currently, there are two homes already built — one in 2006 and the other in 2007 — and the permit pulled for a third, according to city planner Chris Erias.

Mike Guttridge, who owns Emerald Park Company, is the first developer to take advantage of the city's new temporary fee reduction incentive program. It was created by the city earlier this year to encourage homebuilders to re-enter the housing market by charging 50 percent less for building permits.

It will remain in place through November 2013.

Guttridge, who could not be reached for comment Thursday, told the Planning Commission last month that his company is trying to focus more on homes in the 1,800-square-foot range for now because getting appraisals for anything larger is difficult due to the current economy.

"The developer has indicated that the incentive program approved by the council ... was instrumental in moving forward with the home construction," Behrmann said.

Lodi City Manager Rad Bartlam considers that city's new housing market nearly as depressed as Galt's.

In the last four years, there have been a total of 20 permits for single-family homes compared to 200 to 250 in a typical year.

"When we get one, it's a big deal," Bartlam said. "Lodi typically has not had a lot of track housing (projects). We mostly have custom homes."

There are currently two single-family home permits coming down the pike, with another two projects under construction, he said.

Before the state's economic downtown, Galt too averaged about 200 building permits annually for single-family homes.

In 2007, there were 46, and the number dropped to 30 in 2008. The following year, there was one.

There are currently more than 190 unfinished lots sitting vacant in partially completed neighborhoods throughout the city due to the economy, according to city staff.

They said properties can be a drain on city services for weed abatement and an eyesore for neighbors.

Contact reporter Jennifer Bonnett at jenniferb@lodinews.com.

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