New homes under construction in Carlsbad. REUTERS / Mike Blake

A new study sponsored by the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce finds that housing has reached a crisis point in San Diego County.

The crisis caused by lack of supply is making housing unaffordable, forcing longer commutes, creating greater congestion, and increasing employee and employer dissatisfaction.

Since 1996 the county has added an average of 16,405 jobs per year, but home construction hasn’t kept pace, and has fallen since the Great Recession, according to the study by The London Group.

From 1996 to 2007, building permits averaged 12,753 units per year, but since the economic downturn in 2008, the number has fallen to an average of only 5,968 units per year. Those numbers are far below what’s necessary to support new jobs.

“The on-the-ground reality is that substantially fewer units than anticipated by planning documents will ever be built due to neighborhood resistance, and the financial economics involved in these projects, which mostly will require far more density than is likely to be permitted,” the study’s author Gary London wrote.

The chamber said this mismatch between job growth and housing availability will ultimately stifle economic growth.

“Employers are losing talent every day to places like Austin, Denver and Portland where their employees can spend substantially less of their pay check on a home big enough to comfortably fit their family,” said Sean Karafin, executive director of policy and economic research at the chamber. “We can’t overstate how much our housing affordability crisis is holding back our economy.”

The study predicts that demand for single-family homes will be substantially higher than planners expect, creating another mismatch as Millennials begin to form families and seek to move out of apartments.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.