Number of building permits issued by Sarasota County in this fiscal year likely to set new record, county administrator says

Multi-family residential dwelling unit permits issued through March more than 10 times higher than figure for same period of 2021 fiscal year

This slide shows the historical trends in building permits issued by county staff. Image courtesy Sarasota County

Think housing construction is booming in Sarasota County? The mid-year report on Sarasota County building permits shows that is exactly the case.

During the May 25 County Commission budget workshop, County Administrator Jonathan Lewis presented a series of slides to underscore what residents have been observing.

In the 2021 fiscal year, which began on Oct. 1, 2020, the county set a record for the total number of permits staff issued, Lewis told the board members. By the end of March 2021, a chart showed, staff had issued 21,310 permits. The figure through the end of March this year was 21,122. “Not really all that different,” Lewis noted, referencing the side-by-side bars on that chart.

Still, he continued, “There may be a slight leveling off” because of the supply chain issues that have affected multiple businesses, not to mention consumers.

Nonetheless, Lewis added, “We’re still hurtling towards all-time highs.”

He then noted a slide showing the total number of county permits issued each fiscal year beginning in 2004.

The low mark was in the 2009 fiscal year, the slide makes clear, when the Great Recession was underway. Staff issued 21,009 permits, the slide says. However, by the 2018 fiscal year, the total was nearly double that: 41,670.

Though the total dipped slightly in the 2019 fiscal year, the number jumped almost 10% from the 2020 fiscal year to the 2021 fiscal year, which ended on Sept. 30. 2021. In FY 2020, the total was 41,912; for FY 2021, it was 46,459.

Lewis also pointed out that the 2021 fiscal year marked “an all-time high” for the number of permits issued for the construction of single-family homes. The figure was 2,908, the slide shows.

These charts show trends for single-family home and commercial permits. Image courtesy Sarasota County
This graph provides more of a historical perspective in issuance of single-family dwelling permits. Image courtesy Sarasota County

Through March 2021, according to another graph, staff had issued 1,320 permits for new single-family homes. Through March of this year, the figure was 1,239.

Lewis told the commissioners that the expectation is that the total this fiscal year will be slightly below the FY 2021 record.

Another slide provided the historical trends for single-family dwelling unit permits. Again, the low mark between FY 2004 and FY 2021 was FY 2009. That year, staff issued 273 of those permits.

In the 2020 fiscal year, the number was 1,954. Thus, the 2022 total was almost 49% higher.

By Sept. 30, Lewis said, “We should pass every other year, except maybe ’21.”

He further noted the “huge increase in the multi-family [residential dwelling unit] permits.”

By the end of March 2021, staff had issued 66 of those, a slide notes. By the end of this March, the total was 671.

These graphs compare figures for multi-family dwelling unit permits and inspections. Image courtesy Sarasota County
These are the most recent data for single-family home permits, which cover the fiscal year through April. They were emailed to the commissioners earlier this month. ‘SFDU’ stands for single-family dwelling unit. Image courtesy Sarasota County

A chart showing the trends from FY 2017 through the midpoint of this fiscal year made clear that the county’s high mark for multi-family unit permits was set in the 2018 fiscal year.

The University of Florida’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research (BEBR) estimated the county’s population as of April 1, 2021 was 441,508. That was up by 7,502 people, compared to the figure for April 1, 2020, BEBR noted. Another BEBR statistic shows the county’s population rose 15.6% from 2010 to 2020.

The Florida Legislature’s staff routinely uses BEBR data in its work for the members of the state House and Senate.

Finally, during the May 25 workshop, Lewis pointed to the potential that building inspections will set a county record this fiscal year, too. Through March 2021, county staff had handled 76,720 inspections; through March of this year, the figure was up 9%, to 83,671.

Chair Alan Maio remarked on the fact that the inspections data should be considered in the context of staff time, as well.

Lewis then told the board members that staff does expect that the number of inspections will set a record this fiscal year.

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