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Construction on the Rise in Santa Maria

SANTA MARIA, Calif. - Santa Maria is seeing more residential and commercial construction, and that means more jobs for construction workers. The city says it's only going to get better from here.

Geoffrey Villegas has made a living as a land surveyor for more than 40 years. But his steady flow of work slowed dramatically around 2008 when the recession put a stop to many construction projects.

"We got hit pretty good," said Villegas. "I was only working sometimes 2 days a week, sometimes 3 days a week."

Construction workers like Geoffrey are starting to see those jobs come back, putting dollars back in their pockets.

The construction industry is showing signs of recovery, and in Santa Maria, several new residential and commercial developments are in the works for 2014.

"It's good for the city in a number of ways, it's providing jobs for construction and at the same time we have property value increases because of the new construction coming in," said Larry Appel, Santa Maria Community Development Director. "We have new jobs, permanent jobs and new housing opportunities for people to move up into."

There's been an uptick in city-issued building permits. That means more revenue for the city of Santa Maria. Building permit revenue for the 2011-2012 fiscal year came in at $622,000. It's projected the city will receive $1.5 million in revenue this year, more than double the number 2 years ago.

While the increase in development is promising, the city says that the numbers are still a far cry from pre-recession years and there's still plenty of work to be done.

"We do have room to grow still and I think the projects that are coming through now are showing that some of the older projects that didn't get built before the recession are now coming forward," said Appel.

The city of Santa Maria expects building activity to continue to increase over the next two years. On the residential side, there are over 2,000 dwelling units either approved or pending approval from the Planning Commission.

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