It’s not the greatest news, but at least you can take away some modest positive signs… 

Despite existing home sales falling dramatically in the U.S. in July, housing production in California continued to increase as a result of strong performance in the multifamily sector, according to the California Building Industry Association.

According to statistics compiled by the Construction Industry Research Board (CIRB), permits were pulled for 4,165 total housing units in July, up 35% from the same month a year ago, but down 10% from June. Permits for single-family homes totaled 1,951, down 9% from July 2009 and down 31% from the previous month, while multifamily permits totaled 2,214, up 134% from a year ago and up 25% from May.

For the first seven months of the year, permits were pulled for 25,756 units, up 22% when compared to the same period in 2009 when 21,173 permits were issued. Single-family permits were up 7% while multifamily permits rose 51%.

Liz Snow, CBIA’s president and CEO, says the increase was another positive step in the right direction, but continued to be dismayed by historically-low construction levels.

“We’re very pleased to see continued increases in home construction, as I’m sure are the people being put back to work on the new projects,” says Snow. “Unfortunately, the amount of unsold inventory continues to weigh on job-generating home construction, and we still expect to see modest improvement this year while still hovering around record-low production numbers.”

Snow notes that the CIRB is now forecasting a total of 47,500 units will be built in 2010, an increase of 30% – roughly 11,000 units – over the record low posted in 2009. 

“The improvement over last year is still welcomed news, and we hope to see continued increases throughout the remainder of the year and into 2011,” she says.