Housing starts inch up in California

California builders pulled permits for 7,164 single-family homes in May, a 2.5 percent decrease from April, according to the Construction Industry Research Board. But in the multi-family housing market, the number of starts totaled 3,574, a 14 percent rise over April.

The net gain was a 2 percent overall rise in residential building activity.

Yearly comparisons were still grim, with single-family housing permits in May dropping 40 percent compared to May 2006. Permits for condos and apartments were down 29 percent in May 2007 compared to the previous year.