The Morning Report
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A bunch of housing and economy stories this weekend focused on downtown condos and quirky, booming construction sectors. And no, it’s not 2004. Here’s your roundup:

  • High-priced condo units have been selling slowly, the U-T points out.

The LA Times today surveyed San Diego’s downtown condo market troubles and mentioned Vantage Pointe’s reincarnation as a part-rental complex.

I’m not convinced — having heard a lot about gluts of thousands and thousands of condos in other places like Miami and Las Vegas — that “nowhere is the collapse more dramatic than in downtown San Diego,” as the story said, though it would take years to sell all of the finished condos on the market, not counting the ones under construction.

  • If you get our excellent Morning Report, you might’ve seen links today to that LAT story and this New York Times story profiling last weekend’s annual Stand Down event, where homeless veterans get access to dental care, haircuts, legal help and some aid with benefits applications. The story mentions some of the changing demographics among homeless veterans — I have heard from many people that this could be a huge concern for our region.

According to V.A. estimates, the overall number of homeless veterans declined in recent years, from about 250,000 who lacked shelter at some point in 2006 to perhaps 200,000 last year. The share of women is climbing, and while they account for 4 percent of all homeless veterans, they make up 9 percent of those under 45, said Pete Dougherty, director of homeless programs at the department.

The agency has so far detected about 3,700 homeless veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, but with one million troops now home from these regions and more returning every week, Mr. Dougherty said, that figure is sure to climb. In an ominous harbinger, a recent study found that more than one-third of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans who enrolled in the veterans’ health system since 2001 had already displayed post-traumatic stress disorder, depression or other mental health problems.

  • Stimulus and military spending is good news for the region’s battered construction industry, said a story in Sunday’s U-T. The numbers are compelling:

San Diego County’s construction industry has shed plenty of jobs over the past few years. It employs 66,700 workers today, down about 28,400 from the peak in 2006.

But several programs by the Pentagon — including a barracks upgrade program and a drive to increase the number of Marines — have helped cushion the blow from the residential and commercial building downturn. …

At Camp Pendleton and Miramar Marine Corps Air Station alone, the Navy awarded construction contracts totaling $591 million last year.

Compare that with the value of building permits for nonmilitary, private commercial structures, excluding schools and warehouses, which last year totaled $339 million countywide, said Alan Gin, an economist at the University of San Diego.

  • Here’s another specialty for which business is booming: the contractors coming to fill in your pool. Sunday’s U-T looked at the trend, one growing locally as homeowners call in help to get rid of their backyard swimmin’ holes — citing a number of reasons between the water crisis, maintenance costs and pool fatigue.
KELLY BENNETT

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