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Houston Issues as Many Single-Family Housing Permits as All of California

An aerial view of Houston
An aerial view of HoustonPhotograph by Getty/Thinkstock

One of Houston’s biggest supporters, the economics writer Joel Kotkin, acknowledges that the city has a “cruddy reputation.’ It’s the only major U.S. city without a formal zoning code, which means you can find strip clubs next to churches and oil derricks in residential neighborhoods. But say this for Houston: It’s booming.

In August, the most recent month for which figures are available from the U.S. Census Bureau, metro Houston (including Sugar Land and the Woodlands) issued more permits for construction of single-family homes than did the entire state of California, which has six times the population. And that was no fluke. Houston and California have been running neck and neck in permit issuance since 2000, with California running just about 3,000 permits ahead in that time.