Locally - El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento and Yolo counties - the declines aren't as bad as statewide.
But apparently, building has all but ceased in Yuba and Sutter counties. Just one permit in January.
Here's the overall look: Builders obtained permits to start just 2,007 homes statewide.
That was 1,283 single-family home permits and 724 permits for condominiums and apartments. Building permits obtained from cities and counties are an indicator of planned construction starts.
Statewide permits were down 57 percent from December and down 57 percent from Jan. 2008, as well. That means the state is already down from last year, which saw the fewest housing starts since the state began keeping records in 1954.
The year-over-year decline was less sharp in El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento and Yolo counties. Builders there obtained permits to start 179 new homes in January, down 27 percent from the same month last year.
Details for Yuba and Sutter counties: Builders saw one of the worst declines in California. Their one permit in January was a 95 percent reduction from 20 permits in Jan. 2008. Builders in Merced also got one permit in January, a 98 percent drop from 45 in Jan. 2008.
The California Building Industry Association expressed hope that a recently enacted $8,000 federal tax credit for first-time home buyers and a $10,000 state tax credit for new-home buyers in California will boost sales and starts.