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Around Tulare County: Pace Of Local Car Sales Slow

March 15,2015-


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Gas prices in California are finally heading lower in the past week after ramping up about $1 since the early part of the year. They are down 6 cents in the past week says Gas Buddy and with the settling of a strike at regional refineries last week and WTI oil prices falling to $43 a barrel. In sum, look  for lower prices at the pump as we head into Spring. Visalia Costco and a few others hit $2.99 locally this week. Diesel is a few cents cheaper than regular unleaded.

Tulare County’s new car sales
were up a robust 11 percent last year. But Don Groppetti, the region’s  largest automotive dealer expects a more modest 5 to 6% increase in 2015. “The market is still positive   with good demand especially for small SUVs and full size pickups“ he says.This matches a state New Car Dealer Association prediction of 1.91 million new registrations in 2015 – up from 1.85 million last year. The Honda Accord was the state’s best selling vehicle last year.While most south Valley reservoir levels are way below normal Lake Kaweah is well above average and double what it was a year ago. Last year on March 13  the lake had just 23,000 acre/ft and as of March 13 this year it stood at 46,843AF. Corp director Phil Deffenbaugh says there has been no winter releases this year as they seek to fill the lake past last year’s  83,00AF. ”It all depends on March and April” expects Deffenbaugh who hopes they can reach 90,000AF. ”With 90 degree temps, the fuller lake is drawing big recreation crowds.” While the lake has runoff now it could be meager when the snow melts given that the snowpack is just 22% of March average.Tulare County’s Hispanic population continues to grow. The 2010 census says the county had 443,000 residents and 268,000 of them were Hispanic.That’s about 61%. By 2060 the total number of additional residents would be 336,285 says the state Dept of Finance. Of that 328,000 will be Hispanic – almost all the growth. That would take the total residents in Tulare County in 2060 to 779,000. Of that,some 596,000 will be Hispanic or about 77 percent.While immigration from Mexico and outside the US is down to 3000 from 2010 to 2014, out- migration of people leaving Tulare County was around 8000. The county’s growth will come from births, about 5000 a year. Our county will be hungry for education with the number of college age kids up 57% by 2060.

Visalia home building stayed strong in February with permits issued for 47 new homes compared to 26 in February 2014.

Self Help Enterprises continuing multiple projects around Tulare County including work on new 71 unit subdivision in Woodlake and a 36 unit multi-family project in Visalia. The non-profit is also sponsoring welding classes at a new vocational institute in the Visalia Industrial Park
Tulare County’s jobless rate in January was 13.9%, up from December as expected but down vs  January a year ago when it was 15.5%. The county has 3200 more jobs than a year ago including 100 more farm jobs. Construction and manufacturing are each 600 jobs stronger.

Mooney regional commercial acreage could grow by 28 acres under an application by Paloma Development to rezone land across from Target. The city planning commission gave the plan a thumbs up March 9 and it will now go the city council where most expect it will pass. The property is at the southwest of Mooney and  West Visalia Parkway.

Valley Business Bank is closing its Tipton banking center, merging its operations into its Tulare Business Banking Center, effective on June 1. The consolidation will include the relocation of all customer accounts and staff to the Tulare location. “The Tulare Business Banking Center is a more modern facility and we believe customers that desire a traditional banking experience will find that it serves their needs very well,” says Allan Stone, president and chief executive officer of the Visalia-based bank.

Pismo Beach-based Papich Construction wants to permanently erect a asphalt batch plant located at the northwest corner of Highway 198 and Road 68, about 1/2 mile west of State Route 99.They have a permit for a temporary plant now but seek full entitlement from the county.The county wants to expand the operation from 3,700 tons/day to 8,000 tons/day of asphalt.

California egg prices
have calmed down from the first of the year when Prop 2 went into effect in the state precipitating fears of egg shortages. Prices went way up for few weeks but now USDA reports large eggs are averaging $1.99 per dozen, 38 cents more than eggs sold in New York shipped in from the Midwest. Californians are going  to have to pay a few cents more per egg for the hens to stretch.

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