Citizens for Responsible Planning (CFRP) is a group of Charlottesville residents who came together out of a concern that the Housing Chapter and Future Land Use Map of the city’s draft Comprehensive Plan has serious flaws of both process and content. The group believes that a plan that is not grounded in an inclusive, data-driven and analytically sound process risks failing to produce affordable housing while inflicting collateral damage on the city.

CFRP has prepared a series of presentations that summarize our research on Charlottesville’s housing situation and the Future Land Use Map. We welcome feedback and would be happy to attempt to answer any questions you might have on our materials. You can email us here.

  1. Narrated Presentation: Analyzing the CP’s Diagnosis of Charlottesville’s Housing Challenge.

2. Narrated Presentation: The Upzoning Prescription

3. Short paper summarizing the problems with the FLUM.

You can read the paper here.

4. Presentation Slides: Getting to the Bottom of the Student Household Distortion.

You can view the slides here.

5. Constructing a Repeat-Sales Housing Price Index for Charlottesville City.

Participants in the debate over the CP/FLUM refer to many different and potentially mutually inconsistent measures of housing price level and growth. We attempted to help clarify the debate by constructing an RSI for Charlottesville City single-family housing using the fullest transaction dataset possible. We compare this index with other measures and illustrate the importance of using care in selecting and comparing different housing price metrics.

You can view the whitepaper here.

6. We made an attempt to analyze and plot the city’s parcel-level data from the Open Data Portal to better understand current development capacity, commercial conversion potential, and (at a very rough-cut level) the extent of economically feasible “tear-down” activity under the proposed FLUM. You can see the analysis here. This is a work in progress, and we encourage people to look at the plots identified in their own neighborhood and let us know of errors and omissions. UPDATE 9/24: We added analysis of underutilized R-2 plots and subdivisible R-1 plots.

7.We took a look, using city data, at multifamily housing production in the city and the city government’s success in getting affordable housing resources out of developers. The results were sobering.

8. This is not CFRP’s analysis, but rather the product of a community member who agreed to let us share it on the website. The FLUM aims to reduce Charlottesville’s carbon footprint through the encouragement of denser development. If a planner were building a city from scratch and optimizing for GHG emissions, nearly everyone would agree that the city should be built at relatively high density. Charlottesville, however, already exists. Whether the FLUM will be positive or negative for GHG depends on how certain variables turn out: where do the people filling new MFH units come from (are they city workers who were living in Louisa County for economic reasons, or are they arriving from NYC where they lived in small apartments and walked to work); what sorts of buildings are developers putting up (high efficiency or low efficiency) and what fraction of the development is via infill versus teardown? The linked set of slides is intended to frame these questions and point out the sort of analysis that would be required to determine the direction of full-cycle GHG emissions impact. You can view it here.

9. Some participants in the FLUM debate have pointed to instances of houses selling above assessed value as an indicator of housing stress. We took a more systematic look at assessment-to-sales ratios in Charlottesville today and over time, as well as offering some perspective on the usefulness of ASRs versus price indices. The short answer: ASRs for Charlottesville are neither unusual relative to local history nor to other Virginia jurisdictions, though generally ASRs are less useful indicators of market state than price indices. We did find some interesting evidence in recent ASRs by market segment, suggesting the “FLUM development option” is already getting priced into lower-priced properties. You can read about it here

10. We have heard from many FLUM proponents that their support of upzoning stems in part from their desire to be able to walk to a coffee shop or grocery store. We share the view that walkability is important. There we undertook to quantify walkability and its interaction with the FLUM. Some highlights:

  • The city is quite walkable — 16mins median walk (by Google, which always overestimates) to a grocery store, 17 minutes to a coffee shop
  • Overall walkability for the city is almost as high as Toronto and Denver, on one common metric
  • Some of the more expensive neighborhoods and ones where there has been strongest FLUM opposition are among the least walkable.  They may not therefore be highly appropriate places to put MFH and they are not occupying the most walkable or amenity-adjacent land in the city
  • Correlation between walkability and property value is opposite for SFH vs MFH, suggesting density is a preference linked to housing-style preference..  SFH owners value space and are willing to accept some isolation.  MFH values walkability and proximity highly.  Lower-value MFH tends to be isolated and inaccessible –suggesting a problem of exclusion that may requires efforts to draw amenities to places that lack them

You can read the results here.