By Andy Kramek, December 21, 2019
I was very interested to read the report on the recent CMPAC meeting particularly about its focus on the “tools” included in the CMP. So I wanted to see just what these tools do and found it very interesting indeed. I thoroughly recommend that you dig them out and go through them in detail because, when you do, you will see how heavily this whole monstrosity is skewed to some very specific objectives. For example, the “Growth Prioritization Tool” defines priorities in terms of points as follows:
It also identifies four criteria to use when assessing a potential “growth project”. Namely, Location, Market Gap, Quality of Life and Profit & Cost. These seem pretty reasonable on the face of it, at least, until you realize that Quality of Life comprises less than 30% of the criteria and that integration into the existing environment contributes less than 15%! So what would constitute a Very High Priority project using these scores? Well, let’s see:*CMP-Chart-2-AK-1
Quite apart from anything else many of these criteria expose my total ignorance – I have no idea what “Development transitions scale toward existing housing” means, or “Over 50% of units create off-site preserve lots (Purchase or TDR)” or even what an “Activity Center” really is. Clearly the latter two are terribly important since they alone comprise 33% of the maximum possible score. Actually, if you examine the criteria carefully you can, using this tool, generate a “High Priority” project by getting a third-party developer to fund building a high-density mix of cottages and row houses within ¼ mile of an activity center with over 50% of the units creating off-site preserve lots and ignore everything else (including any mention of revenue generation for the POA)!
While on the topic of revenue generation, let’s look at that last high-scoring line item in a little more detail. The definition is “Project will provide over $10,000 assessment per acre, per year“. What does that actually mean in terms of “units”. Assuming that assessment fees for these new units are running at or around current rates, each unit will generate about $850 per annum. Therefore we would, at current values, need 12 units per acre to generate the required revenue. That means each unit can occupy no more than 3,630 sq ft in total or just over a square measuring 60 ft on a side. For comparison, a typical ¼ acre lot is around 11,000 sq ft or, to put it another way, build 3 units on the same piece of land that your house currently occupies!
The “Amenities” Tool operates on a similar set of principles, but it has many more criteria defined which makes it difficult to determine what is actually considered “important”. However, some of the higher scoring criteria are:CMP-Chart-3-AK
Note that, at first glance, some of these are apparently mutually exclusive. However, that is because these are simply the highest-ranked criteria from each section; for example “Quality of Life” actually has 15 separate criteria of which only 5 are extracted. To generate a high priority project using the full list of criteria requires a score of at least 106 (96 for upgrading an existing amenity) so just cherry-picking the high scoring items, as I have done here, does not even get close. The obvious conclusion is that it is going to be much more difficult to define an amenity as a high priority item than simply building lots of new housing units!
However, having said all this, the third “tool” is, perhaps, the most interesting. This is the “Quantifying Value” Tool and is supposed to be customized specifically to Hot Springs Village. The instructions included indicate that the criteria be prioritized according to the needs of the village, and then weighted as to their relative importance. Here are the criteria as they stand:CMP-Chart-4-AK
Apart from the extensive use of gobbledygook terms and meaningless acronyms (what exactly does “recreate individually” mean and just how do you “utilize amenities in multiple formats”?), this is clearly intended to be used as a starting point, not an end in itself. However, I have not seen any indication in any of the meetings, nor did I hear it stated in this last meeting, that anything had been done to tackle the job of completing this tool. Most of the discussion seemed to center on the Growth Prioritization Tool with, an almost aside, mention of the Amenity Tool but nothing was said about the one tool that is supposed to be specifically customized to the needs of the Village.
So what exactly is this CMP Advisory Committee doing? Surely setting, and prioritizing, the criteria for determining what the Village needs would be an important issue. In fact, it may be the single most important issue since, without those criteria how do you know that what you are doing makes sense?
By Andy Kramek, December 21, 2019
*(Please click the Full-screen arrows on the pdfs to enlarge the charts.)