Recap: ESI Presents at NCAC-APA Conference

Map of Public Use Microdata Areas (PUMAs) in DC Region

On June 4, our Community Data Analytics (CDA) team comprised of ESI Director, Dr. Daniel Miles, Research Analyst, Ms. Rinoa Guo, and Senior Advisor, Dr. Sidney Wong made the trip down to our nation’s capital to speak at the American Planning Association National Capital Area Chapter Conference. They delivered a CPE session to an engaged crowd of over 60 people. The session, “Projecting Development Impacts for Sustainable and Fiscally Responsible Growth,” focused on the importance of recent and geographic specific data in reference to community planning and the procedure of fiscal impact studies.

Dr. Wong began the session with an overview of development impacts, showing that household sizes have either fallen or remained stable in 35 states between 2000 and 2010. After Dr. Wong explained the necessity of using the most up-to-date demographic multipliers to estimate development impacts, Ms. Guo discussed the potential of the Public Use Microdata Sample (PUMS). PUMS is a sample that contains records about individual people and housing units. She presented the findings for the DC region by the CDA team, in particular the differential school impacts.



School-Age Children Ratios Vary Greatly within the Washington, DC Region

2014 Ratio for samples of households recently moved into a 2-bedroom Multifamily Units

Sources: Econsult Solutions, Inc. Community Data Analytics, based on 2010-2014 5-Year Public Use Microdata Sample. The number in the horizontal axis is designation of Public Use Microdata Area. Each bar represents one PUMA in the respective areas. PUMA is a geographic unit demarcating at least 100,000 people used by the US Census for providing information for persons, households, and housing units.


In the final portion of the presentation, Dr. Miles went through the steps of fiscal impact analysis and discussed a variety of improvements and adjustments. He stressed the importance of using hybrid methods to capture marginal cost situation.

During the 30 minute discussion session, the enthusiastic audience inquired about fiscal impact analysis techniques like the proportional valuation method and marginal cost adjustment, and shared a variety of first-hand experiences. For example, some asked about the potential of using fiscal impact analysis for revitalization in distressed cities. The concern of high impact fees and revenues relating to a trigger sales price led to the doubt of the received wisdom that residential development invariably generates fiscal deficits. An audience member shared their experience with the exaggerated school impacts in downtown multifamily projects, revealing that within a 200 unit development, only four students were present.

Other planners in the audience reassured the significance of fiscal impact studies. They explained that as property tax abatement becomes popular, it is critical to have an analysis to compare tax expenditure (tax revenues foregone) and the costs of added public service to serve the development.

Another planner brought up the possibility of long range impacts such as more school-age children in units that experience filtering down. Further discussion included issues such as the fiscal impacts of disintegrating infrastructure and the use of current local data t­­o reduce impact estimation biases.

 basic model fia


It was an engaging session full of great discussion. For more information about our new technical approach for fiscal impact studies, check out our blog post here.



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