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Here is the data our field surveyors were collecting:




  • Parcels with a structure on them

    • Occupied building

    • Vacant building: Includes vacant garages or coach houses where the main house has been demolished; partially-collapsed buildings; portions of buildings attached to a main building that are on a separate parcel (eg the drive-through window of a bank).  Does not include parking attendant booths, garden sheds, etc.

    • Vacant ground floor, unclear upper floors:  There are a lot of buildings where the storefront is clearly shut but the apartments/upstairs may still be actively occupied, and one can’t tell from the street.


  • Parcels with no structure

    • Park/garden/cemetery: official city/state parks, gardens in active use (defunct gardens are just lots), cemeteries

    • Parking lot:  Includes all parcels developed as a parking lot, even if the lot is now closed (unless in very advanced stages of disrepair); excludes lots that people are informally parking on

    • Utility or rail: includes the railroad parcels, the solar field, etc.

    • Industrial lot: includes the scrapyard and similar

    • Lot: everything else that doesn’t have a structure on it and isn’t a parking lot/utility/park etc., including front or side yards where they are a separate parcel in the tax map.

    • Vacant lot: We identified “vacant” lots after the survey, by excluding all lots that were not part of a property with an occupied builidng.





There are no condition questions for this category, although there is an open-form “Notes” field if necessary. For this particular survey, we just cared that the building (or the sub-building represented by a given parcel) is occupied.




  • Is there active construction or demolition in progress?

We care because this is indicative of a change of status – the building may get occupied shortly after we survey it, or may become a lot rather than a building


  • Are there For Rent/For Sale/Realtor signs?


  • Is it visibly unsecured?

Includes windows that are not boarded up on the ground and basement floors; any active signs of entry or break-in, eg ropes dangling from the second floor, “windows” cut into boards on the second floor (really common in parts of the city), etc. Note that we did not ask the surveyors to circle the building and check the alley/back for safety reasons. We care because this is a public safety hazard.


  • Are animals visibly present?

Generally we don’t see possums at high noon, so this is usually “No” unless a neighbor told us about it or the surveyors actively saw a bird flying in (or similar). Birds and cats count. We care because this is a health hazard and a criterion for APRA.


  • Are there Xs?

This refers to the [X]s marked by the Fire Dept, with options for full and partial Xs. As the FD explained to me, a full X means firefighters shouldn’t enter even if the building is on fire because it is too unsafe; a partial X (in any direction) means they should be very, very careful if they enter. We care because “severely dilapidated” is a criterion in APRA.


  • Does it need rehabilitation?

The options here are based on extremes, to keep this as observational as possible. “No” is for buildings that look like they’ve already been rehabbed or are appear to be in move-in shape. “Significant” is if the roof, walls, etc. are collapsing.  “Moderate” for everything in between.


  • Is there dumping?

We care because this is a severe nuisance and will require different levels of cleanup.


  • Is there trash?

Accumulations of litter are included here.


  • Notes (optional)




  • Surface: The options are "Earth" and "Paving/Rubble/other".

  • Dumping: see above

  • Trash: see above

  • Is it maintained?

This is our most subjective question: does someone appear to be taking regular care of the property?

  • Weeds

The options here are “No” and “Yes, > 2.5 ft”, because the City ordinance allows fines if weeds are over 2.5 feet.


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