April 12, 2011

San Francisco Property Information Map Preview For The Plugged-In

San Francisco Property Information Map

While it hasn’t officially been announced or unveiled, San Francisco’s Planning department is preparing to launch the San Francisco Property Information Map, an "innovative, user-friendly property information tool provides a single access point for a variety of useful property data, zoning and project information."

Amongst the information the San Francisco Property Information Map will yield for each property in San Francisco with a single search:

• Property Information (including Assessor's Reports and Maps)
• Zoning Information of the Property (including Districts and Regulations)
• Historic Preservation Records of the Property
• Project History of the Property
• Building Permit & Other Permit History of the Property
• Enforcement Complaint Record of the Property

Don't blame us if the development site crashes today, or perhaps do.

San Francisco Property Information Map [sfplanning.org]

First Published: April 12, 2011 10:15 AM

Comments from "Plugged In" Readers

The city should have spent the money fixing potholes.

Posted by: anon at April 12, 2011 10:43 AM

another great site is zonability.com, so far she just has sf up, but since that's all we really care about...

Posted by: david m at April 12, 2011 11:00 AM

Thank you SS. An invaluable tool used in my consulting

Posted by: hiitsme at April 12, 2011 11:17 AM

Sales not up to date.

Posted by: Anonymous at April 12, 2011 11:21 AM

beware that zonability.com provides highly out of date and unreliable information. For instance, I looked up a site on Rincon Hill (45 Lansing), which was rezoned almost 6 years ago, and the information was totally incorrect. Given that large swaths of the City have been rezoned in the past several years, I personally would not trust any zoning information gleaned from any second-hand sources. It may be useful for your average sfh area in the western part of the city that hasn't been rezoned in decades and the website itself is a nifty concept, but if you're making any real decisions or evaluations of a property, I wouldn't rely on it or sources like it.

Posted by: intheknow at April 12, 2011 11:52 AM

On the other hand, I'm finding permits I could never find on the old system.

Odd (well, not really)

Posted by: BobN at April 12, 2011 12:20 PM

I'm having the opposite problem from BobN -- no permits where I know there are permits. However, it looks like some of the other data is not showing up properly either.

The interface is a lot better than having to navigate through the current interfaces, but it doesn't fully incorporate the existing systems and it's not integrated very well to the underlying systems even as it provides links to them.

Posted by: sfrenegade at April 12, 2011 12:45 PM

Google Maps plus some simple data retrieval. I'm guessing the city paid around $5MM for this.

Posted by: EH at April 12, 2011 1:27 PM

Crash? It looks like it's running on Amazon's web services, so I think it's unlikely to crash.

[Editor’s Note: Tongue-in-cheek, but it also comes down to the code as we’re all too painfully aware.]

Posted by: JP at April 12, 2011 2:34 PM

"Google Maps plus some simple data retrieval. I'm guessing the city paid around $5MM for this."

No funds spent beyond salary and Amazon - this was developed by in-house staff over the last year.

Posted by: sd at April 12, 2011 3:55 PM

Nice. Easy to use and consolidates a lot of information in one interface.

Posted by: Rillion at April 12, 2011 4:05 PM

@sd: so you're saying this was just "busy work" for otherwise-underutilized City employees? And they wonder why they are bankrupt ...

Posted by: BobTheBuilder at April 12, 2011 4:13 PM

@bob: no, planning now has several programmer/gis/data types that manage parcel and other data. the planning dept. is just about entirely covered by permit fees and grants.

Posted by: sd at April 12, 2011 4:28 PM

Here's an idea... rather than posting about the poor use of tax dollars and what's missing, permits, etc. Why not click on the "Your Feedback" link on the site and help them improve it?

"Be the change that you want to see"

Posted by: loftlover at April 12, 2011 4:51 PM

The feedback link may sound like a good idea, but I doubt the Planning Dept. people even bother to read it or take it seriously.

They could give a rat's ass what we think. Most of them are there to cover their ass and protect their job.

Posted by: noearch at April 12, 2011 6:40 PM

No funds spent beyond salary and Amazon - this was developed by in-house staff over the last year.

Multiple people over a year, so that means they had to deal with SOAP or worse, likely from Willie or Jordan giving the server room away to Microsoft/Sun years ago. Sounds like the cocktail weenies were worth it.

Posted by: EH at April 12, 2011 6:46 PM

Planning folks are generally helpful and competent, but there are barely enough of them to get the work done and so they are buried. They do what they can and fight fires, and of course the maneuvers of political operators don't help much. Look at the qualifications they need, the Byzantine madness they are paid to enforce, and the ratio of planners to plans reviewed and the problem can easily be seen as more than careless ass covering.

Posted by: Mole Man at April 12, 2011 7:33 PM

@EH: no, 1 person over less than 1 year and not everyone at the department is a planner. the need for data management and reporting has expanded exponentially with the advent of the various area plan monitoring reports required by politicos (both mayoral and supes).

@noearch: planners generally hate the planning code, or at least large portions of it. web/data folks do review feedback - this isn't difficult as relatively little is received.

Posted by: sd at April 12, 2011 9:06 PM

I have had both good and bad experiences with the Planning Dept. Some people are very knowledgeable, professional and helpful.

Others are not: At a recent over the counter review with Planning, there were 5, yes FIVE planners standing around chatting and socializing while I waited at the counter for one of them to respond to me and say "may I help you?". One person was too busy eating a donut to come to the counter. Two of them seem irritated that I had a detailed list of questions that needed answering.

So, please don't tell me "there are barely enough of them to get the work done and so they are buried.."

This was my experience and it has happened way more than once. Thank you.

Posted by: noearch at April 12, 2011 9:29 PM

Good work @sd!

Enjoy the courteous, well thought out, and civil responses from our pathological SS family.

Posted by: Kurt Brown at April 12, 2011 11:50 PM

PS check scrolling behavior on Safari/iOS - scroll bar is missing on my iPad so I can't see anything past the bottom of the screen

Posted by: Kurt Brown at April 12, 2011 11:59 PM

I'm surprised that the majority of people here complain when an easily accessible source of information is posted FOR FREE. (ok ok, perhaps it cost around the annual salary of ONE city/county employee).

if they put out a crappy product: lambasted. (and well deserved)

if they put out a cheap accessible well thought out although simple product? lambasted anyway because the planning IT department didn't fix potholes and because of incorrect estimates of $5M.

I certainly am VERY VERY happy to have this information, if for no other reason than it links info that used to be in multiple places.

will this help the average RE mogul or contractor or RE agent who is already well versed in the various SF RE data warehouses? probably not.

but what about a schlep like me who just wants a point and click answer to last recorded sales price?
Oh yeah.

in other words, it will help the average relatively uninformed buyer.

bravo city of SF. (and ss for linking)
bookmarked.

======
PS check scrolling behavior on Safari/iOS - scroll bar is missing on my iPad so I can't see anything past the bottom of the screen

yes, apple technology can be a difficult mistress or boytoy. :)

you could try to download "Firefox Home" for mobile, but I'm not sure if that will fix your problem. as I'm sure most people realize, the iPad is a limited product, obviously more glam than functional. but eventually they'll get the kinks out with version 3 or 4 or whatever.

http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/mobile/home/

Posted by: ex SF-er at April 13, 2011 5:45 AM

iPad scroll bars missing - try using 2 fingers to scroll within the report window. It's how apple handle scrolling portions of a web page, it's a great feature though they don't document it well. The site actually tells iPad users to do this (top of the report window after completing a search).

Posted by: hfc73 at April 13, 2011 9:49 AM

Kurt/hfc73- Wow, I feel like a f*cking genius! Just discovered the 2 finger scroll. Same problem with the mls database- blocked info in windows. So now I can finally use that one too.

Ironic that a sf city web site taught me that :). (apple *really* needs to promote that for iPad users. Shouldn't have taken me 1 year to discover this. Shees!)

[Editor’s Note: Actually, it was a plugged-in reader that taught you that, give credit where credit is due…]

Posted by: 47yo hipster at April 13, 2011 10:06 PM

@hfc73 Awesome tip! Thanks mucho!

Posted by: Kurt Brown at April 14, 2011 12:05 AM

If anyone hasn't checked this webapp since the original release, the integration with other city websites works properly now. Kudos to the dev team!

Btw, there are still some quirks when you actually click to go to the underlying websites, but that's the fault of the underlying sites (either they are poorly designed or they have an inadequately designed API) -- not directly the fault of this webapp.

Posted by: sfrenegade at May 5, 2011 6:32 PM

You're right sfrenegade, those placeholder tabs that just redirected to the old pages are now replaced with the actual data. It is now noticeably more convenient.

Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at May 5, 2011 8:30 PM

I saw a few mentions of Zonability and wanted to send a response. Zonability's current offering is a beta site and we are working diligently on improving the quality and scope of our data. Unfortunately, we have been somewhat limited by the quality of the data provided to us by various cities, though we are making great progress on that front. The data in the Lansing Street example is old, but that is what was provided to us by the city of San Francisco via the Open Data initiative.

We actually met with the City of SF back in October and showed them what we were doing. We even won an award from the Center for Digital Government for the SF web app and were named a finalist in Living Labs Global international competition for "building the next generation of government". http://www.livinglabs-global.com/Award-About.aspx?section=16

Apparently they liked what we are doing, but we are admittedly a little disappointed that the city decided to spend resources on developing a copy of zonability before we could convince them to leverage our existing work. I'm confident we could have provided a more cost effective way to deliver and maintain a zoning solution. Hey, I suppose imitation is the sincerest form of flattery :)

Zonability will be refreshed soon with better data and some great new tools for zoning information. So please check back in a few weeks.

-Leigh Budlong, Founder
Zonability

Posted by: Leigh Budlong at May 10, 2011 12:47 PM

I have been a r.e. broker here, since 1977 and this PIM deal is far and away...the best thing to happen to those of us in r.e. in the city...ever.

It is FABULOUS... The Planning Dept ought to get a big award.
I sound like a shill, but have not yet met the people at Planning who pulled this off. They should be in charge of all Information Systems for the whole city.

Posted by: john barry at November 4, 2011 6:26 PM

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