Here is a map for every City Hall conspiracy theorist.

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Click to head over to the wonderful land value map

You probably want to use your phone’s native browser rather than the Facebook thingie since web maps are difficult to get working right on Facebook’s mini web browser [Click here for fullscreen].

This map represents all the new adjusted land values the Office of Property Assessment has created after shifting a lot of people’s home values over to their land assessment.   Over 400,000 property owners have been receiving notices informing them of adjustments being made to the value of their land.

This shift is important since many people who have assessment freezes and exemptions only have them on their building value, not their land value.  Obviously that shift will cause increased payments from those who live in properties that have a 10 Year Tax Abatement applied to them.

But this map reveals more than that.  It reveals way more than that.

For starters, the value that the City thinks your land is worth has a lot more to do with your race and whether you live in Gentrificationland.   Areas of the city known to be predominately white-populated have far higher land values than areas which have more minorities.

Further, one area known to have very high housing prices has extremely low land values:  Chestnut Hill.   A quick picture reveals cool colors rather than the intense shades of red found in Fairmount and Point Breeze:

Poor Chestnut Hill. Their land must be contaminated.
Poor Chestnut Hill. Their land must be contaminated.

The City is also starkly aware of West Philadelphia’s “Line of Gentrification”, which they believe is 52nd Street.

West of the Line of Gentrification has lower land values than East of it.
West of the Line of Gentrification has lower land values than East of it.

It’s seems very obvious from this map of the City that the Office of Property Assessment has no idea what land value actually is, and it considers land value to be some function of what is sitting on top of the land.

Now comes the big glaring problem which is the loudest complaint of all.   See those dark blue lots in areas that are hot-pink and orange?   Here, I’ll show you Norris Square and South Kensington, where this problem shows up in the extreme:

The Elephant in the Room…

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Here is the loudest complaint of all, visualized.   Vacant lots are unfairly being assessed way below adjacent property.   Land values should look like smooth graduations of color, steadily increasing values should approach some feature that is contributing to land value—like major employers, transit stations, water features, parks and other things that make land valuable.

But in Philadelphia we are doing the exact opposite.  Vacant lots, abando-industrial and side yards have very low land values whereas residents sitting next to those lots pay multiple times per square foot for land that is essentially all the same.

Of course it isn’t fair.  It’s stupid.

You should take this map and make your City Councilperson look at it and demand that they fix this unfairness.   After all it’s your money, and you’re being asked to pay more and more every year.

 

Philadelinquency would like to extend a big shout out to the Mayor’s Office of Information Technology and Open Data for burning the Monday midnight oil to get the data out in time for Council hearings coming up this week.

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courtwatch

Welcome to CourtWatch.

A couple days ago I told you about the slow death of the once-popular crime monitoring website, PhillyRapSheet.  Written by Andrew McGill, the site became a de-facto police blotter of sorts for the city; although really–in a small town the police blotters usually have an excruciating level of detail consisting of nearly the entire incident report.  In Philly you have to watch the evening news if you want deetz.  (Good luck on 6ABC reporting on who that burglar was that entered your neighbor’s house)

Given how unorganized and sometimes difficult to go back a couple of days later after some drama goes down in your hood and ask “what was that guy who did/was arrested for such and such?” unless you have superior Googling skills, you’re not going to find it.

It’s even worse if you’re a community activist or concerned citizen and you’re intent on sitting the trial for someone who is facing conviction for something such as a homicide.

So, CourtWatch brings the PhillyRapSheet database back.

Matching Arrests to Violent and Violative Crime Reports

Rape, arson, burglary, homicide and thefts are called “Part I crimes” by law enforcement.  These are published by the Philadelphia Police Department every morning.   CourtWatch monitors these records as well as arrests and when it sees a match it provides much more detail about a crime.

Search All Arrests

You can perform more detailed queries from a desktop computer where the “All Arrests” button will become available [not available on mobile phones or tablets].

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This allows you to use more powerful filtering options to find details you’re interested in.

Understanding the Law

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CourtWatch rap sheets now link you directly to Pennsylvania’s updated criminal statutes, allowing you to read the section of Pennsylvania law that a criminal defendant is being charged with.

Complaints about Philly Rap Sheet Addressed in CourtWatch

One outcry of PhillyRapSheet is that it wasn’t possible for you to be forgotten.  That’s important if you were wrongly accused of a crime and you successfully get your criminal docket as well as your arrest record sequestered by the Court of Common Pleas.   Once PhillyRapSheet captured the arrest record, that was it.   As a fix, McGill would wipe out defendant’s names off the database after so many days.

CourtWatch takes a different approach with an Arrest Termination Form.

Anyone can fill out a form on CourtWatch to get their arrest record destroyed or temporarily removed, regardless of whether Common Pleas has suppressed your arrest record or not.   This allows returning citizens to be able to suppress their arrest records while they are the most vulnerable: searching for employment.

Only arrest records that have aged 45 days past the arrest date are eligible to be removed/suppressed, giving the immediate community an unfiltered view of arrests as they occur in real time.  When the form is filled out by a complainant, CourtWatch will check and see if it can view your criminal arrest record.  If the court returns an arrest record, a 120-day suppression of the arrest record on CourtWatch is applied.  The suspension can be re-applied as many times as necessary to keep the arrest record from view.

Another issue with criminal arrest Internet sites are search engines making your arrest details permanent.   CourtWatch blocks the three most-used search engines on the Internet from being able to crawl the arrest data.

Want To Code Against CourtBot?  There’s an API For It

You can explore CourtWatch’s entire database here.

Enjoy!

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It’s bland.  It’s cold.  It’s dreary.  Just like your marriage will be.

The Fishtown Neighbors Association has a zoning teed-up for this dead hulk of a PECO power station next to Penn Treaty Park.

In May 2015 proprietor Joe Volpe and his brand Cescaphe Event Group picked up the power plant for $3 million.   Developer Bart Blattstein was also mentioned last year in murmurings about the project to be in the mix.  We kinda hope Blattstein is still in there somewhere, since he hasn’t been doing all that much since his hopes and dreams of a casino in the old Inquirer Building went down the shitter.

According to a post by FNA, the intended use of the property shall be:

Proposal to reuse the existing PECO power plant for an events hall with 3 ballrooms, corporate headquarters, Floral services, (2) restaurants, 80 hotel rooms, 430 parking spaces, and a riverfront trail.

80 hotel rooms.  Sounds like you can have some really gigantic weddings in this jawn.

So far a refusal has not been issued by the Department of Licenses and Inspections for either of the two PECO properties:  1325 and 1325R Beach Street.

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A while back I ran into Greg Trainor and Christian Regosch from Philadelphia Community Corps, a non-profit with a fairly unique mission:  to recycle entire rowhomes.  In most cases where you would normally call a demolition contractor, PCC can do the work instead and can recover the material worth keeping.  PCC prefers to use the term “deconstruction”, rather than demolition.

Why do this?  Philadelphia has a very busy rehab market.  Rehabs if you don’t know are developers who take existing rowhomes and update them with either fresh new interiors or repairing customized original interiors to make old homes look like the day they were first built.   We are the country’s largest rowhouse city and most Philadelphians still live in a row home; finding original parts like doors, original flooring, staircase banisters, cornices, windows and fixtures isn’t very easy.  PCC intends to fix this problem and also provide a new avenue for local employment at the same time.

When old shells are too far gone to save and the land is to be reclaimed for something else, often there is salvagible material from that old shell that would be a perfect fit for a rehabber or your DIY fixer-upper who is searching for original sconces, bathroom tile, doors, pre 1930’s light switches and the like.

At Philadelphia Community Corps their mission is to handle home demolitions in a smarter manner, by stripping homes of their most valuable components and warehousing them for installation on other homes both old and new.  PCC aims to become a preferred demolition contractor with area GCs as well as City-ordered demolitions.  By warehousing home parts from deconstruction, they can supply other firms like Philadelphia Salvage and anyonee who seeks to supply original and authentic building materials or source them in home restoration jobs.

If you’re a general contractor, developer or real-estate pro that needs to do a demo, I strongly suggest you give these folks a call before you go with your average “knock it down and bury it into a hole” kinda contractor.   PCC is not only a more sustainable outfit, but all their workers are local and they supply a badly-needed market that’s very unique to our city.  You can’t just get original 19th century cornices at Lowe’s.

The Philadelphia Community Corps is also looking for 9-15 new board members this summer as the organization is growing. Please contact greg@philadelphiacommunitycorps.org for more details or call Greg @ (201) 956-1275

Philadelphia Community Corps – Overview

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