Archive for the ‘GIS’


Holiday Lights Poll


christmas lights originally uploaded by George Deputee

Last week’s poll asked how good your childhood memory is. While The Wife’s memory is quite good, mine is terrible. I simply don’t remember much about being a child and wonder how much of what I do remember is from pictures or later conversations with family. I’m secretly convinced this is how The Wife remembers things, considering she frequently can’t remember that I asked her to do some chore around the house, but shhh, don’t tell her I said that.

This week’s poll comes after I was out in the driveway last night watching the dog do his thing in the yard and noticed that we were the only house on the block with lights in the yard. While this is the first year in many that we’ve had lights in the yard, probably because there wasn’t snow everywhere already, I was surprised at just how few houses in our neighborhood had taken the time to do anything.

We get a lot of traffic to the Minneapolis and St. Paul Metro Area Holiday Lights Map page each year and this year is no exception. While I have deleted everything prior to 2011 this year, people are already adding new ones to the list so it’s pretty clear that people do have lights in their yards but is it less than it used to be?

Do you put lights in your yard? Did you in the past and you don’t now? If so, why? Have you noticed a drop in the number of houses decorating for the holidays? Why do you think that is? Whatever you have to say about this one go ahead and vote on the sidebar and then comment on below. After you do both of those things feel free to check out our expired polls in the archive or read through the previous posts about polls here.

Lazy Lightning Restaurant Review Map

Click here to see the map if you cannot.

Following up on a suggestion offered by a reader via last week’s survey (if you haven’t taken it yet please do as I am implementing many suggestions provided), I have developed a Lazy Lightning restaurant map for your easy review finding pleasure. While nothing fancy, this is a simple list of all the places reviewed going back through January 3rd, 2009.

There are three colored pins on the map: red, yellow, and green and those correspond to ‘don’t go’, ‘go’, ‘run’. Each pin is clickable and provides the name of the restaurant, the year reviewed, the street address which links to a zoomed in Google Map page, and the link to the review on the site (opens in a new window). If you need to get any more information you can check out the review (telephone, hours, pictures, etc).

I will be continuing to add new restaurants to the list as they come up but hope that this makes your life a little easier in finding restaurants close to you which we have enjoyed. If you have any suggestions on features feel free to comment on below and provide what you’d like to see added to future iterations!

South Metro Foreclosures: Are You Affected?

The picture above is a screenshot from the Dakota County Sheriff’s Office Foreclosure Mapper. Feel free to click through to get to the county’s map application and scroll around to see which houses in your area have been recently foreclosed upon. I have to admit I was quite surprised to find 50% of the foreclosures in my neighborhood have occurred in the last six months. This whole thing was supposed to be getting better, not worse, right? This is a topic which literally hits close to home for so many people. I know I have witnessed numerous houses go up for sale for a short time before the owner gives up and pulls the house off the market. Sometime shortly thereafter a moving van pulls up, a group loads all the worldly possessions of the family occupying the space inside and drives off never to be seen again. This scenario has been happening all over the South Metro time and time again since the beginning of the housing market failure.

In our neighborhood, including the house directly adjacent to mine, something very similar to what I mention above happened here. One of our townhouse association board members noted that many of those who foreclosed in our neighborhood simply walked away from their homes to leave it to become the bank and the association’s problem. Our association is then on the hook for the back association dues (which they try to get tacked onto the sale price if they can) which sometimes total more than $10,000! In the case of our previous next door neighbor they were just hoping to sell the unit for $120,000 which would cover what they needed to recoup. A neighbor relayed that this deadbeat family ended up moving to a new townhouse just a few miles away in Farmington where they currently reside. Seriously?

I used to mention frequently how the Apple Valley townhouses were going to become the ghetto of the South Metro. The Met Council made sure that the cities south of the river built plenty of high density neighborhoods to keep in line with what is considered forward-looking planning. The Met Council believed that high density housing would help to eliminate sprawl and bring more population under single municipalities driving up their tax revenues. An unintended consequence was that it also created large numbers of inexpensive and poorly constructed units which became ripe for an environment where a single devastating event, such as the housing market failure, quickly and drastically changed the dynamics of these neighborhoods. The numerous foreclosures have begun attracting renters of dubious quality in homes owned by people who don’t keep up their property. One house on the corner of my street, which used to house juvenile delinquents selling drugs who later graduated to crimes which appeared in the Dakota County Criminal Complaints, stills hows signs of damage from that group’s stay. Why? Because those who moved in don’t care as long as the rent stays cheap. The rest of us, who have been here for years and take care of our homes, get the shaft. At least one long-time neighbor (an original owner) is going to sell at her first opportunity, possibly at a loss, just so she can get out before it gets any worse. Such a shame.

So how about you? How many foreclosures are occurring in your neighborhoods? Are the numbers going up, down or staying about the same? Have you noticed the dynamics of your neighborhood change (upkeep of properties, renters, crime)? Are you fearful that because of the foreclosures and the resultant vacant properties/bad renters/destructive foreclosed owners that the South Metro may degrade its previously healthy image? Are you considering a move, even if it were at a loss, to leave your neighborhood? Whatever you have to say about foreclosures go ahead and comment on as I’d love to hear what you have to say.

Dakota County Criminal Complaints Mapped, Again

If you can remember that long ago, back in early 2009 I mapped a bunch of Dakota County Criminal Complaints by defendant zip codes and color coded them based on how many of the accused came from a particular zip code. While hardly perfect, it was an interesting data experiment for me and one that got a bit of attention on the site.

Well, fast forward to 2010 and to my various other posts which scrape data and map, plot, and create crime dashboards for Dakota and County counties as well as a map/dashboard of all the Level 3 sex offenders in the state. I have wanted to update the Dakota County Criminal Complaints map for sometime and automate it as well and I finally got around to doing it.

Please note:

1. This data is from the last rolling 30 days and is compiled from the Dakota County Criminal Complaints Archive which is updated once a day at 3 PM.

2. The individuals listed here have been charged with a crime(s) but are not necessarily guilty.

3. The addresses are rough approximations. While I do have the actual addresses they reported I decided to plot only street, city, state, zip instead of the full on address. You’ll live.

4. This will update once a day at 4 PM.

5. Enjoy.