Gavin Newsom, Other/Just Looking in San Francisco, CA

When deciding where to live, what local information do you want at your fingertips?

Asked by Gavin Newsom, San Francisco, CA Wed Sep 9, 2009

The City of San Francisco recently launched DataSF.org, an initiative designed to improve access to government data and encourage developers to create new software applications from that data. We are
asking the Trulia Voices community to figure out what new information sources we should make publicly available. The initial version of DataSF.org includes more than 100 datasets, from a range of city departments, including updated crime incident data from the San Francisco Police Department and restaurant inspection data from the Department of Public Health.

Help the community by answering this question:

Answers

99
First, congratulations to the Mayor for using this forum to gather information. It's really great, and it shows commitment to hearing the voice of the people, and also to use the latest and greatest in terms of technology.

to answer the question, I would like to have access to the following information by neighborhood:
- crime
- public transportation
- parks
- schools (if possible, with access to a grade/quality classification of all city schools by neighborhood)
- population density (how many people per sq. mile)
- free parking? zone parking? paid-only parking?
- restaurant
- distance to supermarket/market
- weekly farmers market?
- distance from highways
- noise levels (very important in a city crossed by highways in many areas)
- traffic volume
- museums
- cinemas
- open studios (and other informal but regular art happenings)
...

I could go on, but will stop here.
congrats again on this initiative, it's genious!
5 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Sep 9, 2009
since i am thinking about buying a place, here are some things that I care about

- crime data
- income data
- property tax information
- school performance data
- parks and number of trees in the area
- street parking info
- walkability score
- car accident information
- the weather for the area, how much sun does it really get
- % of low income of subsidized housing in the area
4 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Sep 21, 2009
Knowing where the people receiving welfare, social services, entitlements actually live in San Francisco County goes right along with knowing the block by block neighborhood crime rates. I want to live in a neighborhood where the people work for a living rather than are home all day and getting checks mailed to them. It makes a big difference in the qualify of life in a neighborhood if there is a large percentage of people receiving high levels of long term government assistance. I want to know where those neighborhoods are within San Francisco so I can avoid them and the problems surrounding multigenerational welfare recipients. San Francisco is known for it's broad base of free social services, people actually move there for the government assistance available. So, for the San Francisco neighborhood communities this is a larger issue than most other counties in the U.S. I lived many years in San Franciso and surrounding counties. It was a lovely city until it became overrun with entitlement programs and street people. There's something wrong when people are allowed to crap on the street but you must pick up after your dog. Love San Francisco, hate what has happened to it. Have watched for over 60 years now as it has degenerated. It is no longer a place for small children to play. Gavin is capable of uniting the people and making San Francisco a model city on the planet. It's time.
4 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Sep 12, 2009
Hello Mayor Newsom,

I'm so pleased to welcome you to Trulia Voices! This is a great question and you've received many fantastic answers so far.

Parking availability and permit zone information top my list. I live at the edge of a parking permit zone but my address doesn't qualify me for a permit and I thus miss out on a lot of available parking spaces and had I known that I might have chosen to live on another block.

I would also love to see a map that shows street cleaning dates and times. Because they differ so much for each street and block, it's so easy to forget when I need to move my car. I know the city benefits from the hefty fines, but I think a lot of us would be a lot happier if we could check out street cleaning info on the internet.

Public transportation routes and average commute times are a must as well. It's one thing to know that public transportation is available, but another to know that it often runs late or has mechanical failures that will stretch out the commute time.

I hope this is a helpful answer and I look forward to seeing DataSF.org evolve.

Best Wishes,

Emily Gibson
Community Moderator
4 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Sep 11, 2009
I think the big, important things are: schools ratings and scores, crime information, ability for the area to retain/improve it's value, local shops, parking/traffic/public transportation access and businesses in the area (eg, universities). This would be very helpful and would be a great way for San Francisco to take the lead here!

Thanks,
3 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Sep 21, 2009
As a student I would want to know information about:

the local universities and colleges in the area
local job listings
availability of housing
the public library
public transportation
demographics of neighborhoods to find a student friendly area.
3 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Sep 21, 2009
As a Realtor I have a variety of different responses but here is what I personally look for. The items that I see from my buyers most is.... schools, cost, taxes, Hoa's. I think this will be a great tool for the consumers and perhaps will help neighborhoods rise to a better level of appeal. Love San Fansisco, such an unique look to it. I do not live in San Francisco but these would be a consideration if I did.
Crime
Schools
Well cared for neighborhood
Areas for walking
Taxes
Noise
Street Traffic
Energy Effiecent
Nearby activites shopping, entertainment
I like home builders that has taken the time to have some character to the outside of the homes including having courtyards. In addition I really think the friendly appeal of neighbors walking and involved in the area is something neighborhoods are missing these days. I think the more active the neighborhood, the more you will see a decrease in crime. So perhaps creating a walking Friday day or something to get people out and about and meeting each other would create a great atmosphere for all to live in. Back to basics, neighbors watching out for other neighbors, a true community!
3 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Sep 10, 2009
1) Safety, 2) Walking access to grocery stores, restaurants, cinema, shops, downtown etc., 3) Access to transportation
2 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Sep 22, 2009
When shopping for a home, I'm constantly trying to gauge how friendly an area is to walkers. So I'd love to see data that shows what the transportation options are, if there are any nifty food options nearby, where the bike paths are, and of course whether I should be outside at all (i.e. crime data). For quality of life purposes, I'd also like to know about any pending or approved developments in the area.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Sep 21, 2009
I'd like to know...
* how far the police and fire stations are from a given point (i.e. my house)
* availability of public transportation, both within SF and to/from other places in the area
* crime rate
* median income in the area
* turnover of housing stock (i.e. how often do homes in the area change owners, or how long local owners have owned their homes)
* ratio of homeowners to renters
* availability of parking for cars and service vehicles (UPS, moving vans)
* proximity to parks and recreation (pools, etc)
2 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Sep 21, 2009
To be perfectly honest, I need to know what parking is like in any given area of town. I need to know if street cleaning on Wednesday is going to make Tuesday night's parking a nightmare. Restaurants and crime are actually already covered by private services, the city needs to make the data that we DON'T HAVE available; MUNI reliability, property tax adjustments, that kind of thing would be helpful and only the city has it.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Sep 21, 2009
Here are a few items I would be interested knowing:
# of homeless
crime stats
tax rates
foreclosures
school info
public transport options
hospitals
2 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Sep 21, 2009
Hi Mayor Newsom,

It is so great to see you on Trulia, this is such a great question.
When deciding where to live the type of local information that I care about is:
- Community of people that live around me
- Quality of schools in the vicinity
- Crime/safety (crime rates, walking at night safety)
- Green areas and environmental factors (pollution, recycling, etc)
- Local businesses (restaurants, dry cleaners, cafes, super markets, etc)
- Parking availability and safety

Thanks!
Irit
2 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Sep 21, 2009
First and foremost I want to feel safe in a neighborhood. I want to be able to walk home without looking over my shoulder. I enjoy seeing the police in the area when not involved with criminal activity, so I guess this translates into crime rate. Also school performance statistics would be important along with proximity to the neighborhood.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Sep 21, 2009
This is a progressive step towards transparent governance. Kudos to Gavin on such an exciting initiative. My interests would be:

- crime
- schools (down to the neighborhood level)
- new residential projects in the area
- parks
- public transportation
- distance to supermarket/market/farmer's markets
- restaurants & cinemas
- distance from highways
- noise levels (as deciphered by traffic volume)
- demographics of the city neighborhood
2 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Sep 21, 2009
The information that would be most important to me are the quality of schools in the neighborhood, the distance of nearest police station, fire station, and hospital, the crime rates in the area, the weather, the access to public transportation, and the rates of unemployment and jobs.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Sep 21, 2009
My wish list would be:

- property tax (including Mello-Roos if applicable) info
- crime rates
- map of restricted parking and street cleaning info
- town meeting information
2 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Sep 21, 2009
according to me, most important factors to consider are:

1. crime rate
2. medical facilities
3. recreational activities (both for adults and children; can include parks, sports grounds, museums, summer camps for children etc.)
4. transportation facilities
5. markets
6. educational facilities (schools and colleges)
7. good neighborhood
2 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Sep 21, 2009
When deciding where to live, you might want to check out vicinity to your employment, local establishments, the cost of needed services, hospitals, schools, crime rate. Check out the things that are most important to you.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Sep 17, 2009
As a young woman interested in starting a family within a few years, when I buy my next home, it will be critical for me to know the quality of the schools in the area, the average time it takes to get in and out of the home and neighborhood information regarding crime, traffic and community development trends.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Sep 16, 2009
I would stick with the basics, and that would be:

1. Security
2. Cost of Living
3. Establishments
4. Vicinity

With that in mind you can never go wrong.
Web Reference: http://flintbankowned.com
2 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Sep 15, 2009
Hi,
Greetings.
My priority will be what are the approved plans in the area in the next 5 years, 10 years.

I believe the future is more important than the past. What is going to happen. I am a realtor, some investors are from oversea, or out of town, they are interested to know , as investment in properties are long term investments.

Moxa Chiu, CDPE, ePRO, SRES,RCS-D
San Mateo
Web Reference: http://www.moxachiu.com
2 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Sep 13, 2009
I get my data from City-Data.com. They have almost everything i am interested in.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Sep 13, 2009
Handicap accessibility. Parking. Restrictions on pets, if any.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Sep 12, 2009
Social Demographic... what is the cultural atmosphere? Conservative, liberal, progressive? What is the cost of living? How much are taxes? How much house can I get for $300,000.00? What is the income of the people?
2 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Sep 11, 2009
I'd like to know whether the city is going to post notices around the neighborhood before they decide to ticket people for not feeding the meters on a HOLIDAY.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Sep 10, 2009
If I am looking to buy a house the first thing I would like to know is if any major crimes or violent deaths occurred there (when digging in the back yard I don't want to find bodies or stolen money) secondly I want to know that there are no giant transformers, major power plants or huge cell towers too close by or planned to be located close by. I also want to know if it is on sewer or septic and if it is on septic I want to know if sewer will become available, when and how much. I would also like to know how up to date the power, water and gas lines are, and what types of cable and or satellite service is available. Its common to assume you can get any cable or satellite you want but I have found that is often not the case. Also important the distance to the nearest fire, police and hospital.

I think its essential to know what the crime statistics are, if there are gangs in the area, if it is a flood zone and what the fire risk level is for the area. I think it should be (and probably is) required to let a buyer know presale what the property taxes are and if there are any homeowner association/additional fees required.

and finally as someone trapped in a manufactured home in a mobile home park, I would have liked someone to tell me; the odds of selling it if I needed to (nil), the cost of moving it if I couldn't sell it, and the fact that my rent could go up well beyond the price of a house payment with no cap.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Sep 10, 2009
property tax structures: how each local entity charges and pays for property taxes and an explanation of each entity that is on the tax bill,fiscal year,purpose,etc.
how is trash pic-up paid for: paid in the annual taxes/or paid individually on a monthly/weekly basis?
are there drainage districts to pay for on the annual tax bill?
are there water districts to pay for on the annual tax bill?
park and rec areas in the community: hours of operation and fees to be paid at each area.
contact websites for the state government offices for motor vechile registration/bike/boat/airplane/atv's.
how to join various organizations:kid sports,4-H, boy scouts/girl scouts,volunteer and charity organizations.
these are just a few of the questions that are asked a REALTOR, from new people coming into an area.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Sep 10, 2009
Crime and Police Protection
Accesibility to statistics of Sex Offenders
Zoning regulations, so that I don't buy a house that will be in the middle of
an Interstate highway, 5 years from purchase.
Laws that protect the value of my property, so that my neighbors don't
park Tractor Trailers in their yards, or bring junk cars to their driveway
for restoration.
Taxes that are fair, and equitable, depending on the true value of your
home. Local Government that is transparent, and respects the
tax payer. No closed door meetings.
Transportation for Seniors
Information on Churchs, & Synagogues
Neighbors who respect each other's privacy, and have a sense
of Community spirit and are of like mind.
Access to Interstate Highways
Excellent employment opportunities
Adequate water supply.
No Nuclear Power plants.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Sep 10, 2009
This is great Mayor Newsom. I would note there are packets available at the Chamber of Commerce for business people relocating to SF. SF Convention and Visitor's Bureau also has packets to give out. I would include your website at http://www.sfgov.org for that gives a lot of information (in fact I include it under RESOURCES - LINKS on my website.) The police website is a must but one can find it on your site as well. There are also links to sites that rate schools which would be helpful to quite a few parents trying to find a good school for their children. I use http://www.greatschools.net as well as the website for SF Unified School District.

Crime comes out on top for my clients in their decisions where to live. And most are concerned about neighorhoods and things to do nearby. Neighbor data is available at Neighborhood Navigator gives community information by zip codes. SF Station gives info on restaurants etc. There are probably many more like that but I do not know them.....

Public transportation is also important and I give my clients SFMTA's http://www.nextbus.com for transit information. For clients truly concerned about recycling I give them sfenvironment.org to find out sites for larger items and used computer items. Hope that helps a bit.

Cheers,

Sally
2 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Sep 9, 2009
Here is what's the most important to me:

1. Crime statistics: It has to be safe, otherwise i don't even consider it
2. Urban feel: I want to be able to walk everywhere! restaurants, shops, cafés
3. Parks: Nothing better than being able to take a walk in a park, especially during sunny SF days!
2 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Sep 9, 2009
I applaud you, Mayor Gavin Newsom for using this format and for developing what is needed. I think this sort of database will be highly helpful to the community since many of our clients are asking us (Realtors) about how do they find information on..... crime, etc. so a one stop ship would be fabulous. I also would like to see a "how to" or "FAQ" page in regard to changes or new laws that the city passes so people could find out how to do something (example - like find a towed car), or FAQ example would be how does the recent water conservation change affect sellers, buyers, what forms, etc.

Kathryn Golden
2 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Sep 9, 2009
Taxes, crime, public transportation, and police/fire stations.

Gregory Garver - Commercial Real Estate Broker
Broker License# 01716531
(415)225-9894
gregory.garver@gmail.com
http://www.gregorygarver.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 18, 2009
Access to transporation, especially public. Even with a car, I would like to know how to get around town from home using public transit. Correspondingly, the availability of street and public parking would be good to know.

Also, key points of interest would be nice, like libraries, museums, schools, etc.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Sep 21, 2009
Number of bakeries in the area would be nice, because I love cookies.

But, mainly crime and tax rates.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Sep 21, 2009
Availability of street parking, proximity to work, good grocery stores in the area, such as Trader Joes, and Whole Foods and also smaller local produce stores, at least one coffee shop with wireless, nearby sports club, easy access to freeways and general proximity to downtown and/or other central areas.

Thanks
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Sep 21, 2009
crime rate
Parking availability free or paid in area where living and safety
public transport options
parks
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Sep 21, 2009
I want to know about community amenities & services - anything that I can get for free! Libraries (free books), free classes/lectures, parks, shuttles/public transit, free medical clinics, free public events (street fairs, performances), etc. Anything that can give me a better sense of my quality of life in the area!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Sep 21, 2009
Maybe all hospitals and civil services centers in the city, and drill down a couple of levels to provide more specific data. ie.( hospitals services provided, doctors names, police run community centers like the PAL program.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Sep 21, 2009
I would like to see any construction permits issued on the property. It would help to find out what major remodeling or repair was done, if any.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Sep 21, 2009
Gavin...so good to see you on Trulia. Thanks for the great question! When deciding where to live I feel that there is an assortment of factors to take into consideration. Here are my top 3...

1) Access to public transportation.
2) Is the property within walking distance to restaurants, cafes and nightlife
3) And because I'm putting long hours in at work...is my home located in a part of town that is safe at night?

Thanks Mr. Mayor for your question!

Aaron
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Sep 21, 2009
I can't disagree with the "crime, schools, taxes" meme. But let me second the idea of giving good info about the City's master plans for neighborhoods. I rent in Eastern SOMA and would like to buy. As much as I've read, I can't quite get a handle on what the implications are for all of the neighborhood plans.

Crime stats and noise levels are easy. Helping us deeply understand what a neighborhood could look like in 10 years is where the real work lies.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Sep 20, 2009
Fortunately in Newport, Rhode Island, the crime rate is relatively low and I tell clients to go on line or talk to the police department for verification. I do emphasize that most newport residents are carpet baggers like myself and are drawn to this locale because of its beauty, cosmopolitan mix and accessibilty to new york and boston. I do not hesitate to also say that real estate taxes are high, services low,and public school system not performing well. If I have a customer looking in an area where I do not know the school system well I offer to refer them to a agent that is more knowledgeable about that town. So far no customer has taken me up on my offer.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Sep 16, 2009
Hello Gavin,

It's great to see you request input from others. To me, it shows you care.

You may find it helpful to see what others are doing. Below is a link to our county and the information they provide:
http://www.co.jackson.or.us/

Sincerely,
Crystal Beard
Ambient Home Lending
crystal@ambientlending.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Sep 14, 2009
I want to know history of real estate taxes, ratings and locations of schools and hospitals,
the usual population overviews, history of town's political affiliations, availability
of farmers' markets, organic stores, CSA suppliers, reviews of restaurants, cultural events, etc.
Thank you for asking.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Sep 14, 2009
contact information for ASL interpreters, deaf access around SF, and historical background on many hidden gems, and "did you know..." questions about SF, too...
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Sep 12, 2009
Gavin, the question I get asked most is school "ranking". How schools in the various districts perform on various testing. While the information of the delineation of the districts is relatively easy to find, the school's performance is not.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Sep 12, 2009
In moving to Oregon I was surprised there was no single source of how to become an Oregonian. We have stitched the info needed but in this era of heightened security its important to know the requirements for moving. At a minimum one needs to know how to gain the vote, how to open financial accounts which often require evidence of residence/domicile, what is required for changing drivers licence and vehicle registration, etc. These changes are not as simple as they were once. More information will prevent surprises and disappointments.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Sep 11, 2009
As America ages, two of the most important features would be universal design and energy efficiency. Can a person on a walker, in a wheelchair, visually or hearing impaired access all areas of the house, plumbing, electrical and storage facilities? How is the house rated for gas, electric or alternative energy sources?
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Sep 10, 2009
This is a great question. For me, it would be on local governmental rules and guidelines. There's nothing worse than to move your whole family and life to only to find out that you do not agree with the rules and guidelines. But, of course you will know about it when you're in escrow in inspection period. Although, it would be nice if you knew prior, so you won't waste your time.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Sep 10, 2009
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