Fall 2008

The Newsletter of the Minnesota GIS/LIS Consortium

Table of Contents

MN GIS/LIS Consortium

2008 Conference
From the Chair

Intro to Scholarship Winners
Polaris Winners

Drive to Excellence
More Photos Online

Governor's Council
FY09 Appointments
Annual Report
Commendation Winners
Rochester Meeting

MetroGIS Geocoder

Hugo Tornado Response
New Brighton Housing

Higher Education
Chimp Behavior

Rep. Walz Honored
In Memorium: Phil Kelley

Other Places
NSGIC Addressing White Paper
Online Addressing Seminar
GIS Associations Unite



The City of New Brighton Completes Housing Condition Surveys
By Mark Andrle, City of New Brighton GIS Specialist

Cities throughout the metro area have become increasingly aware of the important role housing stock plays in the overall vitality of a community. Open the newspaper and almost every day there is another story about housing, i.e., mortgage foreclosures, vacant properties, vandalism, and the negative effects these things can have on neighborhoods and a community as a whole. New Brighton, a century-old city of 22,000 residents in northern Ramsey County, is taking a proactive approach to these trends.

One way the city has responded is to assess property conditions and the "health" of New Brighton’s housing stock. In spring of 2008, the city completed a housing condition windshield survey, which was a follow up to the first survey completed in 2005. The goal of the windshield surveys was to identify the overall condition of the city’s single family homes, including both owner-occupied and rental homes. The data from the surveys can assist city policy makers in evaluating housing maintenance options that best suit the needs of New Brighton residents.

To create the survey, Community Development Department staff first identified several structural features (roof, siding, garage, etc.) and code violations (junk, trailers, vehicles, etc.) that were to be surveyed on each property. A "failure" definition was then created for each item. For example, the failure definition for siding/paint was: If the siding or paint on the house is chipped, broken or rotted it receives a fail. When conducting the survey, each item received only a pass or fail based on its failure definition.

Next, to increase the efficiency of the data collection process, a data entry form was created using Microsoft Access. The database contained the address of each single family home and each item to be surveyed. When conducting the survey, the staff member opened the form on a laptop, entered the address then simply checked FAIL or PASS for each structural feature or code violation. The data was automatically entered into the database as a 1 for fail or 0 for pass, thus creating a condition score for each property.

It took two staff members about two months to complete the 2008 survey for the approximately 5,000 homes in New Brighton. Once complete, the dataset was joined to the city’s parcel layer using ArcGIS Desktop. The GIS staff then began the analysis process of calculating the raw survey data, mapping and identifying spatial patterns of homes with maintenance issues and comparing the 2005 and 2008 datasets. The second component of the analysis process was to identify possible relationships between property condition and other factors. The condition data was joined to other external datasets such as property values, year built, foreclosure data, homestead data, proximity to crime, proximity to non-residential land uses, etc.

Citywide map displaying areas of high concentrations of homes with at least one exterior problem.

Much of the analysis is still underway, but preliminary results indicate that there is a relationship between property condition and the age of the house, the value of the property and proximity to non-residential land uses.

Other survey results of note include:

  • In 2005 & 2008, nearly 88% of the homes had no structural condition failures.
  • In 2005, 85% of the homes had no code violation while in 2008 88% had no violations.
  • The number of homes with multiple structural condition failures increased from 63 in 2005 to 92 in 2008.
  • The number of homes with multiple code violations decreased from 146 in 2005 to 116 in 2008.
  • Roofs were the most common structural feature to fail (355 in 2008).
  • Illegally parked trailers were the most common code violation (242 in 2008).

Finally, in an effort to provide quick and easy access to the survey data, the GIS staff has also been able to post both the 2005 and 2008 survey results on the city’s internal web mapping service. By using the MapServer-created application, staff members and other policy makers can access the survey data by simply clicking on a parcel to view the survey results for that property.

For more information, contact Mark Andrle at or 651-638-2058. Find the city’s GIS website here.