The Compass - eNews from Baltimore Planning

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The Compass is a monthly eNewsletter of the Baltimore City Department of Planning.

July, 2014

A Message from the Director…

This month’s Compass is chock-full of information sure to excite all data wonks, as well as anyone who simply wants to know more about what’s happening in Baltimore neighborhoods.

For starters, I am pleased to announce the release of the Planning Department’s new Neighborhood Profiles and Interactive Mapping Tool. Community members, neighborhood organizations, investors,  non-profits and decision-makers may now more easily examine the characteristics of the neighborhoods where they live, do business or provide services. The interactive website can be used to compare 2000 and 2010 Census data on population, race, age, and more.

At the site, you'll also find downloadable PDFs containing the most recent 2006-2010 American Community Survey statistics, which are a more detailed profile of Baltimore’s neighborhood populations. Although we urge caution in interpreting the results of small area survey data, we hope you find the information useful.

The Research and Strategic Planning (RSP) Division oversees data and research related work within the Planning Department. They prepare the quarterly report on residential activity and trends in the City, that was introduced in the Compass in 2013. The second quarter report for 2014 is included in this month’s edition, and includes comparisons from previous quarters. 

An annual comparison to see how Baltimore is performing from year-to-year, will appear in future editions.

This month's Compass also features the 2014 Housing Market Typology update, being completed in partnership with the Department of Housing and Community Development.

Also, don’t forget to join us at Baltimore Data Day on July 25. This is a wonderful opportunity to gather with  community leaders, research professionals, and neighborhood organizations to learn more about open data, research, and the tools available to you and your organization.

By understanding the data, we can more clearly see where we've been, where we are, and assess the future trends to guide decisions and help make Baltimore the most livable City it can be.

Thomas J. Stosur, Director


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Registration is now open for the 5th Annual Baltimore Data Day

This year, the 5th annual Baltimore Data Day is being held on Friday, July 25th in collaboration with the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, the Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance-Jacob France Institute, and the Johns Hopkins Urban Health Initiative Reverse Research Day. 

This year’s theme is "Using Indicators for Community Change." The event, which will be held at the University of Baltimore’s Thumel Business Center,  is FREE and open to the public. To view the full agenda and get registration information, please click here.

Data Day Logo

Baltimore Data Day is an annual workshop to help communities expand their capacity to use technology and data in the advancement of community goals. Community leaders, nonprofit organizations, governmental entities, and community members come together to discuss the latest trends in community-based data, technology and tools.

image of Citizens Discussing Topics at Data Day

The Planning Department encourages community members and neighborhood organizations to participate and engage in the dialogue.  Registration is capped at 200 participants, so be sure to register for this FREE event today!

Photo of Presentation at Data Day

Data Day Pre- Event Reception and Key Note:

“Building a Smarter City: Using Data and Technology to Increase Opportunity, Livability, and Investment.”

The Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, Baltimore Office will be hosting a Data Day pre-event at 502 South Sharp Street on Thursday, July 24 from 3 to 5 pm. 

The Brooking Institutions Metropolitan Policy Program’s Adie Tomer and Daniel O’Neil, Executive Director of the Smart Chicago Collaborative, will speak on “Building a Smarter City: Using Data and Technology to Increase Opportunity, Livability, and Investment.”

There is no cost to attend, but registration is required at this link.


Coming in September...

EcoDistricts Summt

This September 24-26, Washington, DC will host the sixth annual EcoDistricts Summit, a unique gathering of the world’s most innovative city makers. Sustainable district-scale development projects are emerging in cities worldwide, and the Summit will feature information-rich education sessions, inspiring keynotes, hands-on mobile workshops, and in depth studio sessions designed to share field reports and test emerging best practices from North America and beyond. Learn more about the program, register for the Summit, and use code ECOROOKIE to obtain a 15% discount (on top of already low early bird prices) on full conference registration for all new EcoDistricts Summit participants.  Hurry! This discount expires Tuesday, July 15.


Planning Releases New Neighborhood Profiles and Interactive Mapping

The Planning Department is introducing a new set of data tools for online use, that feature updated neighborhood profiles.  The new neighborhood profiles combine population statistics from the 2000  and 2010 Census counts with socioeconomic data from the 2006-2010 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates.  The American Community Survey (ACS) is the U.S. Census Bureau’s annual household survey, which replaced the ‘long form’ data collected during the 2000 Census.  

Sample Image of Interactive Map

Above: Example of the interactive neighborhood profile map.

The neighborhood profiles can be accessed in two ways.  A direct link to the data tables can be found here.  In addition to data tables, the Planning Department created an interactive map that highlights  changes in population between the 2000 Census and the 2010 Census.  The interactive map includes a swipe feature, allowing you to pan back and forth between maps to view where the changes in population have taken place since 2000. The map includes links to the detailed neighborhood profiles.  Here is the link to the interactive map (best viewed in Chrome or Firefox).

The interactive map can be used to view the following data sets:

  • 2000 Census
  • 2010 Census
  • 2006-2010 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates

The Planning Department partnered with Johns Hopkins University, Sheridan Libraries, Morgan State University, University of Maryland,  the University of Baltimore, BNIA and the Jacob France Institute to update these data profiles.  The partnership contracted with the Census Bureau for a special tabulation of the ACS data for Baltimore at the neighborhood-level, since we are a “city of neighborhoods”, and the data is therefore much more useful.

When comparing the 2006-2010 ACS data with 2000 Census survey data, here are some of the key citywide findings: 

  • The percent of the population with a bachelor degree or higher grew from 19% to 25%
  • The amount of foreign born population grew by about 47%

Residential Development Trends

When Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced her goal to grow the City by 10,000 households by 2020, Planning staff was confronted with the challenge of how to best monitor population growth, knowing that there would not be any official count until the 2020 Census itself.  To help gauge our progress, , the Planning Department is tracking new residential units that reflect development trends throughout the City and signal additional population and households. Units within large development projects (those with 15 or more units) are calculated at three stages:

    • Approved (eligible to submit a construction permit),
    • Under construction (construction permit issued),
    • and Completed (use/occupancy permit issued).

    Image of Avalon Apartments

    Approved residential developments are projects that are reviewed in the Planning Department, and are tracked up until final approval. Units undergoing approval are considered to be in the “planning pipeline,” or are currently under review, whether for compliance with zoning, urban design or site standards.  

    Analyzing permit data provided by Baltimore Housing, the Research and Strategic Planning Division tracks these projects through the construction phase to completion. A project reaches the completed stage once all the residential units have received a use and occupancy permit. 

     Additional analysis is conducted to determine the number of units for smaller residential projects (fewer than 15 units), which are then added to the total unit count. To track trends Planning uses 2010 as the base year, and will update the data on a quarterly basis, which will then be published in future editions of the Compass.

    Image of Mill #1 Project

    Rounding out the analysis, the Planning Department relies on Housing’s data on Vacant Building Notices to track the net increase or decrease in residential vacancies in the City. Below are key findings from this quarter’s report,

    Development Status Since 2010 (~15 units or more)

    Completed Units:  Since 2010, 4,408 new housing units have been completed.

    Under Construction:  3,232 units are currently under construction.

    Approved:  1,729 units are currently approved, or are in the planning pipeline.

    Vacant Building Notices: Since 2010, the number of housing units with vacant building notices have declined by 359 units.

    A substantial number of units, or 3,936 units, fall into the Additional Units category, which are those within individual projects with fewer than 15 units.

    Illustration of Greektown Townhome Development

    In the second quarter, overall residential permit activity (including additional units) in the City increased 17 percent from the first quarter, or by 1,225 units. Approved units alone increased by 54 percent, followed by those under construction at 7 percent, and completed at 4 percent. These numbers reflect growth in residential development throughout the City, and are a good indicator of economic  activity and potential growth in population and households.

    Department of Planning Launches the 2014 Housing Market Typology

    This July, the Department of Planning will kick off the 2014 Housing Market Typology (HMT) update. This will be the fourth analysis conducted of Baltimore’s neighborhoods since the initial study in 2005. Every three years, Planning works with the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) and The Reinvestment Fund to develop a typology based on market factors to assist with various public intervention strategies, ranging from code enforcement to targeting capital improvements to acquisition, demolition and site assembly, throughout the City.

    The typology will be used to assist city government, local foundations and non-profits to understand local market strengths and to appropriately match neighborhood strategies to market conditions for the best use of public and private resources. In addition, the typology will inform neighborhood level planning efforts, providing residents with an understanding of how local housing market forces are affecting their communities.

    Some of the primary uses in decision-making include the following:

    • Informing the Vacants to Value strategy to address the vacant housing challenge.
    • Informing the holding capacity (or build-out) used in developing the City’s cooperative population forecast with the Baltimore Metropolitan Council.
    • Informing Neighborhood Master Plan and City Comprehensive Plan policies and recommendations.
    • Identifying the middle housing markets where traditional code enforcement will be more effective.
    • Identifying the distressed housing markets where traditional code enforcement will be less effective.

    This year the analysis will allow for the comparison with the previous typology developed in 2011, depicting trends in the market over the 2011-2013 period. With assistance from The Reinvestment Fund, City staff will analyze the following variables:

    • Median Home Sales Price
    • Subsidized Rental Stock
    • Commercial Land to Residential Ratio
    • Housing Units per Square mile
    • Residential Permits
    • Vacant Lots & Vacant Properties
    • Foreclosure Filings
    • Owner vs. Renter Occupancy

    The HMT process is guided by a Task Force consisting of non-profit community organizations, community developers, foundations, and academic institutions, as well as private entities such as banks and private developers. Through a series of meetings and windshield surveys of the City, the participants provide valuable input on the variables used in the analysis, and the classification of the housing market types.

    The final HMT will help government officials and community stakeholders to identify and comprehend the various elements of the local real estate market. These groups will then be able to craft targeted intervention strategies in weak markets, and support sustainable growth in stronger market segments. 2011’s typology is depicted below. The 2014 map will be available on the Department of Planning’s website in early 2015.

    Housing Typology Map of Baltimore