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GIS Helps Tallahassee, Florida, Reduce Noise, Illegal Parking
College Town Adopts Rooming House Registration
Tallahassee is not only the capital of Florida, it is also a college town—home of Florida A&M University, Florida State University, and Tallahassee Community College. These schools have a combined enrollment of approximately 60,000 students, which brings an increased demand for rental units.
Often, the rental units are single-family dwellings in residential communities and draw complaints from neighbors about party noise and cars parked on lawns. These residents feel that property values are being threatened by the actions of these renters.
In response to neighborhood concerns, the Tallahassee City Commission adopted the Rooming House Ordinance in September 2000 to address dormitory-style housing in existing single-family residential neighborhoods. The ordinance is designed to help protect the character and stability of the city's neighborhoods while respecting individual property rights.
The ordinance established a registration process that prohibits rooming houses in single-family residential zoning districts, with the exception of those existing before June 2001. As part of the registration process, property owners must appoint an agent who lives in the county to be responsible for the property. This designated agent, who must be available 24/7, receives all notices from the city concerning the use of the property. Rooming house owners are required to register annually with the city's Growth Management Department. The Code Enforcement Division of the department is responsible for maintaining the listing and monitoring the properties by pinpointing registered properties and ascertaining relevant information. The city relies on ArcInfo as a result of many years of using Esri products and being pleased with its functionality. Before using ArcInfo, this information was only listed in table format with no visual representation.
The Growth Management Department has made the map interactive and available to citizens via the city's Web site so that they may contact the rooming house agent if there is a need or to determine if a house in their neighborhood has been designated as a rooming house.
The department started the initiative by taking the table of information and geocoding addresses against tax identification numbers. It then used symbology to show the properties, with little red-roofed houses as the points. When a citizen hovers the mouse pointer over a house, an information box pops up with the address and a message to click on the icon for more information. The available information includes the agent's name and contact number, the permit number, and whether the home is current on registration. The agent's name, contact number, rooming house number, and status are all queried from the Growth Management Department permit database.
ArcInfo is used in connection with ArcGIS Server: ArcInfo generates the map, which is published to ArcGIS Server, and is used to maintain and update the data that is seen by the public on the Web site; ArcGIS Server automatically updates the map from the changes made in ArcInfo.
This interactive map reduces the number of phone calls coming into the office, since citizens have the ability to search for properties to see the registered agents along with their phone numbers. There is also information available from the police department on the time, kind, and number of complaints issued against a property.
GIS has simplified a very difficult undertaking. With its ability to use mapping and information tools, as well as geocode addresses to parcel identification, GIS empowers citizens and allows the department to keep them updated while freeing staff to perform other duties.
For more information, contact Denise O'Neal, City of Tallahassee, Florida (e-mail: Denise.Oneal@talgov.com, tel.: 850-891-7073).