5:43 pm, 01/10/2012
share | comments 
There’s a lot more to New York City than what we can see with our eyes, although maybe not as much as we can smell with our noses. Anyway, there are tools on the Internet, just clicks away, that will show you everything you ever wanted to know about New York City’s buildings, streets, zones, and places of interest. I know what you’re thinking: “we already have Mapquest!” But I can assure you, these tools “take it to the next level,” as some of the kids in my office say. You can use the information to do your own detective work on shady properties, or to find out where your nearest park is. Half of the time when constituents have questions I answer them using these sources, so I’m hoping you’ll learn to use them yourself and stop bothering me.
ACRIS is where you go to find out basically anything that has to do with building ownership, paperwork, and tax-related stuff. Make sure you look up the block and lot number of the property in question first, then use the Parcel Identifier to look up deeds, mortgages, tax liens, and what have you.
BIS generally yields the most incriminating stuff in the most direct way. Ok, it’s actually pretty rough on the eyes, and complaints take about 48 hours to be posted (this ain’t Tweeter!), but look at all of those violation reports!! You can find out whether a building is landmarked, if elevators are up to code, what construction jobs are currently on file, violations, open complaints and more, all in one place. Basically, if the New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) covers it, you’ll find it here.
HPDOnline is the New York City Housing Preservation Department’s (HPD) database for building maintenance violations. While DOB covers more of the structural issues relating to buildings, HPD covers maintenance or heating problems–the day to day crap. And yes, HPD also deals with literal crap and garbage issues, but all within housing.
You may have read my guide for calling 311 (and if not, you should!) and had the pleasure of calling NYC’s magic number about whatever broken traffic light/toothbrush in toilet/garbage in street problem you’re having. But did you know that you can see how many other people made the same complaints and whether the agencies have followed up on those issues? It’s all there on the 311 Service Request Map. The map is divided up by Community Board district so you’ll know where to annoy the crap out of all the political staffers and Board members with your problems.
The Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT) City-Wide GIS is the king of all New York City informational maps. It will show you more information on New York City streets than you ever knew your tax dollars were worth. Click on the “Show Additional Data on Map” bar on the right to find everything from spray fountains to art galleries to snow removal zones. It will also overlay every municipal zone EVER so you have no excuse for calling my office and not knowing your State Senator or Census Tract.
If you’re still confused (sheesh) or have further questions, then call your electeds!