California USPS Vacancy Rates: Map & Data

Did you think your postman/woman just delivered your mail? Wrong. They happen to be a rather awesome real-time crowd sourcing force for public data! When your mail is delivered and you turn out to not be there, and this keeps happening for a month, or for three months, your responsive public servants take note of this, it goes into a big database and gets spat out courtesy of HUD in a tract level file. It also happens to track business vacancies. Check it.

Some truthiness to know- no data are perfect. These suffer from many variations and local contexts that make them tricky at times, but they are an amazing resource, and these data get republished every quarter. I threw together the map above in a couple of hours, part of my playing/learning with MapBox, which I fricking love already. My biggest delay was generating these tiles for the web and realizing I had left a background layer turned on rendered blue which prevented the street layer from showing through. You learn that lesson once. Waiting 4 hours for a render job and getting unusable map layers is a bad experience.

Check the full screen version out here:

Nice map, but I want the data dammit! Fine, have it. Both shapefiles and clean csv files on our data portal:

I do get that the multiple decimal places is annoying, but I’m not re-doing this again… the map hover/click functionality also gives you the business vacancy rates too, as the baseline data for how many units of residential and commercial are in each tract for context.

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