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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Citizens' Service Bureau Records Now Password-Protected on Geo St. Louis

Geo St. Louis no longer displays records of Citizens' Service Bureau (CSB) complaints for parcels. Now, only users with passwords can access those records. The site instructs people who want a password to contact the Planning and Urban Design Agency via a generic feedback form. I wonder what precipitated the change, and I wonder who can get a password.

Many residents of Old North St. Louis, where I live, use Geo St. Louis to see just how much of a problem a property is. CSB complaints offer neighbors (and potential neighbors!) the chance to monitor the history of problem properties to determine if a recently-observed nuisance is part of a chronic pattern of neglect. Some neighborhoods lack staffed neighborhood organizations, and citizens may need direct access to CSB complaint records. Geo St. Louis has been a leader among American cities' public geospatial systems in terms of breadth and depth of information available to any site user.

While those records are public and a citizen has always been able to to obtain them with a written request, the sudden departure of open online access seems unnecessary.


Curtis Miller said...

I noticed that just today as well. I was wondering why it was all funny when I tried to take a look.

Anonymous said...

Yes, this information is helpful in the real estate business --- trying to see if there have been complains about a property or even if someone has gotten permits for work that was done.

I say make your list and start submitting Sunshine Law requests for the information.

Anonymous said...

Paul McKee must be happy.

Anonymous said...

I recommend posting a username/password on a public site like this blog. When that account gets disabled, post another username online. To make things easier, perhaps you could use the bugmenot.com service to track the latest available username/password.

If you see these usernames being disabled very quickly, then that prompts one to ask why the elves who maintain the Geo St. Louis server are so intensely curious about who choses to look up records for which property. They are intended to be public records, after all.

Anonymous said...

The CSB closed these records in response to a new ordinance (67667) which became effective in September of 2007.
Check it out at: http://stlcin.missouri.org/alderman/bbDetail.cfm?BBId=2340
This was done on the grounds that some information in these records could have resulted in retaliation against complaining parties.