Tinkering With Tax Data


datasette data

Using some open source tools to learn about tax data in Denver.

I wanted to see how quickly I could get a sense of the tax data in a jurisdiction. I live in Denver so I thought I’d start there.

Getting the data

Denver.gov have an Open Data Portal so grabbing all of the real property residential data was easy.

I downloaded it and took a first look using VisiData:

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wget -O denver.csv https://www.denvergov.org/media/gis/DataCatalog/real_property_residential_characteristics/csv/real_property_residential_characteristics.csv
vd denver.csv

Converting to something useful

It looks like there’s a natural primary key for each record called PARID. And since I want to start using SQL to investigate the data I cranked up my favorite toolkit for this type of thing: csvs-to-sqlite, sqlite-utils, and datasette.

Loading the data is a no-brainer:

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csvs-to-sqlite denver.csv denver.db

I tried to add a primary key but was surprised that PARID is not actually unique:

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$ sqlite-utils transform --pk parid denver.db denver-res-prop
...
...
sqlite3.OperationalError: duplicate column name: PARID

So I took a look in Datasette:

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$ datasette denver.db
INFO:     Started server process [2411]
INFO:     Waiting for application startup.
INFO:     Application startup complete.
INFO:     Uvicorn running on http://127.0.0.1:8001 (Press CTRL+C to quit)

Scrolling through the data in a table view with some sorting ability made me see that I definitely had duplicates for PARID.

The following query validated that there are about 20 instances where the PARID is duplicated:

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select PARID, COUNT(*)
from [denver-res-prop]
group by PARID
having count(*) > 1

Kind of dawned on me that CD and OFCARD columns are probably part of a compound key. This worked!

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sqlite-utils transform --pk parid --pk cd --pk ofcard denver.db denver-res-prop

And firing up datasette again now shows the first column as a link with all three values, indicating that the compound key is in place. Nice!

Now I can poke around the dataset using SQL.

Querying with GraphQL

One thing I’ve studiously been avoiding is GraphQL. And yet I read that for flexible client querying it’s the way to go. REST-ful style for your primary data work (think CRUD), but GraphQL for easy downstream use.

Luckily there’s a datasette plugin for that.

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datasette install datasette-graphql

Now restart datasette and visit the local URL such as http://127.0.0.1:8001/graphql. For example, running this query lets me find all properties owned by out-of-state people (not Colorado), that are held in trust, and that have an assessed value in excess of $100,000. That would be a real pain to code an API for. And, I get to choose which data elements (“nodes”) to include in the results.

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{
  denver_res_prop(
    filter: [
      {OWNER: {contains: "TRUST"}},
      {ASSESS_VALUE: {gt: 100000}},
      {OWNER_STATE: {not: "CO"}}
    ])
   {
    totalCount
    nodes {
      OWNER
      OWNER_STATE
      SITE_DIR
      SITE_NAME
      SITE_MODE
      SITE_MORE
      PROP_CLASS
    }
  }
}

Datasette's automatic GraphQL editor

Summary

That’s a quick look at how I can download some raw data from a public website, do a tiny bit of prep work, and have a full-featured web UI and API to poke around with the data.


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