We love real estate tools. Maps are awesome. Here’s a new one with the cute name Rich Blocks Poor Blocks that Burbed readers wahnny and Divasm both sent in this week when someone posted about it in Redfin Forums. (No link, Redfin, until you resume trackbacks to our featured homes. Neener neener.)
It’s a fairly good idea: take ACS income data for each official Census tract and show graphically how much they vary. As they say on their main page, “See how much money people make in every neighborhood in every city in America.” In theory you could use it to see how Special each part of the city is. Here’s what it looks like when it’s working as the authors intended.
Each state uses its own scale, applying the color key to its own income range. In the case of Illinois, above, the deep red, lowest income is under $23,120 and the deep green, highest income is over $106,503. There appear to be 20 different segments in the color key, although we think there’s far too much green and not enough in the red, orange, and yellow.
Since these are Google Map tools, you can zoom in and out to your heart’s delight, but you can only map one state at a time.As you can see in in the case of New Jersey, above, this tool isn’t that useful with metros that span multiple states. Fortunately, that’s not an issue even in the furthest exurbs of the Bay Area.
No, the Bay area has different issues. See what happens when we map the core RBA.
Too. Much. Dark. Green.
The California income scale ranges from $28,183.65 to $122,762.90. We hope you’re beginning to see the problem: the top 5% income for all of California seems to apply to an awful lot of Census tracts in the RBA. Or even places that are NOT in the RBA. Like this part of Santa Clara with the Oracle campus:
Contrast with an RBA tract we know is loaded: Los Altos Hills.
It’s the exact same shade of green, because the danged scale tops off far too early for the RBA. According to this map, there is no difference between northeast Santa Clara and Los Altos Hills even though the latter’s median household income is 72% higher.
If a tract in the Triangle of Lost Equity can have median household income above 95% of California, Rich Blocks Poor Blocks in the Real Bay Area might as well be called Five Red Tracts of Suck Amidst A Sea of Deep Green Money.