Frequently-Asked Questions


the
basics

What does it do?

Urbics draws on county property tax roll data to provide insight into the economic health of cities, counties, school districts and any other area that receives property tax revenue. Urbics is designed to answer questions about how much the tax base has grown, what properties are driving the growth, who are the largest property owners and who owns a particular parcel.
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What reports are available?

The basic reports include assesed valuation; year-to-year change in valuation; largest property owners; summary and detail by parcel, tax rate area code and land use; overlapping jurisdictions; and historical data. All basic reports include data from the secured, unsecured and utility rolls, and all reports are linked to detailed data. Additional reports are available for other data sources, such as tax collections, supplemental roll, assessment appeals, AB8 apportionment factors and others (availability varies by county).
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What is the Base Page?

This is the 'Home Page' for the Urbics system. From the Base Page, you can choose a new report or select a new reporting area. You can return to it at any time by clicking on the 'Base Page' link at the top of any report.
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What is a Reporting Area?

A reporting area is a geographic area that serves as the basis for reports. It can be a city, a redevelopment project area, a school district, a group of parcels defined by the user or other area. When you change to a different reporting area any report you view will show data just for that area. The basic reporting areas used in Urbics are defined by the State Board of Equalization; users can also create their own areas.
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How do I change the Reporting Area?

From your Base Page, select the `Switch Reporting Area` link, and simply click through to the area you want, or choose from the 'Recent Areas' listing (Urbics keeps track of the last ten areas you used). The 'My Areas' list allows you to quickly return to particular areas - just add your current area to the list. Once you've switched areas, all reports you select will be specific to the new reporting area. (Users with accounts limited to single areas are not able to change areas).
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How do I create a new Reporting Area

Select `Modify Reporting Area` on the Base Page, then select the `Create` link. Enter a name for the new area, then decide how it will be defined - by parcel numbers, tax rate area codes or as a group area. You can choose to create the area as a clone of your current reporting area (it will be pre-filled with the same parcel numbers or tax rate areas as your current area) or as a `blank` area with no initial content. You can have Urbics list the new area in the same category as the current reporting area (as a city, for example) or in a separate category for user-defined areas (Urbics adds your new area to the `My Areas` list, so you can always find it there). Once created, you can add or eliminate parcel numbers, tax rate area codes or sub-areas to your new area - in fact, your current reporting area can be added or removed as a whole from your new area. Your new area will be treated as any other Reporting Area by Urbics - all reports will be available for it. Your area will be available only to you - other users will not have access to it. For organizations with multiple users, new Reporting Areas can be optionally shared among users within the organization.
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How do I change the name of a Reporting Area?

Most of the reporting area names are created by the State Board of Equalization and there are occasional misspellings and obscure abbreviations. Use the `Manage Reporting Areas` link on your Base Page to create an alternate spelling for the area (this will be visible only to you). Of course, any area you have defined yourself can be changed directly.
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What is an Owner Alias Name?

Owner Alias Names, also known as Alternate Names, are names you create and assign to one or more owner names. For example, create `XYZ CORPORATION` and assign it to both `XYZ CO` AND `XYZ CORP`. When you display certain reports using Alternate Names, you`ll see a single listing for the `XYZ CORPORATION` that combines the other names. You can also search using the alias name; the results will include the different spellings.
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How can I get all records for an owner to appear together?

Often, property records contain different spellings of the same name, making it difficult to accurately identify all properties under a single ownership. Urbics offers a way to overcome this using `alias`, or alternate, names. Select `Manage Owner Alias Names` and create an umbrella name for an owner. You then select the names you want to be associated with this alias. This alternate name can be used in many Urbics reports to group these different names together under one name, and can be used when searching for the owner (the name as it appears on the roll is never changed). Names you create are not visible to other users, although organizations with multiple users can choose to have particular alias names visible to other users in the organization..
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What is a Tax Rate Area?

All properties in California are assigned to a tax rate area code within a county. Each code represents a particular mix of jurisdictions, and the codes are used by counties to allocate property tax revenue among the jursidictions. Urbics uses tax rate area codes to define jurisdictions for reporting.
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What are the other fiscal years I see at the top of the reports?

Urbics maintains historical data for all counties. The report you`re viewing is usually available for whichever years are shown in the menu. Obviously, only the years for which we have data are available - years that aren`t available are grayed out. The current year being viewed is shown on the menu in black with no link.
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about
the data

Where does the data come from?

Directly from county assessors and state sources. Urbics uses the same data used by counties to allocate property tax revenue to local jurisdictions. Basic secured, unsecured and utility data tapes are obtained annually, with supplemental rolls, assessment appeals or other data obtained as required. Tax rate area codes and associated jurisdictions are obtained from the State Board of Equalization.
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How accurate is it?

Directly from county assessors and state sources. Urbics uses the same data used by counties to allocate property tax revenue to local jurisdictions. Basic secured, unsecured and utility data tapes are obtained annually, with supplemental rolls, assessment appeals or other data obtained as required. Tax rate area codes and associated jurisdictions are obtained from the State Board of Equalization.
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I'd like information on assessment appeals—is that available?

It is in some counties. Where available, Urbics has reports that evaluate the impact appeals may have on the tax rolls and provide detail on individual appeals. Parcels having appeals are flagged on the parcel detail page, with a link to the appeal itself. Appeals data is provided for an additional fee.
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Can I track a particular development project onto the tax rolls?

Often you can. Urban Analytics has developed reports that tie new construction projects to the supplemental roll, current tax roll and regular roll, as well as to building permits and external sources. The reports track new construction as it moves onto the roll (the information can be limited by parcel number changes and data quality). Please contact us to learn more about this or other specialized reports.
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Most reports appear quickly, but I found one that takes some time—why is that?

Most reports in Urbics are pre-compiled and appear in under one second. Some reports—particularly those involving large new reporting areas, user-defined owner names, or customized reports—may take more time the first time they are requested, but most are saved and will appear quickly at subsequent requests (some reports cannot be saved this way, however). If you find a report that repeatedly takes a long time to load, please let us know and we`ll try to find a way to speed up delivery.
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Can I get reports for Special Assessment Districts?

Yes, although you'll have to create a reporting area for the district (special assessment districts—including Mello-Roos Community Facilities Districts— are generally defined by parcel number rather than tax rate area, and so are not included in the basic set of Urbics reporting areas). If you know a district's parcel numbers you can easily create a new reporting area for it. If you don't know the parcel numbers, you can ask us about creating an area for you (there is an additional fee for this service, and we may not be able to do this in every county).
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tips &
tricks

Can I copy the report to a spreadsheet?

Some Urbics reports are already available as spreadsheets—just click the 'SPREADSHEET' link at the top of the report. You can copy-and-paste most Urbics reports to spreadsheets or other software, but you`ll want to get rid of links and some other formatting first. To do this, select the link near the top of the Urbics table that says `Printer-friendly view` - this produces the same table in a form that`s more easily copied. On most browsers you can then highlight the table using `Edit -> Select All` or CTRL-A, then copy and paste the table into a spreadsheet (you may need to paste the data as `HTML` rather than text to keep the table format intact, and you may need to `unmerge` the pasted cells). To return to the regular Urbics report, click on the `Return to normal view` link. Please note any restrictions on the use of Urbics reports that may be in your usage agreement.
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about
urbics

Who created Urbics?

Urbics was created by Urban Analytics, LLC, a consulting firm in San Francisco. The firm provides services to local governments, primarily on property tax issues. Urbics was designed to provide consistent reporting of property tax data across multiple counties. Please contact us to learn more about our consulting services, or visit www.uallc.com.
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Who uses Urbics?

Urbics is used by public finance professionals including bond issuers, buyers, underwriters, insurers, rating agencies and credit analysts, to analyze the property tax base underlying a financing. Local government agencies use reports tailored to their jurisdiction for budgeting and project-specific analysis. Consultants use specialized reports and customized reporting areas to meet particular client needs. Anyone who needs property roll information presented in a well-organized and accessible manner would find Urbics an invaluable analytic tool.
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