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April 29, 2009

Using the power of the Internet

Both Q&As this week came to pass because I happened upon (or was pointed toward) a website trumpeting an idea. It's now cheap and easy -- beyond an investment of time -- to present your point of view to the world, and some local folks are taking advantage of the opportunity.

Here are other ones I've noticed on the subject of housing, development and/or neighborhoods, in alphabetical order:

Baltimore City's Past Present and Future. A blog with photos of past and present community conditions and suggestions for improvement. For instance, on the subject of whether Westport redevelopment will do anything for the wider neighborhood, blogger Spence writes that "we'll have to knock down some barriers in order to make it an all around success." The blogger also keeps a blog about the future of Columbia.

Baltimore Grows. "Real estate, development, and life in Baltimore," as the site notes. Bloggers point readers toward Baltimore-centric news, chat about new restaurants and opine on development proposals. A ongoing poll asks, "Who's Baltimore's Best Mayor?" (Schaefer is winning by a wide margin.)

Baltimore Housing Bubble. Started in 2007, this blog was among a number nationwide that predicted big declines in home values because prices rose much faster than incomes during the earlier buying frenzy. Bloggers Kevin and Adam officially retired the site last October, but they've posted a few times since then.

baltimore john watch. Residents of Washington Village/Pigtown blog about the problem of out-of-town men who troll the neighborhood for prostitutes and sometimes bother women who are not practicing the so-called oldest profession. The bloggers want to turn things around, whether by shaming the men or getting outraged residents to lobby for more city government help. One recent post describes a john, notes his license plate number and says "it is hazardous to one's health to try to pick up respectable women as they're trying to cross the light."

Baltimore Slumlord Watch. This blog -- which says it was started "by a resident who was tired of watching out of town 'investors' and others destroy neighborhoods as a result of their negligence" -- names names, lists addresses, posts photos and tells people which council district each derelict property is in, for ease of complaining to the appropriate council member. About a boarded-up North Fulton Avenue property, the blogger writes: "The owner has seen his fair share of foreclosure hearings and housing court violations — not surprising.  We have to wonder is anyone in the city paying attention to this revolving list of names?"

What other local sites or blogs have you seen in this vein? Point me toward a bunch of other ones, and I'll make up a new list.

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 9:57 AM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Real estate online


Change Baltimore:

Thanks, MCG!

Thanks Jamie for the link.

Hey thanks for the link. We hope people will use it and report blighted properties in their neighborhoods. The list is growing by the minute!

The Washington Village Development Association puts some great videos up on YouTube like this one about their progress in April and they do have a blog:

Thanks, Carson!

A few more suggestions, folks, and I'll have enough for another post. I'm sure there are a lot of neighborhood associations and groups doing innovative things online -- point me to 'em.

This isn't particularly innovative, but lots of neighborhoods have a Yahoo! Group or a Listserv. Pigtown has one and so does Wyman Park. The Pigtown one is mainly used for current residents to discuss neighborhood issues. But, if anyone is interested in moving to Pigtown, it's a great way to learn about the neighborhood from the people who know it the best.

Patterson Park, Butchers Hill, and Highlandtown also have similar Yahoo! groups.

What not to do can be seen at the Fells Point Main Street Assn, which runs the Yahoo list-serv for residents. But closes to small businesses to belong.

Apologies for the self promotion but you might consider my Blog.

It mostly focuses on investing but I just posted an article for home owners going into tax sale. There is a lot of information for investors that want to do tax sales but little aimed at how the individual home owner can protect him or herself.

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About Jamie Smith Hopkins
Jamie Smith Hopkins, a Baltimore Sun reporter since 1999, writes about the regional economy. Her reporting on the housing market has won national and local awards. Hopkins is a Columbia native and has lived in Maryland all her life, save for 10 months spent covering schools in Ames, Iowa.
She trained to become a wonk by spending large chunks of time as a geek and an insufferable know-it-all.
Baltimore Sun articles by Jamie

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