[Talk-us] Differences with USA admin_level tagging

Kevin Kenny kevin.b.kenny+osm at gmail.com
Tue Jul 11 20:23:28 UTC 2017

On Tue, Jul 11, 2017 at 3:53 PM, Richard Welty <rwelty at averillpark.net> wrote:
> On 7/11/17 2:46 PM, Kerry Irons wrote:
>> If all of you want to have some fun with jurisdictional boundaries, take a look at College Corner, OH/IN.  It is a village purposefully straddling the OH/IN state lines with the main street being the state line.  It has two zip codes, is in three counties (two in OH, one in IN) and school district issues to match.  It puts paid to a lot of ideas we all have about jurisdictional hierarchies and boundaries.  Delmar in Delaware/Maryland has similar, though not quite as complicated issues.  I'm sure there are other examples
> i think Kenny oversimplified the NY situation. where i live in New York,
> i reside in the Town of Sand Lake. my mail is delivered out of the
> Averill Park
> post office. my daughter went to school in the Averill Park School District.
> but none of these entities (the town, postal delivery area and school
> district)
> even remotely share boundaries,  nor do the postal delivery area and school
> district actually share a boundary with each other or the hamlet of
> Averill Park.
> we can have other kinds of boundaries besides administrative ones, but right
> now everybody is trying to jam everything into the admin_level system. i
> think
> we're approaching it the wrong way.
> why not
> boundary=fire_district
> boundary=school_district
> and break a couple of these things out. as for adminstrative boundaries and
> admin_level, we're just going to have to go state by state, and in NY at
> least,
> recognize that NYC is a very different creature from the rest of the state.

We already created admin_level=5 for New York City as a special case.

The entities that I called out are defined by state, New York City, or town
law as 'general purpose units of local government'. Counties, cities, towns
and villages are granted the power to enact laws, assess taxes, and provide
services to their citizenry; some Towns recognize hamlets as at least
administrative entities (and sign their borders), and New York City
delegates some authority to its boroughs and community districts.

All the other cases you mention are 'special purpose units of government'
that provide particular services and are empowered to tax, but do
not have the general power to legislate.  They include:

The Adirondack and Catskill Parks
Consolidated Health Districts (EMT/ambulance squads)
Fire districts (which are autonomous political entities with delegated
power to tax and borrow funs)
Fire protection districts (which are established to contract outside
fire protection services, overseen by the town board, and supported
from the town's general fund)
Library districts - usually but not always coextensive with school
Park districts
Parking districts
Police districts/precincts
Public benefit corporations: the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the
Thruway Authority, many regional transportation authorities, the
Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (spanning state lines!)
and so on
Sanitation districts
Sewer districts
School districts (which come in five types, with different laws governing)
Supervisory school districts (BOCES - Boards of Cooperative Educational
Water districts

Any of these may or may not be worth mapping. In most cases
they are observable 'on the ground' only as a function of what
line items come up on your tax bill, and so, I'd contend, mightn't
belong in the main OSM database.

Post office service areas are another kettle of fish entirely. They
do NOT in general form (multi)polygons, because they are sets of
mailboxes strung out along delivery routes. There are many cases
where the delivery routes of different post offices interpenetrate,
and a good many special cases. Mail to my office may be addressed
to a PO box in Schenectady, 12301 or to the street address in
Niskayuna, 12309, and in any case goes in the same mailbag
and ends up in the same mailroom. (I've never enquired too closely
how that's handled in the sorting process.) Mapping ZIP codes as
polygons always has, and will always be, a mistake.

Believe me, I know this; I used to live in a hamlet (Inwood)
of a suburban town (Hempstead), of a county (Nassau) distinct
from New York City, but my mail was handled through a post office
(also called Inwood) that was served from a sorting facility
(Far Rockaway) that was in New York City, and hence
"I had a New York City ZIP code." The result was that every year,
New York City would come after me for New York City income
tax unpaid, and every year, I had to answer with documentation
of how my home was outside the city limits. (The year I moved away,
I wound up just paying the tax, since the expense of traveling
back to New York from the Southwest to dispute the levy would
have been greater than the amount of the tax assessed.)

More information about the Talk-us mailing list