Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Get your Davis data here

Earlier this year, Somerville by Design kicked off two new resident-driven planning series in East Somerville and Davis Square. One of the first steps of the Somerville by Design process is asking residents about what is important to them about their neighborhood. We've already taken a look at what East Somerville residents had to say, so let's look at Davis Square. (Full report here.)

Although each neighborhood has its own character and history, some things seem universally important in Somerville. Walkable neighborhoods are important to residents in both Davis Square and East Somerville, but in Davis walking is in the lead by a much larger margin. Could the proximity of the Red Line and several bus lines encourage more walking and fewer car trips through the neighborhood?

Davis Square residents also want public space where people can just hang out. Whether it be for people watching, chatting with neighbors, or just enjoying the sun, where do you like to relax in Davis Square?

At the request of residents, planning staff also looking at other demographic data for Davis, which gives more insight into who lives in the neighborhood and what the business community is like. (Full report here.)

Some of the data shouldn't be too surprising to anyone familiar with Davis Square - there are a lot of bars and restaurants in the neighborhood that draw in outside business and many younger residents rent in the area - but some wasn't so intuitive.

There is a perception that Davis houses a lot of home-based businesses. But data shows that only 14% of businesses in Davis are located on residential plots. This is where data gathering gets a little tricky. Counting registered and licensed businesses that are on residential lots is easy, but what do we do about freelancers, telecommuters, and hobbyists who occasionally profit from their skills? In June 2013, for example, there were over 3,000 items from Somerville for sale on the craft site etsy.com. Would each crafter who put an item online be counted as a business? How do we count someone who works for a company, but works from home?

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