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Why isn't City Assessing searchable by owner anymore?

Until fairly recently it was possible to search the City of Boston's assessing site by owner's name. Now it seems to only be searchable by address, which is a hindrance if one is trying to find out how much property someone (such as an absentee landlord) owns.

Does anyone know why this was changed?

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Comments

According to the Wayback Machine, between June 8 and 12, 2020 they removed name from the search options, though by "options" I mean examples. That said, I've had issues searching for owners before that.

It's off to Suffolk Deeds for you.

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Voting closed 40

Which has 38 pages for the person I am looking for. Yikes!

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Voting closed 8

It's a pain to get to what you want through them, as anything that is filed with their office is scanned as part of a separate file. But it's what we have.

I guess we can be thankful that we can still track down the owner of a particular property, which is a more important thing.

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Voting closed 9

The form element for "owner" is still there in the markup, but it's commented out. The form uses `GET` requests (not `POST`) so it's possible to pass a value directly in the URL that will be processed.

e.g.:
https://www.cityofboston.gov/assessing/search/?owner=john%20kennedy

Unfortunately, it looks like something was changed in the backend - or perhaps more likely, broken, which prompted them to comment out the form field - because it doesn't give the expected results. It's definitely being processed though because passing `owner` changes the results.

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Voting closed 20

It's caching results by query, but if you change from one non-existent name to another, that invalidates the cache, so you just end up with a different ordering of names.

That said, a programmer could pretty easily write a script to scrape this DB and offer it for download. There's a clear xxyyyyyzzz pattern to the parcel IDs, and I bet they increment within each section, so you could probably enumerate all parcel IDs. Alternatively, you could get a street listing and perform searches for every [single digit] [street name] combination and grab the results. (That would take far fewer requests and would be less likely to get you blocked.)

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Voting closed 7