A break down of tear down data

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt October 16, 2013

Decatur’s City Commission this Monday will consider a temporary ban on issuing new permits for tear downs, and it has stirred up the community.

When I last checked, my poll on whether residents support the moratorium idea shows a community that’s almost evenly split. At last check, 229 of you responded and it was showing about 52 percent of residents are against it and 48 are for it. That lead has flip flopped and I fully expect it will change a few more times before the poll closes this Sunday.

But you know, wouldn’t it be useful if y’all had some facts to help you make up your minds?

The details aren’t always easy to come by, but City of Decatur officials have shared some permit data with me that show tear-downs this year are on track to at least match last year’s numbers.

According to the city, as of Oct. 8 it had issued 23 tear down permits for Fiscal 2014, which began July 1.

In Fiscal Year 2013, which ended June 30, the city had issued 55.

(For those of you not up on the accounting lingo, a fiscal year is the 12 month period that cities use when setting their annual budgets. It often differs from the calendar year for reasons that still elude me.)

The city’s permitting department said it will have to analyze the data going back further than that to get a read on tear-downs before Fiscal 13. The department reports that demolition permits weren’t separated from actual single family building permits prior to Fiscal 13.

Here are pinpoints for the addresses for the demolition permits issued as of Oct. 8,  Fiscal 14.


The city gave me some other interesting information along with the permit data. I received the total number of building permits issued each year going all the way back to 1993. But the part of it I found the most fascinating was the actual value of construction year-to-year, from 93 through 2012.

Because boring information looks way cooler on a graph, I’ve put one together giving you a better sense of how that value rose and fell over the last couple of decades.
Home Value

I’d love to know more about the historical underpinnings of the trends you’re seeing here (aside from, you know, a historic clusterscrew of a recession). Maybe a knowledgeable community historian can share their perspectives on that with us in the comments section.

So are tear downs on the rise? It’s tough to draw any conclusions without data going beyond the last two years.

As of Oct. 8, the city issued close to half of the number of permits it issued in Fiscal 13. We’ll be halfway through the Fiscal Year in December. It’ll be worth checking those numbers again. I’ll let you know when the city provides me with more data about demolition permits before Fiscal 13.

About Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt is editor and publisher of Decaturish.com. https://www.linkedin.com/in/danwhisenhunt

View all posts by Dan Whisenhunt

  • How does the City define a teardown?

    • It’s my understanding that it’s single family demo permits.

  • EJ

    The demo permit number will definitely be up. Everybody I know is securing demo permits before the meeting, even if they weren’t planning on full demolition. The moratorium won’t have any visible effect during its lifetime. It will however irritate homeowners looking to bump up/out who weren’t paying attention.

  • Robert Koch

    For purposes of this Ordinance, “structural demolition” shall mean one or more of
    the following: (a) the removal of 50% or more of the original exterior walls; (b) the
    removal of 50% or more of the original, first floor sub floor and joist systems; (c) the
    enclosure of the original exterior walls by another wall system.

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