A Geographic Information System (GIS) is a sophisticated technology for making digital maps. Geographic features and attributes are digitized and stored in a database, then retrieved later for screen display, reports, or hardcopy prints. This "geodatabase" is essentially a virtual model of Kern County. It consists of feature classes, such as parcels (land and mineral), assessor map book areas, and tax rate areas. Each feature class contains the geometry (lines and arcs) that defines the features, plus a set of corresponding attributes (tabular descriptive data, stored as text and numbers), such as the owner/assessee name, use code, and assessed values.
The Assessor's mapping system is powered by ArcGIS software by Esri. The system models every parcel boundary in Kern County, as well as some ancillary features, such as centerlines (for streets, railroads, and canals), section corners, section lines, public access easements, legal lot lines, and a few other items needed for proper context when viewing an assessor map. However, some ancillary feature sets (such as centerlines and easements) are incomplete, as they are added to the geodatabase on an ongoing basis. The geodatabase was designed to model lines and points, rather than polygons, for ease of maintenance. Polygons are generated from these simple geometry features on an as-needed basis.
The official assessment maps consist of nearly 17,000 hardcopy map sheets, and this number grows each year. Today, our map inventory consists of mostly hand-drawn layouts, drafted with pen and ink on 11x17-inch vellum and mylar sheets. It takes a lot of work to convert all these maps into a computer model, but the latest technologies enable us to do this work much more efficiently (and accurately) than ever before. Our GIS data has varying degrees of accuracy. There are areas of very high accuracy, areas of very low accuracy, and areas of middling accuracy. We're improving the data constantly, and yet we have a long way to go. We started in 2001 with a low-quality data model that was created as part of a larger project by an outside agency. The data has been through many improvement processes since then, and we are continually chipping away at the bad spots. As we clean up large enough areas, we publish new and updated assessor maps directly from the GIS model.
Keep in mind, the GIS map is not the official map of Kern County. The hardcopy Assessor Maps are still the official maps for property assessment purposes, and the GIS data is available on an AS-IS basis.
This data is generally referred to as the KERN GIS PARCEL DATA. It is available in two different edition types: a Preliminary Edition and a Final Edition. Each edition represents a snapshot-in-time of a continually changing dataset.
A Final Edition is published every July, within a few weeks after the tax roll officially closes on June 30. It is considered a "completed" dataset in the sense that it represents the culmination of work processed during the previous tax/fiscal year (such work comprising all boundary change documents recorded during the previous calendar year). The Final Edition represents the statutory "final tax roll" which the Assessor delivers to the Auditor-Controller and is used to generate property tax bills in November (The Assessor's primary mission). The advantage of this edition is its reliability of assessed valuations, its conformance with tax bills, and the fact that due to its "official" status, it has the greatest internal integrity and correctness.
Once a Final Edition is released, it will be kept on file and archived, and all prior Preliminary Editions will be discarded and will no longer be available. Archived Final Editions are available back to 2004.
A Preliminary Edition is considered an "incomplete" dataset; it is a work in progress that will eventually be completed and published as a Final Edition, Internally, we refer to it as the "roll being prepared". The advantage of this edition is that it contains the most current ownership information available during the tax year, in addition to some more recent parcel boundary changes. However, due to its preliminary nature it is likely to contain some inconsistencies, such as incorrect valuations, interim parcel boundaries, and other anomalies that may be present simply because we have not yet completed our processing cycle.
Preliminary Editions are released periodically during the tax year, and are distinguished by a 2-digit number ranging from 01-11, corresponding to the number of months elapsed after the tax/fiscal year begins on July 1 until the edition date. For example, Prelim 06 would be an edition dated in January (6 months after July). Preliminary Editions will be released as frequently as the Assessor's mapping staff deem appropriate, based on factors such as workload, time available, and demand. Since these factors vary, the number of Preliminary Editions released may also vary from year to year, and the edition dates may also vary.
The most recent edition available is: 2017 Prelim 06 Edition, published 1/8/2017
Also still available: 2016 Final Edition, published 6/29/2016
Each GIS dataset edition includes 4 distinct feature classes:
These feature classes are provided in both Esri Shapefile and Esri File Geodatabase formats. The contents are identical in each format, except for technical differences in geometry support inherent to each format (Shapefiles do not support circular curves, whereas File Geodatabases do).
Esri Shapefile is an open format, since Esri has published the specification, so it is compatible with a variety of GIS software packages whether proprietary, freeware, or open source.
Esri File Geodatabase is a proprietary format. Esri has not published the format specification, but they have released a developer API. Non-developers can only use the File Geodatabase format within the ArcGIS software environment.
Each GIS dataset edition includes 6 distinct attribute tables. These tables come in dBase format (DBF) for use with the Shapefiles, and they are also included within the File Geodatabase as standalone tables. In either case, joining is required. The attribute tables are as follows:
Also included in each dataset edition is a Microsoft Access 2010 database file (ACCDB), which consists of unfiltered, raw data that was extracted from the county's mainframe system. It is not suitable for joining with the GIS feature classes. The 6 dBase files listed above were generated using queries and macros embedded in the Access database. This database file is provided as a courtesy; it is intended for those who need the complete, unaltered tax roll.
There is no official order form or invoice for ordering our GIS data. All orders should be submitted in the form of a written request.
JIM ISBELL, Engineering Tech. III (Supervisor)
Assessor's Office, Mapping Section
In addition to payment, please provide the following information:
Our mailing address:
KERN COUNTY ASSESSOR
1115 TRUXTUN AVENUE
BAKERSFIELD, CA 93301
PLEASE TAKE NOTE: Be sure to use this address EXACTLY as shown, or your correspondence could be routed incorrectly. Also, when sending payment, be sure to include correspondence that identifies you and/or your organization, and that mentions GIS Parcel Data. A payment received without sufficient identification (as are often received from accounting departments) can result in a significant delay in processing your order.
All requests will be fulfilled upon receipt of payment.
All orders will be fulfilled on CD or DVD disc and mailed by US Postal Service. For faster delivery, you are welcome to send a delivery envelope from a mailing/shipping service of your choosing, pre-paid for next-day (or other) expedited service.
Please Note: Our GIS data contains the names and addresses of parcel owners and assessees. We cannot post certain content on the Internet, pursuant to Government Code Sec. 6254.21.