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I'm very new to GIS, and have been toying with something that intuitively seems simple, but I can't make it work. I have an ArcView license (small municipal government).

I have a parcel polygon shapefile and a building polygon shapefile. I'm trying to copy parcel ID numbers to the building shapefile. The buildings are all wholly contained within the parcels. I cannot seem to find a way to make this work.

Once I know how to do this (which I'm assuming will be easy and obvious once I see it), I will try to do the same for the driveway shapefile, which aren't always completely contained within the parcels.

My end goal is to come up with the area that is neither driveway nor building for about 8000 parcels.

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    Actually you don't need to do any attribute joins or copying to accomplish your end goal, you just need to cut the buildings and driveways out of the parcel layer. With a higher license level you'd just need the Erase tool, but with only basic you have to use a somewhat more convoluted solution. Take a look at gis.stackexchange.com/questions/103746 for several possible solutions. – Chris W Sep 18 '15 at 18:38
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The tool you are searching for is "spatial join". You can search the toolboxes for it. Use the buildings as target, parcels as join feature.

After that you get a "copy" of your buildings FC. In the attribute table you now will find the parcel numbers for each building. Be carefull with that, if all buildings were completly in the parcels you don't get a problem, if they were not, you have to modify your spatial join (for example you can modify it under "Field Map of Join Features").

You can reach your "end goal" faster, if you use "select by location". Set "select features from" to your parcels and under "source layer" first select your buildings. Click on "apply". Then set "selection method" to "add to the currently selected features in" and set "source layer" to your driveway. Click on"apply" again (Keep in mind, that all features are selectet which intersect with the source layers; you can modify your select by location unter "spatial selection method".). Afer that you have a selection of all parcels with buildings or driveways. Go to the attribute table and click "switch selection" and you have all features without buildings or driveways.

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