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My first experience with Houston's 311 service


editor

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I've used 311 before in other cities, and always been disappointed.  Once, I remember being transferred repeatedly between 311 and 911 because the 311 operator believed that a traffic signal failure was a police matter, and 911 believed it was a public works matter.  That was fun.  And it caused me to not use 311 anymore.

Well, now that I'm in a fresh new city, I thought I'd try 311 again. 

Today I was walking down McGowen and saw that the pedestrian crossing lights were not working at Smith Street.  So I downloaded the Houston 311 app and logged a maintenance request.

The 311 app is a steaming pile of hot garbage, but I managed to send my request at 12:12pm.  At 2:04pm, I received an e-mail with this:

Quote

Case Resolved $$ Per A. Gutierrez @ 13:23 completed Miscellaneous....intersection was cycling upon arrival, no power to peds 2,4, and 6, load switch for peds 2,4, and 6 were not in place on back panel, replaced load switch for ped 2, ped 6 all good, ped 4 sent intersection into flash, checked for shorted wires for ped 4 inside of cabinet and found shorted wire for ped 4, fixed problem and installed load switch for ped 4, all peds are working for 2,4, and 6

So, Houston's public works, or traffic management, or some other city department was actually able to fix my 311 problem in under two hours.   Hoary crepes!  My tax dollars at work!

 

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7 hours ago, editor said:

I've used 311 before in other cities, and always been disappointed.  Once, I remember being transferred repeatedly between 311 and 911 because the 311 operator believed that a traffic signal failure was a police matter, and 911 believed it was a public works matter.  That was fun.  And it caused me to not use 311 anymore.

Well, now that I'm in a fresh new city, I thought I'd try 311 again. 

Today I was walking down McGowen and saw that the pedestrian crossing lights were not working at Smith Street.  So I downloaded the Houston 311 app and logged a maintenance request.

The 311 app is a steaming pile of hot garbage, but I managed to send my request at 12:12pm.  At 2:04pm, I received an e-mail with this:

So, Houston's public works, or traffic management, or some other city department was actually able to fix my 311 problem in under two hours.   Hoary crepes!  My tax dollars at work!

 

My first thought was, did you go back and verify it's working now?  That's the level of trust I have in the city.

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16 hours ago, august948 said:

My first thought was, did you go back and verify it's working now?  That's the level of trust I have in the city.

I have not.  But they have a month to do it, since that's the next time I have to pick up a refill at Walgreens!

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On 3/25/2022 at 3:26 PM, editor said:

So, Houston's public works, or traffic management, or some other city department was actually able to fix my 311 problem in under two hours.   Hoary crepes!  My tax dollars at work!

 

First, thank you for submitting a 311 ticket.

Second, I have also received shockingly competent/quick repair service when it comes to ped lights. I once submitted one at almost 8PM on a Sunday night and it was fixed my Monday morning at like 5am. 

With that being said, these things vary highly by department. I have an outstanding bandit sign one that is almost 5 months old. Parking tickets regularly take more than a week to investigate (super effective... not). 

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Not 311 but when mayor Turner had a web site created to point out potholes, I reported a huge hole on Hawthorne right next to Montrose Blvd next to the little shopping center and they came out in just a day or two to fix it. This was during the pot hole controversy of a few years ago.

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 3/26/2022 at 9:21 PM, hindesky said:

Not 311 but when mayor Turner had a web site created to point out potholes, I reported a huge hole on Hawthorne right next to Montrose Blvd next to the little shopping center and they came out in just a day or two to fix it. This was during the pot hole controversy of a few years ago.

They jumped on those potholes.  I reported several in my neighborhood and they were all filled in with asphalt in a week.

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  • 1 month later...

I agree with editor that the 311 app sucks, I always just call. They really need to fix that. But beyond that, I've had universally good experiences with 311, they are timely in their response, and get the job done.

The last time I called 311 was a year and a half ago. Some parents with a huge sense of entitlement who live on the main east-west street through my neighborhood decided they didn't like other people using "their" street as a "cut through", and put two big orange traffic cones in the street next to each other, one in the middle of the eastbound lane, one in the middle of the westbound lane, so eastbound and westbound traffic had to take turns straddling the center line of the street to get past them. One call to 311, and within three days someone from the city had knocked on the door of the cones' owner and told them they were illegally obstructing a public right-of-way, warned them that if the cones went out again, they would be cited, and that he would return to ensure compliance. Very satisfying.

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2 hours ago, Reefmonkey said:

I agree with editor that the 311 app sucks, I always just call. They really need to fix that. But beyond that, I've had universally good experiences with 311, they are timely in their response, and get the job done.

The last time I called 311 was a year and a half ago. Some parents with a huge sense of entitlement who live on the main east-west street through my neighborhood decided they didn't like other people using "their" street as a "cut through", and put two big orange traffic cones in the street next to each other, one in the middle of the eastbound lane, one in the middle of the westbound lane, so eastbound and westbound traffic had to take turns straddling the center line of the street to get past them. One call to 311, and within three days someone from the city had knocked on the door of the cones' owner and told them they were illegally obstructing a public right-of-way, warned them that if the cones went out again, they would be cited, and that he would return to ensure compliance. Very satisfying.

I would have just taken the cones. Left in the street like that, they are trash, and free to take.

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Then they wouldn’t have learned. They would have bitched about having their cones stolen, probably would have blamed it on one of the brown people they usually use NextDoor to warn everyone they saw walking in the neighborhood. They needed to know that being affluent doesn’t give them license to do whatever the hell they want, to get called on their behavior by their neighbors, and have some authority they couldn’t dispute back that up. 

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 5/17/2022 at 9:06 PM, Reefmonkey said:

Then they wouldn’t have learned. They would have bitched about having their cones stolen, probably would have blamed it on one of the brown people they usually use NextDoor to warn everyone they saw walking in the neighborhood. They needed to know that being affluent doesn’t give them license to do whatever the hell they want, to get called on their behavior by their neighbors, and have some authority they couldn’t dispute back that up. 

I can't disagree with that. Sort of like the people in the Heights and similar areas who put large rocks next to the street to keep people from parking there. One of them screamed at me for parking over the rocks(I have a 4Runner with decent ground clearance) and threatened to call the police. I told them to have at it, since it's not illegal to park there.  Far different from another resident on a different street who just asked that I be careful when I left, and to try not to mess up the grass. I was happy to do that.

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^^^ I have made around 300 reports (traffic signals, pavement markings, and signs) since the new launch. Of those reports, maybe 10-15 did not follow through on the request. The rest have either been fixed, or have work status pending (like pavement markings). For the most part, public works does a decent job when it comes to these requests. I can't speak on the departments of property nuisance and trash, I think they have a greater backlog and aren't the best at solving the issue. 

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I complained about illegal dumping at one spot enough they installed a sign - that quickly was engulfed in trash from illegal dumping 🤦🏻‍♂️

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On 6/3/2022 at 11:35 AM, cspwal said:

I complained about illegal dumping at one spot enough they installed a sign - that quickly was engulfed in trash from illegal dumping 🤦🏻‍♂️

Off-topic, but speaking of illegal dumping, has anyone ever driven out Liberty Road?

It's like a five-mile-long garbage dump.  Hard to believe the condition of it.  Maybe it's not in the City of Houston? 

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On 3/26/2022 at 2:57 PM, editor said:

I have not.  But they have a month to do it, since that's the next time I have to pick up a refill at Walgreens!

Any new developments on the situation ? 🤔

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