Trash, high grass top complaints to Richmond's 311 call center

By Rachel DePompa - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - An NBC12 investigation tonight into Richmond's 311 call center. It's the place you report problems or request services.

Mayor Dwight Jones has admitted the system needs revamping and even launched a new program this month to make sure city services run smoother.

The 311 program was launched three years ago under former Mayor L. Douglas Wilder. Under a Freedom of Information Act request we pulled the numbers to see what services in the city you complain about the most.

On average, the 311 program gets 475,000 calls a year.

"It is one of the major portals to the city for citizens," said Byron Marshall, Richmond Chief Administrative Officer.

For Marshall, changing the 311 system has been a top priority since he came to Richmond last year.

"People didn't get an answer. Or the answers that they got were inconsistent or if we promised a service delivery date sometimes we didn't meet it. Or we closed tickets that people knew really shouldn't have been closed," he said.

We took a look at why citizens are calling. Number one on the list year after year is bulk trash -- meaning mattresses or large pieces of junk that don't fit in the supercans.  People are asking the city to take it away.

The number two complaint, the past two years? Overgrown yards. Which is grass higher than 12 inches.

The third most reported issued so far this year? Potholes. Not unexpected after the rough winter.

Complaints about supercan damage often makes the list, as do rundown vehicles parked on private property.

And finally, tree assessments are a top request.

We also discovered that the city is getting a little faster at responding to your requests.

For example in 2009 tree assessments took around 59 days to complete. This year that time is down to 14 days.

Marshall attributes the faster response times to new efforts like tripling the road maintenance budget, the creation of an urban forestry commission and "one of the first things we did last September. Looking at overgrown lots and going out trying to focus on getting them cut," he said.

The mayor also launched a new program this month called IMPACC. He's dividing the city up by police precincts and appointing teams to address some of the top concerns coming into 311.

The city will announce more details on its new IMPACC program at a meeting September 22 in the First Precinct. It's still deciding on a time and location.

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