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November 9, 2009

SF 311: Catch-All for Your Problems

I recently used the newish SF 311 service that the city established to help residents resolve whatever issues are on their plates. The service cuts to the chase so you don’t have to spend time figuring out which department or agency will be able to help you.

I’ve contacted 311 twice in the past couple of weeks. First, I wanted to make a request for someone to pick up the stupid, full-size boxspring that someone left outside my house. I decided to contact 311 via Twitter. I sent a message to 311 on a Sunday, and got a response informing me that the city would respond to the request within three calendar days.

The boxspring was still sitting outside by 5PM on Wednesday. I sent a followup message via Twitter on Wednesday evening, and was informed that the Dept. of Public Works (DPW) had closed out the ticket and that the boxpring had been picked up. The Twitter rep offered to resubmit the request. But at this point, I didn’t feel like waiting another three days. So on Thursday morning, I called 311 and explained the situation. The boxspring was gone by the afternoon.

I also called 311 to find out the process for obtaining a parking permit for a moving truck. My client had closed escrow, and was going to need to block off parking spaces for the moving truck. 311 got me the contact information for the appropriate police precinct, and from there, I got the very complicated set of directions for the moving process.

Check out the various areas in which 311 can help. I’d recommend simply dialing 311 vs. submitting online requests. (When I tried to track my request for the boxspring pickup via my PC and iPhone, I got error messages. It’s probably best to just deal with a live customer service rep. In any event, keep 311 in mind for whatever random question or issue that might arise.

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