Oh Wait, Yes You Can Report Illegal Street Dumping Online
Who knew? Deep within the city's website there is a lonely submission form called the "Illegal Dumping Crime Tip Program." It sounds like a place where you report criminals who trash the streets of Los Angeles, but really, it's all about reporting that abandoned couch in front of your house.
Of course, this begs the question of why the city pays operators in two different offices to take this information (one will only take reports of debris, the other takes bulky items) during business hours all while 3-1-1 operators, available 24 hours a day, are not allowed to help you even with this form easily accessed by anyone with a computer.
Add to that, even the best-of-the-best Public Works Public Information Officer struggled to find the webpage form while we sat on the phone with him. So, if the people charged with being the department "know-it-alls" can't find it with ease, how is the public to? And that brings up another issue--the city's Public Works Department has a total of twelve employees in the Public Affairs Office dedicated to increasing public awareness about the department's doings. Raise your hand if you can easily find out what every public works project is in your neighborhood. We didn't think so.
To be fair, the department's various webpages are chock full of good info, but there is no public steward to guide citizens and residents through it. The department bases their website design on internal organizational structure, but the public really doesn't care if the street construction down form their home is sanitation or engineering, they just want to know what's going on. In an age of Twitter, Facebook and blogs, Public Works has an opportunity--just like the Fire Department is already doing--to develop a relationship with the community and really make residents aware of what's going on in their neighborhoods.