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Mayor Bowser Responds to Numerous Reports of Streetlamps Not Working “Launches Text to DC311”

by Prince Of Petworth — September 27, 2016 at 10:45 am 20 Comments


Since August we’ve relayed numerous reports of streetlamps out all over the District. From a press release:

“Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced a week-long effort to identify street light outages in all eight wards of the District and launched Text to DC311. Immediately following the announcement, teams of District Government employees went into neighborhoods across all eight wards where residents have reported the most outages to take an inventory of broken street lights.

“We have 70,000 street lights in the District and too many of them do not work. By fixing street lights, we can make District streets safer, stronger and brighter,” said Mayor Bowser. “By launching Text to DC311, we are offering residents a more convenient way to report outages, as well as other issues. We know that everyone’s time is valuable, and we are doing everything we can to bring city services to your fingertips.”

Last year, Mayor Bowser introduced her Safer, Stronger DC plan, a comprehensive public safety agenda to combat violent crime in the District of Columbia. The initiative announced today is intended to support this plan. In her announcement, Mayor Bowser highlighted the importance of outdoor lighting in keeping streets safe.

With the launch of Text to DC311, residents now have five ways to report city service issues and make requests to DC311. Residents can continue to report issues online at 311.dc.gov, through the DC311 mobile app, via Twitter, and to live agents at the 311 call center.

Still in the pilot stage, Text to DC311 currently accepts service requests for some of the District’s most popular issues like street light repairs, trash and bulk collection, and parking meter issues. To use Text to DC311, residents simply text DC311 or 3-2-3-1-1 from their mobile phones and type “Menu” or “New” to get started. In response, the system will provide a list of service request options. Residents trying to report an issue that is not on the featured list will be redirected to 311 Online.

In order to support the Mayor’s efforts to identify and fix street light outages, Text to DC311 has made it even easier to report a broken light. To report a broken street light, residents simply text the words “street light” to DC311 (32311). The system then asks a series of follow-up questions in order to get more information about the light. In the future, residents will be able to go online and see a map of reported street light outages and track the District’s progress in fixing the lights.”

  • FridayGirl

    “With the launch of Text to DC311, residents now have five ways to report city service issues and make requests to DC311.”
    But the problem isn’t reporting! The problem is DC government closing the reports without fixing anything!!!!

    • kevin s

      There was a press gaggle outside our place at 12 & Euclid of about 30 people to fix a street lamp. How many bureaucrats does it take to change a lightbulb??

      • FridayGirl

        Wow. That’s pathetic. They shouldn’t have to have press to illustrate that the city is actually changing lightbulbs. We can all see they’re not. It’s probably the only one they changed….

    • navyard

      Friday Girl is right. When you report something, you better have cameras aimed at the issue so you can watch for someone who might show up, might see the problem, and then that person gets back in the car without doing anything except opening the phone to mark “resolved”.

      Parking enforcement officers have too many friends who have their “personal favorite spots”,
      And Melinda Bolling is either inept or corrupt because DCRA is completely broken.

      I will say this though: I think the city tow-truck drivers are A-1, top-notch. I once offered one a tip because he lowered my car from the truck before taking it away (I found him right in time). He refused the tip (can’t have it look like a bribe). And they’re always helpful!

      • Bob

        I agree, DCRA is broken and I’m not impressed with Director Bolling. I tell everyone to go to GradeDC.Gov and grade each agency. DCRA should have a lowest rating of any DC agency.

    • jaanku

      This is exactly right. It’s so incredibly frustrating trying to get anything done because tickets are marked Resolved with no explanation and no work done.

    • JoDa

      I recently reported that a street sign had been knocked down near my house. The estimated resolution time was *130 days!* Over 4 months to come stand a sign back up. What are we paying for, again?

  • Anonymous

    I say this as someone who voted for Bowser and who or may not vote for her again… there is a major disconnect between what is happening on the streets/wards and what is being told to the mayor. The agencies from MPD to DPW to DCRA constantly give her the spin so as not to cast blame on themselves. I’ve seen it first hand.
    Even when the mayor does visit a neighborhood, MPD is there beforehand cleaning out any loiterers and posting cops on every corner. DPW comes out beforehand to clean the street, empty garbage cans and remove any majorly unsightly eye sores. The agencies get very upset if they don’t know get a heads up as to where the mayor is going to be…
    How can she do her job when she isn’t getting the truth? Has she surrounded herself with Yes Men/Women who are more interested in looking good themselves than serving the residents in DC? People are mad. I encourage her to travel DC incognito or visit high crime areas without notifying police beforehand.

    • Ampersand

      Serious question: What makes you consider voting for her again? Is there some positive aspect of her mayoral tenure that I have missed? Everything I see and hear about DC government since she took office is AWFUL, and I can’t understand how she could possibly still have support from anyone who pays attention to city governance.

    • Anonymous

      Wow, sounds like Potemkin Village in Stalinist Russia. Who are these clowns?
      That said, I wouldn’t be surprised if Muriel has tacitly allowed these shenanigans to go on. Out of sight, out of mind and she has plausible deniability. Is she by any chance OCD?

  • wdc

    Five ways to report issues? Because four was just too easy for the city to ignore??
    They don’t need to “launch” anything. They need to require their workforce to do the job they’re paid to do.
    This reminds me of the Onion article about five-blade razors.

  • Linc Park SE

    Biking home after work (a bit after Midnight) – saw at least 3 trucks on Capitol Hill East replacing street light bulbs – good job!

  • Morton

    Given the comments, I looked at my DC311 app history and all of the 25 issues I’ve reported were addressed. The one that took the longest did involve replacing the base of a street lamp, but the city did get to it. I am surprised to read that so many others are having a different experience when making reports.

    • FridayGirl

      But were they actually addressed in reality or just marked as resolved is the issue. For example, did you go back and check to see if what you reported was fixed after it was marked as resolved? I thought something I reported was fixed — until I walked by it and said “Hey, they said they fixed that! Why is it still broken!?!”

      • Morton

        Yes, all 25 were corrected. Example, last week I reported a small sink hole in the street near my home that was filled within 3 hours. The street light repair was made, but several weeks later. In all cases, my requests have been filled.

        • FridayGirl

          Wow! That’s actually really good to hear. I wish you had a secret you can share, but I’m actually wondering if this is a problem by Ward, perhaps, and not necessarily across all areas of DC….

          • Morton

            I’m in Ward 1 (Columbia Heights/Park View). I always use the 311DC app. Include a photo and include all the details based on the issue. You need to get it all correct the first time, I did have an issue once when the map was pointing to the wrong location. I had to repost when my correction was not noticed. I have had equal success with anonymous posts when reporting neighbors who dump unwanted furniture.

        • Anonymous

          What Ward? Another issue is that certain wards are more dense than others. A Ward downtown where most people live in apartment buildings will see relatively few 311 requests. Other wards with high ownership, may see a great many. Homeowners or renters in small buildings/homes tend to use 311 more. Also, wards that are geographically larger have more roads, more alleys, more trash cans (i.e. more issues). Do larger wards have larger staff to handle the higher requests? My guess is that there are some operational issues to this problem as well.

  • CPinDC

    Some recently installed street lights (last year) on 13th Street NW have blinked on and off since. They installed the new light poles onto the old housing(?). You can literally walk a block before the lights blink back on. I called 311 but since I’m not a developer or live west of RC Park…..no response.


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