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“Surprised the city wouldn’t be at least a little concerned about a safety hazard like this.”

by Prince Of Petworth April 10, 2017 at 11:00 am 20 Comments

utility pole

A reader reports:

“Badly damaged utility pole at busy intersection of 12th and Monroe NE. I called it into 311 and emergency management but they pawned it off on Pepco. Surprised the city wouldn’t be at least a little concerned about a safety hazard like this. They told me to call Pepco. I ultimately convinced emergency management to take down the intersection info, but they didn’t suggest they would do anything.

To their credit, Pepco has an accessible emergency reporting line. I got to a human in under a minute, and they said they’d send someone to check it out. Still, strange for the city not to take the initiative once something like this is reported.”

  • K

    aren’t those polls owned and managed by Pepco? What could any city agency actually do besides come out, look at the poll, and then call Pepco themselves.

    • bfejnfbn


      To be fair, though, the 311 people don’t always understand what is and isn’t DC’s responsibility. For example, I haven’t gotten a single one that understands that the bus stop shelters in DC are not owned/maintained by Metro. They’re DC shelters and are maintained by DC’s contractor.

      • K

        Oh yeah their is a lot to complain about re 311. This just doesn’t happen to be one of them.

        • Marty

          Disagree. Even if Pepco is the appropriate organization to ultimately fix this, 311 can and should keep track of it, and ensure that it’s done, as it’s a potential hazard. The city, not random citizens, should follow up on this sort of thing.
          (I’m not suggesting that every city office needs to keep up on activities in every other office, but whomever in DC is in charge of making sure that the power poles are install correctly by pepco (DCRA?) should “own” this.)

          • ah

            Yeah, on this point 311 will take “streetlight out” calls and refer them to Pepco to put in a new bulb.

    • well

      Another case of a citizen complaining about things in bad faith. Do your research, guys!

    • Kevin


      There are very explicit agreements about what the city can and can’t do. Yes, it sucks to have to make an extra phone call, but this is Pepco’s issue to fix, and it looks like they were quite responsive.

      • HaileUnlikely

        I’m with Marty and others above. It is not reasonable for a citizen to figure out who owns a given piece of infrastructure whose condition is obviously hazardous. There should be a straightforward mechanism by which a citizen can report such issues to authorities who will see to it that the hazard is taken care of, whether by addressing it directly or by identifying the appropriate entity to which to forward the concern and doing so.

    • Rich

      It’s easy to complain about DC (or for that matter suburban municipal govts) but that doesn’t always mean that it’s appropriate. DCers (including those in the ‘burbs)are such whiners.

  • anon

    I keep calling the police department to tell them to put out a fire. They keep telling me to call the fire department. Why don’t the police care about the danger caused by a fire? I finally got them to write down the location of the fire, but don’t think they’ll do anything about it.

    • FridayGirl

      TL;DR – I spent more time being angry about something than I would have just doing the thing I was angry about.

    • neighbor

      So OP is obviously in the wrong here, but your poor analogy here actually gives them a little support. The a major point of 911 services is that in an emergency, the caller shouldn’t have to worry about calling the responsible party. They just call 911.
      While OP should obviously just report this to Pepco, there’s an argument to be made that 311 should take complaints for all non-emergency city calls and dispatch them to the appropriate place (Pepco included).

      • Kevin

        Yeah, that’s not what 311 is designed to do, is staffed to do or is funded to do.

      • Anon X

        “there’s an argument to be made that 311 should take complaints for all non-emergency city calls”

        Not only is there an argument to made for that, that is exactly what 311 is. Pepco is not a city agency and calls about Pepco arent a city matter.

        • HaileUnlikely

          Disagreed completely. This issue presents a hazard to persons who are using a city-owned street. It so happens that the specific hazard is caused by equipment owned by Pepco, but that’s a matter that the city and Pepco to straighten out behind the scenes after the hazard is remediated.

          • Anon X

            I think calling it a hazard implies some sort of eminent threat. Its definitely not that. The sharp edges are more of a hazard than a risk of collapse. That post is still pretty strong. Most of the strength in telephone poles is from the core. It needs to be that size for the marginal load it will be enduring for very rare events. But, I bet this thing could stay standing for years in its current state. None the less, like a clogged gutter it needs to be fixed sooner rather than later – but its a maintenance issue, not a safety one.

      • CHGal

        “there’s an argument to be made that 311 should take complaints for all non-emergency city calls and dispatch them to the appropriate place.”

        I’m upset with how Dusty Baker is handling the bullpen. Should I call 311 or is that an emergency?

        • Jen

          CHGal they don’t have enough staff to handle calls about the Nats right now. we need a full time office at our disposal. Ahem.

  • Dean

    It would be one thing if the 311 operator responded with “we don’t deal with that” and hung up, but they actually provided the caller with the contact info for Pepco who then accepted responsibility and will send someone out. I fail to see why the OP is complaining.

  • Angry Parakeet

    That’s more than a regular pole, too – it has a switching mechanism dangling off of it. But PEPCO is who to call and they have a decent hotline.


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