For the past year, “4 to Explore” has been reporting graffiti, trash, damaged signs, and other nuisances in an effort to improve our quality of life in Northeast Seattle. Other neighbors have been joining the cause by calling the city’s Customer Service Bureau at 206-684-2489 (which is poorly staffed) or trying the city’s new mobile phone app “Find It, Fix It” (which suffered a slow start last year).
In a positive sign that our city government might finally be getting back to the basics of, well, city government, the new Mayor Ed Murray (1) expanded the phone app to include fixing street lights and illegal dumping and (2) led some of his Department heads in South Seattle on Community Walks using the “Find it, Fix It” app to fix problems and improve safety. Kudos to the thoughtful staff person who originated this idea. We encourage and welcome these Community Walks in Northeast Seattle, too, but we can also take the initiative with this new tool and clean up our neighborhoods ourselves.
In addition to ad hoc community walks, many cities already have fully staffed 24-hour Call Centers (using the easy to remember 3-1-1). A 3-1-1 Call Center reduces the burden on the 9-1-1 system, provides residents with a single phone number, and enables mayors to track the performance of city staff to keep neighborhoods, parks, and roads clean and safe. (If you’ve ever tried to report graffiti and been bounced around, you would love a 3-1-1 system.) As a city of innovation, Seattle should have a robust 3-1-1 Call Center, too.
Due, in part, to the frustration of not having a point person to Get Results for simple neighborhood problems, voters recently approved a new neighborhood-based method for electing 7 of our 9 City Councilmembers. Northeast Seattle includes districts #4 and parts of #5. Find your district on the City Clerk’s website. We will select these neighborhood Councilmembers in 2015. The Ravenna Blog will track the contests closely.