Dirty al­leys still an is­sue

Bal­ti­more’s re­sponse to 311 calls de­pends on where you live

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - FRONT PAGE - By Talia Rich­man and Chris­tine Zhang

Judy Tay­lor keeps track of ev­ery call she makes to 311, jot­ting down the date on a piece of lined pa­per that she keeps on her fridge. She fre­quently re­quests that city crews come to her Car­roll­ton Ridge neigh­bor­hood to clear piles of trash from the al­ley be­hind her row­house: aban­doned mat­tresses, over­flow­ing plas­tic bags, dis­carded liquor bot­tles.

“I call and call and call,” says Tay­lor, 78. A Bal­ti­more Sun anal­y­sis of city data shows that if a res­i­dent in south­west­ern Bal­ti­more, where Tay­lor lives, calls the non-emer­gency help line to re­port a dirty al­ley, a res­o­lu­tion al­most never comes by the rec­om­mended dead­line of seven busi­ness days. That’s a stark con­trast to the city’s south­east­ern area, where nearly 100% of “dirty al­ley” re­quests are com­pleted on time.

Bal­ti­more — the first city to de­ploy 311 as a non-emer­gency re­quest cen­ter — fields thou­sands of calls for bro­ken street­lights, graf­fiti re­moval and il­le­gal dump­ing. Al­ley cleanup is among the most com­mon re­quests.

The dirty al­leys in the city gar­nered na­tional at­ten­tion this sum­mer when Fox News ran footage of blight and trash in West Bal­ti­more, spark­ing a White House tweet­storm in which Repub­li­can Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump called Bal­ti­more “dis­gust­ing” and “rat and ro­dent in­fested.” Res­i­dents crit­i­cized the pres­i­dent’s ver­bal as­sault on their home­town, but some also said the city hadn’t done enough to clean up their neigh­bor­hoods.

To re­spond to 311 calls re­lated to trash, de­bris and other lit­ter prob­lems, the De­part­ment of Pub­lic Works’ Bureau of Solid Waste di­vided the city into five

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