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Houston, I’m Feeling Can-tankerous

Houston 311 in PixelYes, it’s true. I’m feeling cantankerous. In this instance it’s because of the City of Houston department of Solid Waste Management. They broke one of our  trash cans. And after over a month, I’m still struggling to get it repaired or replaced.

There’s a bit of tale to this. It started on February 29th. On this date, the driver made the routine pickup, but proceeded on down the street before putting the can back on the ground. To our security cameras this looked like they were taking the can with them. They just drove out out of frame.

In reality, they put it down about 10 yards to our North. However, it was damaged. The wheels had broken off. They must’ve gone into the truck, because they were nowhere to be found.

Strike 1

I used the Houston 311 mobile app to open a ticket with the city. The 311 app requires that your select a category for the ticket. There was no category that corresponded to repair or replace a trash can. So, I had to choose “Other” and put in some notes.

I attached this very snippet of video to illustrate what happened. As well as a picture of the damaged can sitting at the end of our driveway.

There was a flurry of automatic email resulting from the ticket. One noted the ticket had been “Reclassified From Other to Container Repair Referred to Solid Waste.” They projected it would be addressed within 10 days.

Then we had some storms. It was clear that I should not leave the can on the street where it blocked the flow to the storm sewer. Leaving it on the sidewalk seemed unwise. So, I moved it just inside our gate, where it would not bother parents dropping off kids at the school across the street, or people on the sidewalk.

This proved to be a mistake. On March 7th I received a notice that the ticket had been closed. It noted, “Container not out. Inside gate not out for repair.”

It was plainly in view. I was at home. No-one pushed the button at our gate. They just looked and left.

Strike 2

Eventually, on March 15th I opened another ticket, again using the 311 app. A little frustrated, this time I rather carelessly selected “Missed Heavy Trash Pickup” as the category. But I again attached a picture and noted the damaged container as being in need of repair or replacement.

Front North 2024-03-26 PM

This time the ticket did not get recategorized. On March 26th I appended a comment to the ticket, noting that that can was still sitting at the end of our driveway, and had not been touched.

April 1st the city closed this ticket, filing it as “Status: Service Completed.” It begs the question, how can service have been completed when nothing at all was actually done?

Strike 3

The fact that the second ticket didn’t get refiled as a “Container Repair” was troubling. So, on March 26th I opened a third ticket. This time, I used “Other” as the category.

This ticket has been “acknowledged” and “Reclassified From Other to Container Repair.” Remember, Container Repair is not something a resident can select within the 311 app.

The can still sits at the end of our driveway. By now, with the exception of a day or two, it’s been there now over a month. In theory, an unruly neighbor would have every right to open their own ticket reporting my failure to put it away in a timely manner.

Front North 2024-04-01 PM

The automated reply to the third ticket again reports the matter to be addressed within 10 calendar days. That would be by Monday, April 6th. We shall see.

I wish it was easier to make a time lapse video of the entire time the trash can has been sitting at the end of my driveway. Perhaps I could get a local TV station to use that as a amusing way to poke fun at the cities 311 system, which seems to be less than effective. Although, our surveillance recorder only retains two weeks of recorded material, so it would not go all the way back to when this saga began.

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