Tips and tricks for actually getting what you want out of 311

Sure they can help you. But they won't make it easy.

You’ve probably heard about calling 311, either because you saw the number on a poster in the subway or because you called it to report a broken traffic light and wanted to rip your hair/weave/beard out dealing with the bureaucratic madness. For the uninitiated, 311 is the city’s catch-all complaint line where you can report problems and get answers on most NYC issues, from tracking down something you left in a taxi to reporting bed bugs. But navigating it can be tricky. We recommend this post from the writer behind the aging, agitated civil servant pseudonym Gwenna D’Klein of New York Journal who created a practical guide to calling 311. The guide includes the right vocabulary to use, attitude to have and ways to follow up with your problem. For instance, she explains why you need to be insanely specific about the location of your complaint and how to phrase your problem so you don’t unwittingly end up with an inspector from the Department of Environmental Protection coming to your apartment for your noise complaint about the bar downstairs. In other words, use this as a tour guide to navigate the sometimes-tricky maze that is 311.

New York Journal is also a great place to learn about local politics and art. The articles are easily digestible, and they take the mystery and boring out of state politics. With writers named Gwenna D’Klein, Charles Benson-Hearst, and Jay Emsey, how could you not be entertained?
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One Comment

  • I’ve attempted calling 311 several times when my landlord’s parties got too loud, and the hold times were unbearable. Ultimately, I call my police precint directly for a quicker response — depending on the level of overall rowdiness for the night and number of stabbings/shootings — and am on a first-name basis with the civil-affairs officer.