Concerns ranging from graffiti to traffic signal timing — and some more bizarre and hilarious — can be aired daily in Minneapolis, now that the city has expanded its eight-year-old 311 citizen call line to seven days.
On May 31-June 1, the city’s 311 telephone contact center added service on Saturdays and Sundays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Since April 2010, Minneapolis 311 has fielded calls from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. Callers ringing 311 on weekends or after hours were instructed to leave a message for a callback the next business day.
In 2013, graffiti complaints topped the list of 311 callers’ concerns. Next were complaints about snowy or icy sidewalks and parking violators.
There’s hardly a topic left untouched by callers. Questions can be comical or cute but can also leave 311 staff members curious about what’s going on at the other end of the line.
Don Stickney, Minneapolis 311’s director, recalled a few of the more peculiar:
• A woman was convinced the multi-space parking meters were voice-activated because each time she spoke, the meter stopped working.
• “Can you give me the number for 411?”
• “Is this the number I call for an elephant permit?” (Stickney insists it is).
• “My watch was stolen. … Do you know what time it is?”
Just recently, Minneapolis 311 answered call No. 3 million since the service began on Jan. 4, 2006.