Property-Related Service Requests

  • What is this?

    The City of Memphis receives more than 170,000 service request calls a year through the 311 Citizen Service Center. This page examines the response time for the most frequently requested services that impact your neighborhood, your property and the roads we travel.

  • Why does it matter?

    We want our neighborhoods to be attractive and clean, free from blight and disrepair. When Memphians call the City to to request service in our neighborhoods, we expect the City to address those requests as quickly as possible and help us make Memphis a better place to live.

  • Who is responsible?

    City of Memphis Public Works Division's departments of Street Maintenance, Ground Maintenance and Neighborhood Improvement.

  • How do we measure performance?

    For each service request, we determine a specific, promised response time for that task and strive for our average response time to meet or beat that promised level of service.

How do we measure speed of response times for these requests?

When someone calls 311 or enters a service ticket online, we file that as a service request. For each requested service, the City has developed a service level agreement (SLA), a response time frame within which Memphians can expect their issue to be addressed. We measure the amount of time that elapses between the when the request is made and when it is fulfilled.

Here's how it works for neighborhood and property requests: When the request enters the system, it is immediately routed to the relevant department in Public Works. Then, the open service requests are tracked through the system as they progress.

For potholes and weed cutting, the response is simple, rarely involves complications, and is quickly closed. However, for yard issues like junky yards and vehicle violations, owners must be warned and then the property must be re-checked for compliance. If the owner doesn't respond, the case will enter the court system, adding detail and steps in the process to complete the request. This is even more likely for buildings with structural issues that are evaluated for rehabilitation or condemnation.

Each request stays open as long as it takes to finish the work and solve the problem. Once the issue is resolved, the service request is closed and the system reports the length of time the request was open, and whether it closed within the designated service level. The City continually strives to lower the average response time, even below the set service level agreement.

In the performance charts below, every request that meets the SLA is depicted in green, anything just past the SLA is in yellow, and anything that is significantly delinquent is shown in orange.

How quickly is the City responding to neighborhood requests?

Potholes and street repair

The Street Maintenance team is accountable for filling all service requests for potholes in five days. Winter is pothole season, as the freezing precipitation seeps into cracks in the road to create potholes and defects. While the Street Maintenance team met their SLA in the winter months of 2014-2015, the large amounts of ice and snow in February and March created a backlog of service requests. The City continued to mend these potholes from late winter and early spring through May. While it addressed the backlog, the average response time rose well above the SLA, as you can see in the chart on the left, below.

The Street Maintenance team isn't just reactive; they also actively scan the city for street defects that need to be addressed. In the chart on the right above, the blue in each bar represents the potholes and repairs performed proactively by the City, while the green represents the portion that were addressed as a response to a 311 request. As you can see, the majority of potholes filled each year are filled proactively by Street Maintenance crews. The severe ice we received late this past winter led the team to fill 24,438 potholes -- a record number of potholes filled in a single month; most were found by the Street Maintenance team in their scan of the city's streets.

Neighborhood and property issues

The Ground Maintenance crews cut grass and weeds on vacant properties. For these 311 service requests, the City can proceed fairly quickly after an initial inspection. In the spring of 2015, Ground Maintenance beat or met the SLA of 25 days consistently.

The City has designated SLAs for all of the code enforcement and neighborhood work it performs, however those SLAs are often not met. Two key factors cause the delay.

The first factor that delays resolution is whether the property with the code complaint is occupied. The City must issue a code violation warning and give the owner or occupant a chance to fix the problem. If an owner or occupant cannot be contacted or is out-of-state, the process is delayed while the CIty attempts to make contact and evaluates options to proceed. For the owners that are contacted quickly, the second factor is compliance. If the City has to address the issue for the owner, or if the issue goes to Environmental Court, that takes additional time. Voluntary owner compliance after a code inspection is the most likely path to the SLA being met.

For items that must be brought to court, the path to resolution is delayed. Structural issues are evaluated as to whether they should be rehabilitated or condemned. If the owner complies with a rehabilitation request, the case closes quickly. If an owner does not initially comply, the case goes to Environmental Court. In these instances, the time to resolution becomes much longer.

How is the City of Memphis working to improve speed of resolving service requests for neighborhood and property issues?

The Public Works division has multiple initiatives to improve performance and efficiency.

  • Street Maintenance remains committed to the five day response for all potholes while also using new technologies to increase the amount of repairs they can complete next year by 10%.
  • Ground Maintenance responds to 311 calls with weed cutting crews and also looks to reduce blight and high weeds on vacant lots and in vacant properties' yards through two other programs: 25 Square and a Council District sweep. 25 Square designates specific 25-block areas as target zones with a high level of vacancy and dedicates crews to perform weeding as well as other beautification work, like litter abatement. Additionally, crews are rotating through each Council District, spending two weeks at a time in the district's neighborhoods performing proactive weeding, litter pick-up and other beautification work.
  • In late 2014, Code Enforcement adopted a zero tolerance policy towards violations. Now, after a single warning is delivered, the owner or occupant has fourteen days to respond. If the problem is not addressed, the case goes directly to court. With the help of the Legal Division and law students at the University of Memphis Law School, additional legal help is now available to take these cases to trial with hope of a quicker resolution. Additionally, Neighborhood Improvement has adopted a policy to perform fewer demolitions, doing everything possible to get homes in the hands of responsible property owners instead of creating a new vacant lot that the City must maintain.

The City of Memphis is also testing a new software tool that would be most heavily used by Public Works. This software would reduce data entry delays and errors that can lead to unresolved requests or mistakes in response.

Further, the City wants to improve communication, transparency and accountability for response to all service requests. This dashboard shows how the City is doing at a high level, aggregating all requests into these charts and reports. If you want to check on the status of your specific request, or the status of work being done in your neighborhood, you can log onto the 311 iTracker and take a look at each of the existing service requests in the city at any given time.

What can I do to help?

If you have any request for City services, call 311 or visit the 311 page online to submit a service request. If you do not receive service within the promised time, call 311 and the matter will be escalated by the 311 management team.

More information