L.A. Ready to Unveil User-Friendly System For City Hall Calling
By HOWARD FINE
Help is on the way for anyone fed up with being shunted from department to department at City Hall.
The city of L.A.’s long awaited “311” information system is set to launch sometime next month. Dubbed “One Call to City Hall,” the 311 system is supposed to function as a one-stop call center to handle thousands of inquiries a day, for everything from trimming trees to getting a business license. An operator refers callers to the appropriate department.
Officials plan to launch an equivalent service called Citywide Service Directory on the city’s Web site, lacity.org.
The system was first proposed nearly four years ago by former L.A. Mayor Richard Riordan and City Councilman Alex Padilla, who at the time was chair of the council’s technology and telecommunications committee.
“It shouldn’t be up to the citizens of Los Angeles to figure out how to navigate through the city bureaucracy,” Padilla said. “It should be the other way around.”
The project languished for 18 months before being resurrected last year under Mayor James Hahn.
The estimated cost to set up the 311 call center, which is located in the L.A. Mall underneath City Hall East, is $5 million.
The call center originally was set to go live in September but technical glitches pushed back the start date two months. “We felt it was essential to work out all the bugs before putting this before the citizens,” Padilla said.