No one likes driving over a pothole, or walking under a broken streetlight, or tripping over a scooter laying haphazardly somewhere it shouldn’t be. For years, the City of San Diego’s 311 department has asked you to report problems like those through its “Get It Done” mobile app.
Hundreds of thousands of complaints get sent through the app every year, and all of them are published online.
NBC 7 Investigates took a deep dive through the data to find out how much San Diegans complain and what we complain about the most. It turns out people in America’s Finest City are not just complaining, they’re complaining in numbers much higher than before.
The app got more than 213,000 complaints during the first eight months of this year. That’s nearly double the 128,000 complaints it got during the first eight months of last year. And about 8,000 more than the same time period in 2019.
So what are San Diegans complaining about? The number one complaint so far this year is illegal dumping. In fact, this makes up nearly 20% of all 311 complaints through the app.
“I was gone for college for four years,” says Valerie Rodriguez. “And I’ve noticed that whenever I come back, it just seems dirtier, the neighborhood. People leave stuff on the sidewalk more than they did before.”
After that, the top complaints, in order, are parking issues, missed trash pickup, encampments, scooters, graffiti, potholes and streetlights.
“I think it’s important because we live in San Diego,” says Jenna Osenbaugh. “People come here and they want to be happy. This is a place where almost everyone I talk to enjoys living in. And if there are these small inconveniences it makes it a place you don’t want to live in. So then you want to move somewhere else.”
And it looks like what people care the most about can change dramatically from one year to the next.
We looked at last year’s complaints and found pothole complaints spiked the most, nearly quadrupling from 2020 to 2021. And while that’s still a big drop from the more than 15,000 complaints in 2019, folks we talked to agree -- by far, potholes seemed to be the biggest headache.
“That’s a big problem,” says Osenbaugh. “Especially in the area where I live. All the roads seem pretty bad. And when they have small fixes they’re not really great fixes.”
“I’ve seen the city come and fix the potholes,” says Michelle McDaniel. “But the minute we get a good rain, it just comes up! It’s like gravel and it just washes it out. So one rain and it’s no good. It’s like the city doesn’t fill a wide enough stretch.”
Just four months ago, Mayor Todd Gloria announced his so-called “Sexy Streets” initiative - a plan to invest $40 million into repairing and repaving streets and fixing sidewalks.
Another major change we noticed in our analysis -- San Diegans are complaining about scooters more than ever before. There were about 10,000 complaints in the first eight months of 2019, and so far this year, that number has jumped to more than 23,000 complaints.