Our View: City has a case of dueling pothole reporting systems

We are all for finding ways to get our potholes filled as expeditiously as possible. But, sometimes, good intentions slow the system down, rather than speed it up.

With Sherri Lightner’s help, a dent was made in the backlog of repairs needed around La Jolla and we know, from driving around town and talking to the supervisors in the city’s public works division that it’s an ongoing battle.

They strive to get fixes made within 72 hours of receiving a report — and sooner if the hole is considered especially dangerous, in which case they’ll get it fixed as soon as they can get a crew on it.

Here’s how it works: Calls to the city’s Emergency Service Request hotline at (619) 527-7500 go straight into the work order system and are processed immediately, according to city officials. The same holds for reports through the city’s website at or via e-mail to the department.

Now there’s also “San Diego 311,” a smartphone app being touted by Councilman and mayoral candidate Carl DeMaio.

In a press release, he said, it “serves as a one-stop shop of city services and streamlines how those services are provided.” But that doesn’t seem to be quite right.

Using the app (

), one can take a photo with a smartphone and send it in to DeMaio’s office.

“If the report is received during business hours, it is processed almost immediately,” said DeMaio’s spokesman Jeff Powell.

A great idea, but for now, it is not quite as seamless as they make it sound, and we wonder if it’s not more of a public relations move for his campaign than a real solution.

Any 311 reports go into a spreadsheet that someone on DeMaio’s staff (often interns, said Powell) enters into the city’s CompleteGov system.

A city spokesman said via e-mail that “it would be extremely costly to integrate the 311 commercial software with the city’s proprietary system.”

For now, they are keeping an eye on the “workload the 311 system requires.” If it increases, they will ask District 5 staff to enter the reports via the web system — “which is faster and more efficient than the system they’re now using,” the spokesman said.

As we have noted, anything that gets potholes fixed is a good thing.

For now, though, we recommend reporting those dips to the city’s hotline for faster response.