How quickly is Fresno addressing issues in the city?

Potholes, damaged street lights, graffiti... how quickly are public works crews addressing issues within the city of Fresno? Action News investigates.

Video Transcript

VANESSA VASCONCELOS: Potholes, damaged street lights, graffiti-- these are just a few of the problems public works crews tackle within the city of Fresno.

DENNIS CARMICKLE: The water leak right here is going to be serious, and I figured I'd better get a hold of the city and let them know.

VANESSA VASCONCELOS: Dennis Carmickle has lived in his central Fresno home for 25 years, but this is the first time he's called on the city for repair work, something he says was a piece of cake thanks to the FresGo app.

DENNIS CARMICKLE: And they were out here within an hour and a half.

VANESSA VASCONCELOS: Public Works director Scott Mozier says safety takes top priority when it comes to response times.

SCOTT MOZIER: About one out of seven of those calls are related to public works issues. Highest items are generally street trees, and also potholes.

VANESSA VASCONCELOS: One complaint that's now made less often is streetlight outages. That's because the city converted 34,000 to LEDs over the last two years.

JERRY DYER: The culture that we're creating in the city of Fresno is a culture that says we work for you. We work for this community.

- A culture Mayor Jerry Dyer says employees support.

JERRY DYER: There's been a lot of things that have crept up on us, and people have a lot of issues that they're dealing with in neighborhoods, whether it's graffiti or trash or whatever it is. They-- and they expect us to respond.

VANESSA VASCONCELOS: Take the illegal dumping near the Action News studio-- piles of clothes, electronics, a shopping cart, even needles could be found near [? G ?] and [? Stanozolol ?] Street.

It's been 11 days since I submitted that complaint, and this morning, I received this message, saying that the issue was completed. But as you can see, outside of positioning, not much has changed.

Turns out the problem is so widespread, city crews cleared the adjacent block, thinking it was my request. Within 40 minutes of me reaching out for clarification through the app, city staff responded. By lunch, the underpass was cleared.

JERRY SCHUBER: We try to get to those locations as quickly as possible to try to clean it up before it spreads.

VANESSA VASCONCELOS: Just two days later, new items had piled up. Illegal dumping ranks third out of the most common complaint through FresGo and 311.

JERRY SCHUBER: We see a lot of places where it's easy to dump and drive away really quick. We get that in alleys.

VANESSA VASCONCELOS: Action News obtained the FresGo call log, and after clearing out duplicate requests and incomplete addresses, data showed just 25 of more than 6,100 complaints went unanswered. City data also shows the 93701 and 93702 zip codes make up a combined 25% of those calls. The average time to close each case is roughly 72 hours. But that may change this year, with Beautify Fresno efforts drawing hundreds of volunteers per weekend to areas prone to litter.

- It's just nice to watch Fresno start to own itself, and really want to be clean and clean itself up and have a partnership in that.

VANESSA VASCONCELOS: Graffiti remains the number one reported problem plaguing the city of Fresno, making up one third of the city's nearly 75,000 unique calls to service. But community sanitation manager Jet Lim says that's an improvement.

JET LIM: Maybe about 12, 15 years ago, we were removing close to 4 million square feet of graffiti in one year. And in the past two, three years, we are probably removing close to maybe 1.6 to 1.8 million. So there's a huge drop in numbers.

VANESSA VASCONCELOS: With easing pandemic restrictions, he's expecting to see a rise in call volume. During the first two months of 2021, the department had more than 4,200 calls for graffiti, up 9% compared to January and February of 2020. But the square footage of graffiti removed increased by 15%, suggesting the tag areas are getting bigger.

JET LIM: We want to serve our community with compassion and with vision and restore our neighborhoods, return dignity and pride to them.

VANESSA VASCONCELOS: That leadership by example has ramped up Beautify Fresno efforts, getting the entire community involved. For ways to volunteer, visit our website, ABC30.com. In Fresno, Vanessa Vasconcelos, ABC 30 Action News.