Can I call 311 to report problems with 311?

Or, will 311 punt that problem back to me?

I really don’t know the answer to that based on my recent experiences with the promising but occasionally underwhelming city service.

Randall Dietel’s recent tweet let me know that I’m not alone in my frustration:

For example, check out this exchange with Minneapolis 311:

From: Ed Kohler
Subject: Lake Street LRT Stop Elevators Smell like urine

They seem overdue for a thorough cleaning.

– Ed Kohler

The response:

Dear Mr. Kohler,

We appreciate your email. Light rail is owned and maintained by Metro Transit. They can be reached at 612-373-3333 or via their webpage at

If there is anything else we can help you with please contact us. Thank you for emailing the City of Minneapolis.


Minneapolis 311
Office 612-673-3000 Hours: 7 am – 7 pm (Monday – Friday)

Interesting, eh?

If there is graffiti on my house, or my property wreaked of urine, would the city take the same approach? Would they tell people to call me to solve their problem? I doubt it.

If graffiti was reported on the Target store 50 yards from the stinky LRT elevators, wouldn’t 311 hold Target responsible for maintaining their property?

Why is Metro Transit, who owns property in the City of Minneapolis, treated differently than individual property owners?

Here is a slightly different punt of the same problem from November 2012:

LRT elevator smells like urine

The above screenshot shows a report I filed with 311 using the city’s smartphone app. I took a picture of the South elevator door, geocoded the photo, and described the problem. Here was 311’s response:

LRT Smells like Urine

Unlike the first example, this time the 311 responder didn’t seem to bother reading the report before closing it. But, one thing is consistent. They’ve chosen to punt the problem back to the person reporting it, me, rather than hold the property owner responsible for maintaining their property. If they believe the school is the problem, 311 should work with the school to solve the problem, just like they’d hold personal private property owners responsible for the state of their properties.