Potholes Need to be Reported Before City Will Pay for Car Repair

Two potholes on Temescal Canyon Road were reported to the City.

Two Potholes on Temescal

Shake a Reporter’s Car

Driving on the downhill side of Temescal Canyon Road on December 12, my car jolted as I ran over what I later learned was one of two potholes in the fast lane.

Initially, I thought the jolt was severe enough that I was going to need a new tire. Luckily it held, but the incident started a search about how the City repairs potholes.

It turns out residents can report potholes via 311 or an app: MyLA311.

Circling the News called 311 on Saturday to report the potholes, but the recorded message said, “Your call cannot be completed as dialed, check the number and dial again.” The 311 Call Center is only open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The Bureau of Street Services website advised, “If you see a pothole, call (800) 996-2489.” CTN called but was told to call back between 7 a.m. to 3:55 p.m. Monday through Friday. (visit:bss.lacity.org/administration/service.htm.)

On the website, the Bureau suggests that written correspondence can be sent to:

Bureau of Street Services
Administrative Services Division,
Customer Service Call Center
1149 South Broadway, 4th Floor
Los Angeles, California 90015

There’s also an online service request and comment form, which I filled out. I was given a Service Request number #1-1254120721.

The Street Services site says it receives about 100,000 requests for service annually. When a request is received, the sender is assigned a number that should be saved for future use. After the call is received, a copy of the request is forwarded to the appropriate division.

According to the Street Maintenance Division on frequently asked questions: (bss.lacity.org/streetmainencance/FAQs.htm

Question: How do I get a pothole fixed?

Answer: “Simple, just use the one call to City Hall, call 3-1-1 to report a pothole. You can also make a request using the city’s MyLA 311or Bureau’s LABSSmobile apps.”

Question: How long does it take to repair a pothole?

Answer: “The Bureau’s goal is to repair potholes by next business day. An inspection will occur to ensure proper repair. Some requests are not potholes and will need to be scheduled at a later date.”

According to a KPCC report in 2016, “How to Report LA Potholes, File Claim for Car Damage,” if your car is damaged y a pothole, take pictures of the damage and the pothole, then fill out and submit a claim form with the City to be reimbursed.

Prior to a March 2014 NBC4 story, “Los Angeles Triples Pothole Payouts,” the City was notoriously slow about paying claims, if at all. Less than 1 in 10 drivers who filed claims with the city for pothole damage received any kind of payment.

After watching the report, L.A. City Attorney Mike Feuer vowed to quickly improve the system for handling pothole claims.

Initially, Feuer’s investigators who researched pothole claims used regular mail to request proof of a pothole from the Bureau of Street Services. Often months later, the Bureau mailed back proof of a pothole to the investigators. (Unless the pothole had been reported, the City will not pay for damages.)

Now, the Bureau of Street Services emails an updated list of all potholes in LA to the City Attorney’s office every two weeks, which allows investigators to process claims faster.

 (On Monday, December 17, this reporter received an email from the City that the inquiry had been received and the status was pending.)

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3 Responses to Potholes Need to be Reported Before City Will Pay for Car Repair

  1. Vicki Warren says:

    I drove through a pothole on Sunset near Marquez in 2017, which caused me to immediately have a flat tire. I reported the pothole and the city fixed it in response to my report. I also made a claim for the damage to my car (spent about $350 on a new tire + wheel alignment) and the claim was rejected. The reason given for the rejection was that the city was not aware of the pothole. That reasoning doesn’t make sense to me, but I didn’t have time to pursue it further.

  2. Paula Deats says:

    For bureaucracy, “Pending” is such a useful word; sort of like parents replying to kids’ “When?” with “Soon.” Also good is “several” (which means more than two, but carries more weight than “a coupla”).So much to learn – that we wish we didn’t have to learn!

  3. Diane Bleak says:

    It gets really fun when you get to drive up the
    Bumpity Bump Palisades Drive (going on average
    About 45 miles an hour) and your tire hits the manhole.
    Glad to see the city (st least) filled-in the
    Sunset pothole across from Pali:)

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