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How to report LA potholes, file claim for car damage

Two deep potholes at the corner of First Street and Glendale Boulevard near downtown L.A.
Meghan McCarty KPCC
Two deep potholes at the corner of First Street and Glendale Boulevard near downtown L.A. rattled the car of at least one driver over the weekend.

It’s not just hydroplaning and bad visibility that drivers may contend with during El Niño storms: the rains can exacerbate Los Angeles' already bumpy roads, creating or widening existing potholes.

Downtown L.A. resident Nelson Abreau encountered one crater over the weekend as he was turning onto Glendale Boulevard from First Street near Echo Park. 

"I got a pretty big one. I really thought I might have damaged my car, my tire," Abreau said.

He reported it to the city using an app called MyLA311.

When we checked on the pothole, it was still there — though, to be fair, the city has another day to repair it. The L.A. Bureau of Street Services says it responds to pothole reports in three working days or fewer and, during last week's storms, the agency received double the usual number of reports.

Kevin James, the president of the Board of Public Works that oversees BSS, said there is a chance if El Niño brings successive storms that the department could see a backlog of potholes, which would extend response time to five rather than three days.

The department has four extra crews at the ready to respond to the pothole onslaught during heavy rains.

Potholes are caused when water seeps under the asphalt and causes erosion. That leads the asphalt to sink and crack.

Here's how to report a pothole or to file a claim for damage if your car gets damaged driving over a pothole:

  • Call 3-1-1 (or 213-473-3231 outside the Los Angeles area) or use the app to report a pothole
  • In cities other than L.A., call:
    Beverly Hills: (310) 285-2467
    Culver City: (310) 253.6420  
    Santa Monica: (310) 458-2252 or (310) 458-8505 
  • If your car is damaged from a pothole, take pictures of your car and the pothole then fill out and submit a claim form with the city to be reimbursed.
  • Check out these tips for having your claim approved.