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LA struggles to respond to record number of pothole reports

Two deep potholes at the corner of First Street and Glendale Boulevard near downtown L.A.
Meghan McCarty KPCC
FILE: Two deep potholes at the corner of First Street and Glendale Boulevard near downtown L.A.

Southern California's series of winter storms quadrupled the number of pothole reports received by the city of Los Angeles last month, taxing its ability to deliver on a promise to respond within three working days.

This week's rains will likely add to the request for fixes and applications for compensation after vehicles are damaged when rolling over the craters.

During typical seasons without storms, the Los Angeles Bureau of Street Services receives about 30 requests a day, according to Assistant Director Greg Spotts. In December, the department fielded about 50 requests per day. Then, in January, that jumped to an average of 120 requests per day.

"The call volume is the highest we've seen," said Spotts.

For the month of January, the city received a total of about 3,700 pothole requests for fixes, four times the usual monthly workload.

The city promises to respond to each pothole report within three business days. So has it? Spotts said his department had succeeded in repairing 85 percent of the reports within four working days.

Last month, L.A. City Councilman Bob Blumenfeld introduced a motion that would require the Bureau of Street Services to report on how long it took to respond to reports and how much funding it would take to reduce the time.

Spotts said that despite the increased load of requests, new technology has made the department more nimble in responding. The department has been outfitted with tablets that allow crews to get real time information on where potholes have been reported.

The city offers multiple ways to report potholes:

• Use the MyLA311 app. Use the "Submit Service Request" feature. Drivers can drop a GPS marker at the exact location.

• Call 3-1-1 (or 213-473-3231 outside the Los Angeles area). 

In cities other than L.A., drivers can call:

  • Beverly Hills: (310) 285-2467
  • Culver City: (310) 253-6420  
  • Santa Monica: (310) 458-2252 or (310) 458-8505
  • Pasadena: (626-744-7311) or report the issue online through the Citizen Service Center
  • Long Beach: (562) 570-2726

If your car is damaged from a pothole, you can take pictures of your car and the pothole, then fill out and submit a claim form with the city of L.A. to seek reimbursement. Check out these tips for winning a claim.