Wednesday, November 25, 2009 - By Ben Berkowitz - 11 comments

A reminder why we started SeeClickFix

(updated 10:00 PM 03.01.09) Apparently there are still communication systems to fix in New Haven...

(Quick background Info: Monterey Place is a public private partnership overseen by the Housing Authority of New Haven. Its a beautiful neighborhood that you would never know is subsidized housing. It replaced the big block projects of the 60's that once stood there and contained the highest crime rates in New Haven. No one wants to see this pilot project slip to the neighborhood it once was. I would argue that allowing the residents to have an easy way to speak-up for keeping the neighborhood in top shape would be a first priority.)

I am currently sitting on hold with Monterey Place housing project. I have been on hold for 4:25 seconds. I am on hold because I am trying to figure out how to report over 10 street lights that have been out for years on the street.

How I got to be on hold with Monterey Place:

1: I reported the lights out on SeeClickFix

2: Sebouh from the City's Street Lighting Division told me that the Street Lights on a number of public streets in the Webster neighborhood of New Haven are actually under the responsibility of the Housing Authority:

"The City does not own the decorative lights located on Webster street. They have been out for quite a while and the management company responsible for the maintenance have been notified numerous times."

3: I call the Housing Authority to report the Street Lights being out and they tell me its the property manager's responsibility. I ask for contact info for the property manager but they do not have it. (Its their contractor)

4: I google Monterey Place and find the contact info and call....

Back in real time: Receptionist comes back to phone and I'm asked who I am and told that I would have to wait for someone to call me back to report the issue. I ask if this is the normal procedure for reporting issues on public property. She Says yes.
I then ask for an email address. She says that that is not public and they are a private company.

My Plan:

1) As I've patiently and apathetically watched the street lights on Webster go out one by one over the last two years without any resolution I've decided that in the interim while waiting for the call back from Monterey Place I will use the email address for the Housing Authority and the general email address for Monterey Place to create a watch area so that citizens can notify the property management company of future issues.

2) If the lights are not on by next week I am going to use a new feature on SeeClickFix where I can print the issue. I will then take that issue and go door to door in Monterey Place letting the neighbors about a new way to alert the management company.

3) I'll also tell them to text their "vote to fix this issue." That feature was just released last night. All they have to do is text "issue x" to 41411

I'll be sure to update this post in real time so you can keep an eye on how my little experiment works.

11.25.2009 1:30 ...Just returned from creating a watch area for Monterey Place and Housing Authority:
You can see the lights out here:[Open]=true&status[Closed]=true&status[Acknowledged]=true&at=&sort=issues.updated_at&num_results=100&commit=Search

Emails have been sent to both Housing Authority and Monterey Place. No call back yet.

11.25.2009 2:30 PM - No call back yet or comments on issue.

11.25.2009 4:22 PM - No call back or comment. However a neighbor reached out say that she would help to mark all of the poles with lights that are out with yellow tape. We agreed to meet on Friday at noon.

11.25.2009 4:24 PM - (blogging this made me realize my stupidity) Just called the neighbor to point out that the lights won't be on Friday at noon. Going to meet her now with a roll of blue painter's tape from the office.

11.25.2009 5:30 PM - Just went to TYCO, brought up newly created issue on their computer, pressed the new Print Flyer Button and printed 50 copies for 5 bucks.

11.25.2009 5:45 PM - Met Lisa Hopkins and Her daughter Heaven at Webster Street and Daniels Street in Monterey Place.

11.25.2009 6:45 PM - We just finished up taping our flyers to the poles. We only had about 10 left when all was said and done. I video'd the fliering and some my conversation with Lisa. That's on the way next. Here's a photo of the flier that was created by the neat little tool that Jeff built today. (obviously the designer hasn't spent much work with it yet:-)

11.25.2009 6:45 PM: I just went over an reported the majority of the light out with the iPhone app so I could get photos as well. In some cases where every light was out on the block I reported 4 as one issue:

Still silent from Monterey Place. They have received alerts on all issues that I posted in the last few hours as well.

By the way, just remembered a quote from a woman in a wheel chair on Wednesday when I was with Lisa: "If we get the street lights on, maybe I can stop carrying my hammer."

11.30.2009 10:42 PM: Back to the old method(telephone). I just got off the phone with Mary, the receptionist at Monterey Place. I asked why I had not been called back yet in regards to the lights. She did not have an answer. I asked about reporting the lights again and she said that I would have to wait for the building manager to come back next week. I explained that these are lights that light the street as well as the sidewalk and the situation might be more urgent than that. She asked me to give the streets where the lights were out. I explained that there were lights out on every street and that, as there are no pole numbers, she might want to look at the site.

She does not have email, so I could not send her the SeeClickFix map of issues. I told her that we had fliered the poles. She says she will create a work order for the poles but would not give me a work order number. She then politely asked me to call back tomorrow.

I'm starting to understand why the streetlights have been out for so long.

12.01.2009 12:16 PM: Just called Monterey Place again. After 4:00 minutes of sitting on hold I was told that a service request could not be filed and I would have to wait till the property manager returned in the middle of next week. I asked if she, the property manager, would call me back. She said she did not know. I again expressed that this was a serious safety issue and asked if there was anything else we could do. She says no.

12.10.2009 10:05 AM: The Street Lights are still out. Not many people have voted in the neighborhood to get them turned on. I'm trying to figure out how to get more people to participate. Sitting on hold with Mary at Monterey Place trying to get more information about when and if the lights were reported out yet. She is clearly tired of talking to me at this point.

12.10.2009 2:36 PM: Just spoke with Dana Proctor, property manager for Monterey Place. They will be having someone repair the lights today and tomorrow. I spoke to the Housing Authority earlier as well. I have now added Dana's email to the Monterey Place Watch area so that she can be alerted immediately next time a light goes out.

03.01.2010 10 PM: The lights are on![Open]=true&status[Closed]=true&status[Acknowledged]=true&at=&sort=issues.updated_at&num_results=100&commit=Search


  1. Anonymous says:

    sticking it to the rock ben!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Just think about how great government run healthcare would be!

  3. Ben says:

    This is not Gov responsibility. This is a private co.

  4. Looking forward to your intervention and publicity helping to resolve this issue.

  5. Anonymous says:


    Doesn't City have oversight on the contractor thru contract?

    You a being given the usual runaround

  6. Ben says:

    I'm not sure what the contract looks like so I'm not sure of the oversight in place. It is concerning that street lights could be out of control of the city. I'm more interested In getting the lights on and creating a better system of co
    mmunication than pointing fingers though.

    SeeClickFix is much better at pointing emails than pointing fingers. Right now it seems like we are all to blame for not straightening this out earlier.

  7. Ben says:

    Thanks Paul,

    The publicity would be nice. Street lights and better communication would be the best though!

    Hopefully the Property Manager will respond pre big local media shaming and they can tell the story of how they were responsive but slow as opposed to how they still aren't responding at all.

  8. Pedro says:

    It also speaks to a larger issue... if the property management co is neglecting the lights, what else are they neglecting?

    They are getting paid by the government to manage this place so the city (or whatever govt has ultimate authority) should certainly be getting it's money's worth, and the residents as well.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Contact Karen Walton, executive director at the Housing Authority. Also, I beleive their board meetings are open to the public. Concerned residents should certainly attend to air their greivances.

  10. This "example" illustrated a bunch of SeeClickFeatures I didn't know about. Thanks!

  11. Ben says:

    Hey John,

    We just released those features the day that this begun.

    I was going to announce today. Please let me know how they work and let me know if the fliers help in your neighborhood.

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