Ward Superintendents Meeting - Recap

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Missed the meeting on 9/23?

NO problem!  Read all about it here and go back and watch our Facebook Live video of the meeting.

Who came to the meeting?

Not in attendance:

What is a Ward Superintendent?

According to the City of Chicago, a ward superintendent "...monitors sanitation services that include refuse collection, street cleaning, and snow removal for an assigned ward in the Bureau of Sanitation, and performs related duties as required." (NOTE: Aldermen appoint people to this position.  Ward superintendents perform duties as requested by the aldermen but are officially employees of the Department of Streets and Sanitation.)

Essential duties include (but are not limited to):

  • Monitors the day-to-day work operations within a designated ward to ensure residents receive needed sanitation services
  • Assists the Division Superintendent with work crews engaged in sanitation work activities (e.g., refuse, bulk trash, compost collection, street cleaning, basket pick-up)
  • Works with Refuse Collection Coordinators engaged in investigating complaints and issuing sanitation code violation tickets
  • Monitors completion of refuse collection routes to ensure all areas of the ward are serviced
  • Observes work crews in the field & monitors productivity levels to assess efficiency of operations
  • Requests needed non-sanitation services from appropriate bureaus and City departments
  • Investigates and follows up on service requests and complaints forwarded from the division office to ensure their proper resolution
  • Assists division staff in coordinating snow and ice removal activities within the ward
  • Meets with public officials, community groups, ward residents, and attends community meetings to address problems and provide information on the bureau's sanitation programs
  • Drives a vehicle to survey overall conditions in the ward, assessing cleanliness of ward areas, and identifying need for additional City services
  • Monitors the recycling program and the completion of recycling collection routes to ensure all areas of the ward are serviced

Supe Q&A

Residents submitted questions ahead of time and had the opportunity to ask more throughout the meeting.  Here's what the ward superintendents had to say.

  • Is there a limit to the number of garbage/recycling cans per residence?

    • Each ward sets its own maximum number of garbage/recycling cans per residence.  
    • You may either contact 311 or submit a service request through Chicago Works for an additional garbage/recycling can.
    • If you have trouble receiving an additional can, call your ward superintendent or alderman and reference your 311 request.
    • Residences of four units (or more) must hire private garbage/recycling pickup who provide their own bins or dumpsters to the property.
      • If you see that a larger building is not adequately addressing garbage needs (i.e. there's too much garbage next to bins, there's no recycling, etc.), contact your alderman or ward superintendent.  Be as specific as possible with address and landlord (if possible).
  • Why do garbage collectors take recycling?

    • 1) You may have contaminated recycling.  Typically, recycling collectors try to leave a notice on the contaminated bin as a warning so you can fix the problem (even if you did not put the contaminated products in the bin).  You can learn more about what is recyclable and how you can end contamination at the Chicago Recycle By City website.  Remember: do not put plastic bags (especially garbage and grocery bags) in your recycling bin!
    • 2) Your block may often have many contaminated recycling bins.  If you believe this is the case, call your ward superintendent and be as specific as possible.  They can address garbage and recycling pickup personnel directly.
  • When are certain buildings (marked condemned) being torn down?

    • This is a question for the Chicago Department of Buildings.  Any permits, licenses, inspections, and demolitions are handled through this department.  Even if a report about a building is made to an alderman, he/she contacts Buildings for a solution.  
    • You can contact the Buildings department directly to make a report if you think an inspection of a property is needed.  
    • If you make a report, be as specific as possible (give owner information, street address, violation, etc.) and take down a case number so you can follow-up if need be.
  • How do residents get more public garbage cans along major streets?

    • First, contact your alderman and ward superintendent.  Especially in wards that do not engage in Participatory Budgeting (26th ward in Hermosa), you must contact the alderman/superintendent to get the ball rolling to install more garbage cans.  Typically, an alderman will ask residents to sign a petition to see if the majority of residents want the items.  75% of residents on both sides of the street must sign the petition in order for an alderman to consider the instillation of the item.
    • Currently, additional public garbage cans are an item on the 36th Ward Participatory Budgeting Ballot this year.  Voting will take place throughout the ward in October.
    • In wards that participate in Participatory Budgeting, you may propose additional public garbage cans as a ballot item for any PB cycle. 
  • Who do we contact for tree-trimming requests?
    • Submit a request to 311 or the Chicago Works app.  When submitting the request, be as specific as possible with description of tree growth, what it's impacting (i.e. power lines, cables, alleyways, etc.), and exact address.
      • Always make note of your service request case number in case you need to follow-up.
  • Some residents near large businesses have large amounts of fly dumping in their alleys - how can we address this?

    • Call your ward superintendent or alderman directly and report the illegal dumping.  Be specific with items dumped, times (note as many as you can), business name, and names of perpetrators (if applicable).  
  • How can we get speed bumps for a specific street or alley?

    • Contact your alderman directly. An alderman will ask residents to sign a petition to ensure the majority of residents want the items.  75% of residents on both sides of the street must sign the petition in order for an alderman to consider the instillation of the item.
      • For example, if you live on Pulaski Rd. and would like speed humps in the alley between Pulaski and Keystone, 75% of residents on BOTH Pulaski and Keystone avenues would have to sign the petition.
  • My neighbor's garage is leaning on mine and they won't return calls - how do I fix this?

    • This is a question for the Chicago Department of Buildings.  Any permits, licenses, inspections, and demolitions are handled through this department.  Even if a report about a building is made to an alderman, he/she contacts Buildings for a solution.  
    • In a case like this, you may also contact the Ward Superintendent who will be able to follow-up directly with Buildings and the property owner to speed up process.
    • You can contact the Buildings department directly to make a report if you think an inspection of a property is needed.  
    • If you make a report, be as specific as possible (give owner information, street address, violation, etc.) and take down a case number so you can follow-up if need be.
  • How do we address issues like yard garbage, weeds/overgrown plants, plants growing onto power lines, etc.?

    • Contact your ward superintendent directly and be as specific as possible with growth issues, address, and property owner name (if applicable).
  • Who is in charge of cleaning and maintaining parkways - residents or the city?

    • Residents are in charge of the parkway directly in front of their property.  This means cleaning up litter, watering any plants/trees (if applicable), and shoveling sidewalks in the winter.
    • Businesses are in charge of the parkway directly in front of their property.  If you believe a business is not cleaning its portion of the parkway, contact your ward superintendent directly and be as specific as possible with description, address, and business name.
  • How many tickets have supes given for littering, fly-dumping, and/or not shoveling sidewalks (in the winter)?  Why so few?

    • District supervisor.... said that when most superintendents receive reports of these things, they first contact the business or resident (home or building owner) and allow them between 24-72 hours (depending on issue) to remedy the problem.  
      • Superintendents reported that the majority of people remedy the issue in this time period so no ticket is necessary.
    • Some at the meeting expressed concern that they have reported issues and they have not been remedied or the perpetrator is slow to fix the problem.  The District Supervisor said that many problems are not reported for several days (typically when they become a large issue or several people report at once) so the problem is not resolved quickly.  
      • If you see illegal dumping, littering, or a resident/business that does not shovel, contact your alderman and/or ward superintendent immediately.  Follow-up after 24- or 48-hours if the problem is not resolved.
  • Who picks up yard waste?

    • If you have yard waste, submit a service request to 311.  Once you submit the request, put your bags out and they will be picked up.  
      • Yard waste may only be contained in brown bags (typically purchased from home improvement stores, grocery stores, or places like Target).
    • If you have ONLY leaves, submit a service request to 311 and be specific.  
      • Leaves are picked up by a different service and composted.
    • You can also contact your alderman or ward superintendent or drop bags off directly at a ward office if you prefer.
  • Is a landlord required to post a "managed by" sign and phone number on their building(s)?

    • YES.  If you know that a landlord has not posted their information, call your alderman directly and give the address.

Tips

  • Download the Chicago 311 app: Chicago Works.

    • HNA board member and resident Jenna Sigman said that she has way more success submitting service requests to the 311 app than calling and speaking to someone.  She said that, so far, 100% of service requests she has submitted through Chicago Works have been successfully addressed, including receiving additional garbage and recycling cans.
  • ALWAYS log a case number when submitting requests to 311/Chicago Works.  

    • Write down the case number given by the operator or note it in your app.  In the app, you can see a list of nearby reports as well as those you have submitted and their status.
  • BE AS SPECIFIC AS POSSIBLE when making reports or service requests.

    • For example, if you witness a neighbor repeatedly dumping their trash into the alley (instead of in a bin), make note of the time (at least once) and the neighbor's full address.  Give this information to the reporting agency and be as specific as possible - all of the ward superintendents agreed that this is the best way for them (or any other government department) to respond to requests and complaints.  
    • Follow-up.  If you've made a report and the issue still isn't resolved, follow-up with your superintendent, alderman, 311, or government department.  Always reference a case number (if you have it) and be as specific as possible.
  • If a problem is not resolved, report it again!

    • The superintendents indicated that, too often, residents report an issue once and never follow-up.  While it is not ideal to have to call someone several times to remedy an issue, it may be necessary since superintendents and aldermen are busy and their wards are very large.  It is not impossible for them to address citizens' issues but it takes time.
  • Check out the City of Chicago City Services page.  

    • This alphabetical list includes every service the City of Chicago offers to residents and who to contact regarding specific concerns.
  • In a landlord-owned building, the landlord is responsible for resolving all complaints.

    • For example, if you submit a request about a rental neighbor who dumps their garbage in the alley instead of a garbage can, the landlord will be the person warned and fined by the city, not the renter.  
    • You should still submit requests and contact your alderman but it may also be easier to call the number listed on the building and report the tenant directly to the landlord.  Always be as specific as possible.