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Bustleton residents get a lesson in 311

“[The Northeast] is the envy of the city.” That’s what 311 employee Jim Sanders told attendees at last night’s Greater Bustleton Civic League meeting as he began his presentation on the city’s answer to the abundance of 911 calls.

Sanders, the Citizen/City Council Engagement Coordinator for 311, explained to Bustleton residents the background story around 311, and its purpose in Philadelphia.

Started in Baltimore in 1996, 311 was introduced to the city last year as a way to alleviate the high volume of non-emergency calls to 911. Since its induction, 311 has received more than one million calls.

In the video below, Sander explains the Neighborhood Liaison Program.

The idea, Sanders explained, is to eliminate the need for every city agency to have an individual contact number, and to allow residents to get help and answers from a central line. But the Streets Department and the Department of License and Inspections are directly connected to 311, as the two departments are most commonly sought after.

GBCL zoning matters

After a motion to oppose from residents, zoning was denied for a property in the Camelot Shopping Center at Red Lion and Verree Roads.

Residents opposed the proposed beer distributor 18-15, after the owner and his lawyer made two appearances before the GBCL

When it came to answer questions from residents, Sanders, who earlier said people in other parts of the city want to emulate the Northeast, fielded questions about L&I response time, snow plows and communication with City Council. Though some expressed dissatisfaction with service, many attested to 311’s ability to help get things done more efficiently.

Also at last night’s meeting…GBCL President Bernice Hill, who will step down from her role, was honored by State Rep. Brendan Boyle for her service to Bustleton. Boyle presented Hill with a House resolution (as seen in the video below), marking her 37 years as  GBCL member. Hill, who’s been president since November 2005, will sit in as acting vice president until April to make the transition smoother for the other officers. She shared the moment with her daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter.

On a final note…As the meeting was adjourned, residents asked a representative for Councilwoman Maria Quinones Sanchez to answer questions about what looks like a new school at 1806 Grant Ave., on the border of Sanchez’s and Councilman Brian O’Neill’s districts. Residents say the school, which appears to have opened up illegally overnight, is connected to a recent uptick in neighborhood crimes, and they want Sanchez’s office to shut it down. Sanchez’s assistant, who told the angry residents, “it’s not my job to knock on doors,” offered to confer with O’Neill, the 7th District Police captain and L&I to investigate a business he says no one knows anything about. If it is a school, he told GBCL members, he’ll have L&I issue a Cease and Desist.

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