KHOU 11 stands for Houston, getting action on a mountain of trash in a matter of hours for residents who say they’d been ignored for weeks by the city.
Now the mayor is making changes.
“We need to do better, and we will do better,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner on Wednesday morning, during his weekly press conference. “I do appreciate the station for highlighting the issue.”
Mayor Turner is promising the fix the city's 311 system, which saw more than 8,000 calls about illegal dumping in 2016.
Turner wants to make sure people are heard.
In the heart of the Sunnyside neighborhood where Vickie Pinkston lives, works, and prays is a reoccurring eyesore and a health hazard that she says lingers for weeks, even after 311 calls and the occasional heavy trash pickup.
“You’re dumping your trash in front of my front door at my house of worship,” said Pinkston, who was born and raised in Sunnyside and has lived there most of her life. “It’s intolerable is what it is.”
Pinkston’s neighbor emailed KHOU 11 about that pile of debris in front of the Southeast Community Church.
She also called 311 after seeing KHOU 11 reporter Josh Chapin’s story Monday night about a similar problem across town.
Mayor Sylvester Turner saw it, too.
“That was the subject of the conversation around the table this morning,” said Mayor Turner. “I want to drill down and take a look at 311 and (make) sure that we have a more integrated, seamless system that can respond much quicker.”
The mayor vowed to attack this problem like he did with potholes.
Sometimes there’s a breakdown in the system,” he said. "The calls may be then transferred to some other department and it may sit there. We didn’t have a seamless system.”
Another challenge, he says: people dumping again on a site city crews just cleaned up days or hours before.
Mayor Turner called for more resources and for the community’s help.
“Because many times people may know who’s actually doing that illegal dumping,” he said.
“Let us know what we can do to help,” said Pinkston. “We’re here to make the call. We’re here to even try to jot down license plates of the offenders.”
Whatever steps she can take to stop this problem and get it off of her front door.
“Because it’s a poverty neighborhood, you think you can come and dump your trash in,” said Pinkston. “And it’s not the case.”
Pinkston said she’d also like to see more lighting and cameras here.
The mayor says he’s still working with staff to create a timeline for the changes.
He also threw out the idea of creating an online dashboard, as the city did with potholes, where both he and residents can see when and where reports of illegal dumping have been filed, as well as their status.