The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: Dealing with the City

Don’t you hate it when you send emails to a person’s work address and they never reply?  You know they work in an office, in front of a computer, and you know it’s their job to answer your question, so why don’t they reply?  What about phone calls to a person’s office number that go to voicemail, never to be returned?  These things are anti-customer service-driven, and they bother me to no end.

Welcome to my experiences in dealing with the city.  While I have found about three helpful people in the various city offices that are able to give me real answers, the vast majority of my interactions have been unpleasant.  I’ve found mistakes in city government records (read: MANY mistakes…check your HCAD records, H-town people); I’ve dumbfounded several workers with questions that should not be hard to answer; and I’ve gone downtown, paid to park, walked a few blocks in the rain, only to be stood up by the person I made an appointment to meet.

When the interactions are actually helpful, they are very helpful.  Some people at the city look up records for you without requiring written notice or fees because they can; others will look into odd issues or give you a straight reply and recommendation.  These things aren’t extraordinary feats of customer service, but it sure feels like they are after emailing a person for two months with sporadic (if any) replies.

I am submitting the 59-page (!!) variance request packet for our 10 foot setback issue later this week, and I’m trying very hard not to offend any city workers before they approve our project.  It just seems like they should have a comment card or survey to complete upon dealing with the city departments…they could certainly use the public’s suggestions.

To illustrate the ridiculousness of the packet, above is what they call an “aerial photo exhibit” of our plans “super-imposed” upon a recent “aerial photo of the area.”  Here’s hoping Google maps and basic publishing software do the job.


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