Finding the right contact in Los Angeles city government to remove debris from a police pursuit proved more challenging than an Encino couple expected.
Jim and Pam Truran returned from a weekend out of town to find a spike strip-punctured tire sitting in Rubio Avenue next to the curb outside their home, where it would remain for 12 days, after they had made several calls to City Hall.
The tire ultimately was removed by a city worker from the Bureau of Sanitation's West Valley yard. It would have been done sooner, said Supervisor Kenney Lampton, but word of the Trurans' situation did not reach him until NBC4 got involved.
The unwanted rubber was from a pursuit through the San Fernando Valley during pre-dawn hours on Jan. 17. The pursued pickup truck ultimately came to a halt on the Ventura (101) Freeway. Miles earlier, a spike strip had punctured the trucks tires, and among the three that shredded and came off was the one that ended up next to the Trurans' curb.
It was not an especially big eyesore, but not their idea of a souvenir to keep, and they expected it would be removed on their Thursday trash collection day.
"We figured that they would come and pick it up," Pam Truran said.
When it remained, she called Los Angeles City Hall's 311 information line. At one point she was told removing it could take a month or two.
"Everytime we call we get a different little twist on it," she said.
She made more calls and sent out emails, including one to NBC4 to look into the matter.
Calling 3-1-1 again Wednesday morning, Pam Truran was told the West Valley yard in Northridge would take the tire. It was there that NBC4 found Lampton, who immediately dispatched one of his staffers to remove the tire and bring it to the yard.
"If it's somethng as small as a tire and a safety hazard, we can get it the same day," Lampton said.
So why had City Hall channels failed to notify him of this sooner?
It turns out the Sanitation Bureau has a number of rules regarding tires, which may have led to some confusion and misunderstanding among those taking the calls from the Trurans.
Tires are not among the categories of waste or recyclables that the Sanitation Bureau collects on a weekly basis. Nor do tires qualify for the bulky item pickup that residents can schedule. However, as Lampton explained, there is an exception for a tire that was abandoned and poses a potential public hazard, as on Rubio Avenue.
If it's your used tire, the city won't come to your location to collect it. But you drop it off at West Valley or one of the other city yards.
The one to two month estimate given the Trurans remains a mystery that could be fathomed by neither Lampton nor Bureau spokesman Richard Lee at Public Works downtown.
There is a waiting list for bulky item pickup. But in West Valley, crews usually can make the pickup by the next regular weekly collection day, Lampton said.
Citywide, there is no backlog for bulky item pickup, Lee said.
Los Angeles resident who need to reach Sanitation can call 3-1-1 and ask to be transferred, or they can call direct 800-773-CITY. If you misplace the number, Lampton said you can find it printed on your barrells.
In response to an inquiry from NBC4, the Mayor's office said it would like into the Trurans frustration in getting through to the right person to deal with their situation.