Staff shortage closes agency at lunch hour
My worker went to City Hall to get a construction permit. Customer service at the Department of Planning and Permitting was excellent and prompt, unlike the service at the city Department of Transportation Services, which was closed from noon to 1 for lunch. This contradicts their sign, which says it is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. We needed approval to work on a roadway. The one-hour delay costs my business and other contractors, as well. Can you find out why this service is not available throughout the day? I think that an agency that provides direct customer service should be open during the entire business day. I can't think of any other permit agency that closes for lunch. This is poor management and customer service.
Answer: A temporary sign has since been added to note the lunchtime closure, while a new sign will be made to replace the existing sign.
For now, that means the lunch break remains in effect.
The reason is a shortage of staff in the Street Usage Permit Branch, said Melvin Kaku, director of transportation services.
Because of that, the branch is unable to have a person staffing the service counter during lunch.
"To be consistent and not have the public guessing if the counter will be open, we close for lunch," Kaku said.
However, the department is in the process of hiring an additional clerk to be available during the noon hour, he said.
In the meantime, permit applications can be left on the permit counter -- "as instructed by the sign" -- during the lunch period, and "it will be reviewed promptly," he said.
The same thing can be done if there is a line; someone will call when the permit is approved, he said.
Kaku said customers also are continually reminded that the department's rules and regulations state that "all persons intending to perform any work on or adjacent to a public street or highway shall apply for and obtain a permit from the appropriate authority" at least five days prior to beginning work.
This is to allow sufficient time for the department to review and process the application, he said.
Q: You are my last resort, after calling my councilman's office twice and the city's complaints number. There has been loose gravel on the sidewalk wheelchair ramp at a crosswalk on Ala Napunani Street in Salt Lake ever since a nearby pothole was filled over a couple of months ago. The crosswalk and ramp in question are located near the right-turn approach to Likini Street at the traffic roundabout. I have walked on it to cross the street there and felt the gravel slipping underfoot. It is gradually, but very, very slowly, washing and blowing into the gutter. I have thought about sweeping it up myself although I live a long block away. Can you help?
A: We asked if the city Road Maintenance Division could simply sweep up the gravel.
We were informed yesterday that it was "done."
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