These Local Resources Are Here to Help You Get Things Done

Who do you call when trying to get things done in your community? Here are the resources you need to start on the path to change, whether you’re trying to get garbage picked up or trying to talk to city council.

Illustration by Paul Tong

If my garbage isn’t getting picked up (in the city of Cincinnati)…

Use the Fix It Cincy! mobile app (or cagismaps.hamilton-co.org/csr/cincinnati or call 513-591-6000) to submit a service ticket. The city has made it quick and easy to request dozens of services, from flagging a missed garbage collection to reporting graffiti or potholes. If you have an issue you need resolved, it’s a safe bet to check here first.

If I want my local high school to change its mascot…

Go to your local school board. The board can take up the issue at a meeting, open the floor to community discussion, create a motion, and vote on whether the change will take place and how it would be funded and executed.

If my neighbor is subdividing his lot to build another house on it…

Go to the Cincinnati Department of Buildings & Inspections, which administers the city’s zoning laws and can examine property developments to determine compliance. If you’re planning on building, the department provides permit request forms at cincinnati-oh.gov/buildings/zoning-administration, where you can also report zoning code violations.

If I want to report police misconduct…

File a formal complaint with the city’s Citizen Complaint Authority at cincinnati-oh.gov/ccia or by calling (513) 352-1600. The board is independent from the police department and investigates civil liberty and excessive force violations during police-community interactions, in accordance with the 2002-adopted Collaborative Agreement.

If I want to make a street safer for pedestrian crossing…

Request that an area be evaluated for a new crosswalk via FixIt Cincy! But if an existing crosswalk is dangerous—such as the Linn Street crosswalk where West End resident Donna Pringle was struck and killed by a vehicle in July—then go to your local community council, which can back the request to city council. The city’s transportation department engineers can evaluate traffic patterns and implement a lane reduction or rechannelization, which council will have to work into the budget.

If I want city council to know I support the reallocation of city funding…

Attend council’s Budget & Finance Committee meetings and speak out during public forums. The annual budget is pulled together over several months and has a strict end-of-June deadline—so don’t expect complex changes in the final weeks.

So what am I supposed to do at that meeting?

Engaging city council is a surefire way to have your voice heard on the issues that matter most to you. From infrastructure plans (Narrow Liberty Street to make way for larger sidewalks?) to overhauling fundamental processes (Reallocate police funding?), city council decisions affect every citizen every day, says City Councilmember and President Pro Tem Chris Seelbach.

All city council meetings, including committee meetings (Mondays and Tuesdays), are open to the public, though social distancing only allows for 20 in council chambers for the time being. Regular council meetings occur Wednesdays at 2 p.m., with 30 preceding minutes dedicated to public comment, when each person is allowed two minutes to voice their opinions. For those who can’t make it in person, Zoom was introduced to public comment earlier this year to include hunker-downers, and every public meeting is streamed on CitiCable (cincinnati-oh.gov/citicable). Seelbach says each voice message is heard, and every letter, e-mail, and comment on social media is read and taken into account. One way to really grab council’s attention? Organize with your local community council on an issue impacting your neighborhood. “I can think of two times in my eight-and-a-half years on council that city council has voted against the will of a community council,” Seelbach says. “When [they] take a position, it is very highly influential.”

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