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What's the 311?

Chris Landers / Mel Guapo

By Chris Landers | Posted 6/24/2009

The recent algae bloom in the Inner Harbor (and the subsequent smell) made us wonder--what else stinks in this city? Turns out that over the past two years there have been almost 4,000 complaints about mysterious and not-so-mysterious odors stinking up our fair city.

A lot of the calls were unspecific: Referring to a house in the 4200 block of Frederick Avenue last March, a 311 operator wrote that "the yard was suppose to clean and odor free but owner has completed any of the work by inspector yard has gotten worst." Other times they were a little scary (the same month a caller in the 800 block of Winston Avenue reported an "odor coming from about 20 black barrells may be toxic rear yard"). A lot of the calls, though, could be traced to a simple (or maybe not-so-simple) source. Here's what the operators wrote down recently:

4100 block of Norfolk Avenue, Feb. 3. "Caller found an alive mouse in her loaf of bread when she brought it home--owner reimbursed caller for bread--however there is a foul odor."

5700 block of Charlestowne Drive, Feb. 10. "WATER SMELLS FISHY--4 DAYS--FISHY AND BLEACHY--FISHY AND BLEACHY--4 DAYS"

3100 block of Chesterfield Avenue, Feb. 10. "CITIZEN HAS BEEN ADVISED BY BGE--THERE IS A TERRIBLE SEWER ISSUE IN THE HOUSE--WHICH PRODUCES A GAS ODOR--citizen states the landlord is not reponding to the problem--citizen unable to drink the water--citizen states her two small children has been affected by the sewer smell"

1100 block of Hollins Street, March 24. "The caller states this citizen burns incense outside of this location and the smell bad."

Disclaimer: What's the 311 is based on data from the Mayor's Office of Information Technology (This time ranging from May 2007 to May 2009). It has been folded, spindled, and mutilated along the way, and no attempt has been made to verify the accuracy of the calls. Fishy and bleachy. Fishy and Bleachy. Fishy and bleachy.

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