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Citizen complaint of the day: Part of Chestnut Hill is so in Boston

A vexed citizen files a 311 complaint about how his or her earlier 311 complaint about multiple unused traffic cones on Hackensack Road in the part of West Roxbury that uses the Chestnut Hill Zip code got marked "closed" because "Chestnut Hill is Newton:"

You are mistaken. ... I am in the Chestnut Hill Zip Code, but I pay Boston Real Estate Taxes. MY HOUSE IS IN BOSTON. I vote in Boston. Maybe you list my house in West Roxbury? It should not matter. The address is a BOSTON ADDRESS. Please re-open #101005279562 and resolve it.

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Comments

of three municipalities and three counties.

Boston (Suffolk)
Brookline (Norfolk)
Newton (Middlesex)

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Seems like a perfect place for a vortex or wormhole…

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If Newstead Montegrade and Cop Slide can be featured, so could the Roxline Newthole.

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I remember this one:

Collis Castanei est omnis divisa in municipia tres et comitatus tres.

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We should understand that not all 311 operators are from Boston or know the streets.

Not that long ago a family member called in a dead traffic light at Forest Hills Station (JP). When the 311 operator asked "where "again they stated "At Forest Hills." The operator replied that they were not in Boston because "Forest Hills" was not on their list of neighborhoods.

So for the long time townies that define by various landmarks, don't bother, it is likely that won't register with some of them.

Fair warned.

As for the zip code, yes, there are Newton zip codes being used for parts of Boston, in this case West Roxbury. That is because the assigned post office for Newton was closer and easier for mail to be delivered from there, rather than the West Roxbury postal station. They are in Boston and pay Boston taxes, but postal mail comes from Newton. That was a post office change, bit a city change.

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I live in the Newton part of Chestnut Hill. For years, Brookline sent my wife excise tax bills for her car. Took forever to straighten it out.

To cut the 311 person a break, it's legitimately confusing. Why put nonexistent towns in addresses anyway?

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The Chestnut Hill town name is just for bragging rights. It's the wealthier part of a wealthy town.

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It’s a holdover from the days before zip codes. In larger cities you would put the village or neighborhood name for your town, which would help route the mail to the correct post office.

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> Why put nonexistent towns in addresses anyway?

You get a lot of that around here: it's not unusual to see mail addressed to Allston, Brighton, Dorchester, or Charlestown. Which is to say, Boston, Boston, Boston, and Boston.

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> We should understand that not all 311 operators are from Boston or know the streets.

I wouldn't go so far as to assume that all 311 operators have ever set foot in Boston, or even the USA. Seems like a thing that would get outsourced to a private firm.

Of course, there is also a new technology that might help people personally unfamiliar with an area make informed geography-based decisions about that area: they call it a "map".

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When in doubt, look at what the manhole covers say. The one at that address clearly reads BOSTON SEWER.

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The people working at the desk pressing buttons on the keyboard and not answering the telephone because nobody can understand what they are saying are in charge.

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As with all ticket systems, it’s easy to get the incentives wrong, and if the organization decides to measure itself according to how many tickets it clears or how fast it clears tickets, as opposed to measuring itself on the quality of support it offers, you get stuff like this.

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"When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goodhart%27s_law

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Well, when the department motto is "just make it go away" . . .

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Ugh, zip codes.

Zip codes are merely based on postal delivery routes. They should not be used as shorthand for state, county, city, or neighborhood because while they often match up, they don't always.

Another good example is Comm Ave in the vicinity of BU. The Brookline town line is the south edge of the sidewalk all around there, so buildings on the south side of the street are in Brookline -- but use the 02215 zip code instead of 02246 because it's easier to use the Fenway-based postal routes than the Coolidge Corner ones.

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The facade of those Comm Ave buildings is in Boston. They don't just use the Boston ZIP, they pay Boston property taxes on the sliver of their building in Boston. Thing is, that sliver is where the front door is, hence Boston addresses.

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cry me a river

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The level of constituent service from 311 is horrendous. Gone are the days when you could call the Mayor's hotline and get some service. Clown act.

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311 is the Mayor's Hotline with a different name. 311 is just a call center. The call center/app/web page all integrate with a system that collects tickets from the public (i.e. a call to 311 or a service request on the app). The responsibility for handling the tickets lies with city departments and the cases are routed to departments based on the type of ticket.

So if the case was closed for not being in the City, chances are it was because someone in the responsible department looked at it and said "not Boston."

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How about get rid of the Chestnut Hill name and call these locations by their proper town name.

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It's mostly a post office issue. Take it up with them.

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A small part of the 02467 Zip Code is in Brighton, near and just south of Boston College and the Chestnut Hill Reservoir. This includes some condos and houses, and the Waterworks Museum, on the south side of Beacon Street.

The U. S. Post Office Department began using zones in large metropolitan areas long before the Zip Code existed. The Chestnut Hill post office was probably established in the late 1800s, centered around the commuter rail station of the same name (today's Riverside Line station). When zones were created, it became Chestnut Hill 67, Mass. With creation of Zip Codes in 1963, it became Chestnut Hill MA 02167; then in 1998 it changed to 02467.

Until 1998 there were also many addresses in Brighton, south of Commonwealth Ave., that had Brookline 02146 Zip Codes, and many of them also had Brookline phone numbers. But the buildings were in Boston, sometimes blocks from the city line.

This website has an interesting history of Boston Zip Codes:
https://blog.evankalish.com/2011/03/blast-from-past-boston-edition.html

Be sure to go to the extensive comments by MCT at the end of the post.

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love this thread :) When I lived in Brighton in 02146 in 1991-93, my car insurance thought I was in Brookline (lower rate) and my parking sticker was for Boston. I have vague recollections of getting my registration updated every year to change the city name and then changing it back again to fit the situation, which is nothing I'd have the energy to do any longer... but I was in my 20s and there was no Internet then :-D

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When I moved into my current apartment in Brighton, I had a very hard time getting National Grid to set up our account: I would call and give them the address and the employees couldn't find it in their system. The fourth time I called, I got someone who thought that it might be listed in Bookline, and set up an account.

We are two or three blocks from the Brighton/Brookline border. But nobody at National Grid can fix that entry, which has been wrong since this building was built, in 1940.

National Grid is supposed to come inspect something here in a couple of weeks. The letter arranging it was addressed to "Brookline, MA" even though the monthly bill says "Brighton."

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..are why I love UHub. Thanks for the info and the link, Charles!!

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My grandfather lived in an rent controlled apartment on Beacon Street near Cleveland Circle. Half of his apartment was Brookline and half of his apartment was Brighton. He voted in Boston but he had to move his car 4 times a day because of Brookline.

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Seems possible. I'm guessing around Strathmore Road? He got the short end of the stick though. Better to vote in Brookline but get to park on the street overnight in Boston.

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Oh, you live in 02467 Boston, cool. Write down Boston, not Chestnut Hill.
Oh, you live in 02467 Brookline, cool. Write down Brookline, not Chestnut Hill.
Oh, you live in 02467 Newton, cool. Write down Newton, not Chestnut Hill.

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