Help with new Complaint Filing System

Baltimore County provides two different online systems for filing complaints: Accela and CitySourced. Each provides a capability to enter complaints as well as to query the status, but they vary significantly. In effect, the CitySourced system provides a more user friendly interface for entry and serves as a front-end to the Accela System. Complaints entered via CitySourced are assigned a numeric "tracking number" (e.g., 12357) and the data is then transferred to the Accela system where a Code Enforcement case number (e.g., CC1812345) is assigned.

Jump to Accela instructions (to search)

Instructions for web form using CitySourced system (to file complaint)

Link: Request Service or Report a Problem (Opens in new window so you can keep this one opened for guidance.)

1. Choose a Report Type

This form is fairly straight-forward. First you select the category and subcategory of complaint. Here is a complete list, all on one page, of the categories and subcategories provided by the pull-down menues. Unfortunately, it does not include commonly used categories:

This page also provides links or phone numbers for reporting other issues.

  • Budget and Finance
    • Bids, disbursements and vendors *
    • Parking, red light and speed camera violations *
    • Personal injury and property claims *
    • Property taxes *
    • Other budget and finance problems *
  • Building and Development
    • Building without a permit **
    • Electrical work without a permit
    • Grading work without a permit
    • Plumbing work without a permit
  • Neighborhood Issues
    • Excessive animal feces in neighbor's yard **
    • Inoperable vehicle on private property **
    • Junk, trash or debris on private property **
    • Neighbor's trash can without lid **
    • Poor living conditions in a rental home **
    • Rats **
    • Tall grass and weeds in yard **
    • Other code complaint **
  • Pets and Animal Issues
    • Animal bite **
    • Animal confined **
    • Animal shows signs of rabies **
    • Dangerous or menacing animal **
    • Dead animal pickup **
    • Excessive barking **
    • Pet out of yard or roaming **
    • Pet waste was left in my yard **
    • Sick or injured animal **
    • Stray pet found and needs pickup **
    • Wildlife complaint **
    • Other animal complaint **
  • Roads and Sidewalk Issues
    • Driveway blocked by plowed snow *
    • Icy conditions *
    • Property damaged by county *
    • Unplowed road *
    • Fallen tree or limb *
    • Flooded road *
    • Overgrown trees, bushes or grass near roadway *
    • Paving or re-paving needed *
    • Pothole *
    • Sidewalk or curb repair needed *
    • Street cleaning needed *
    • Trash on roadway *
    • Other road or sidewalk complaint *
  • Trash and Recycling Issues
    • Can or lid lost or damaged *
    • Property damage during collection *
    • Recycling not collected *
    • Request to start new collection *
    • Trash not collected *
    • Yard waste not collected *
    • Other trash and recycling problem *
  • Unregistered Rental Property Issues
    • Unregistered Rental Property **
  • Website Issues
    • Broken link *
    • Typo/Misspelling *
    • Out of date information *
    • Technical error message *
    • Other website problem *
  • Other Problem
    • General *

 *  choices that require entry of your name, e-mail, and phone number.
** choices that require entry of your name, address, e-mail, and phone number.

2. Location

The location can be entered in one of two ways:

  • Pick spot on map - you can zoom in to a specific property (although property lines are not being displayed so this is not accurate). If you intentionally pick the middle of an intersection (like for an illegal "snipe" sign or flooded road, the system arbitrarily picks a nearby address. While this may be fine to get the inspector to the right place, if they then look for the violation or issue, it sometimes does not work and, if it does, further actions (citations, etc.) are likely to be recorded against that address, which has nothing to do with the violation.
  • Enter "nearest street address". Sometimes the system can't find an address that is a real one, so you have to use the map.

3. Your contact information

Remember that anything you enter is available to anyone. Although it says "we require some basic contact info ..." it seems that you can enter in bogus info and the complaint will still be handled. I enter in a real email so I can get status updates, but one that cannot be traced to me.

After you have reported a problem or issue, the system replies with 2 e-mails, but they do not return a tracking number, which is needed to do a look-up. Instead, they contain a case number. Unfortunately, that e-mail does not identify which issues it was (in case you filed multiple). Check each case number using the method described below to find which address or issue it was for.

Instructions for looking up the status of an issue on the CitySourced system

This is impossible to use, as the process to file a complaint does not return the Tracking Number that is required to use this function.

Link: Follow-up on Issue

Simply enter tracking number, which you should have received via e-mail (but didn't). (Not a case number like CC1812345.)

Although the form says that your e-mail address as "required", it is unknown why, since this seems to work without it.

Unfortunately, this does not return information about the complaint - the description entered - so you can only guess what it is about if someone else opened the case. It generally only shows that it has been accepted, the category and subcategory, and if it has been tranferred to the Accela system (with case number). This system does not provide any means to search by address. You must use the Accela system for that.

Instructions for Accela Self Service Portal (to file conplaint)

This portion of the Citizen's Access system was removed the evening of October 26, 2018, just one more step in this administration's attempt to inhibit citizens from access to government information and services.

You should see a page like this: (instruction/hints on the right)

If you had previously signed-in and set your browser to remember you, the User Name and Password fields might be pre-filed in. The following presumes that you are logging in.

I am investigating what happens if you do not sign-in (maybe out of concern for privacy). It seems to result in strange errors that suggest that the County system is trying to read the MAC address of your computer (a privacy issue).

After logging in, the following page is returned:

If "Code Complaint" is not showing as a tab, click on "more" and "Code Complaint" at the top.

I'm still investigating the use of "shopping cart" and "collections". Sounds interesting.

The next screen asks you to accept the terms and "Continue Application".

You should then see the following: (instructions/hints on the right)

At this point, the use of this form is a little ambiguous. The layout is not very good.

The "Search" field is useless! If a word like "building" is entered into the "Search" field, it simply filters the following list of categories so that it only displays those choices with the word "building" in them (which can easily be seen without the "serach").

  • If you click on "Submit a Complaint", accept, and "Continue Application", you get a redisplay of the same page.
  • If you click on "Search Complaints", you get a form to enter an address (or address range) or a Case Number. Entering either an address or a case number and "Search" brings up a display of either all cases for that address or the one case requested. When you select a specific case and display it, click on "Record Info" and select "Processing Status" to see list of actions, or "Attachments" to see copies of correction notices, citations, hearing results, lien letters, and (hopefully soon) photos taken by the inspector. (These photos were previously there but removed for some strange reason.) See at bottom for instructions.
  • If you click on the "Constituent Complaint" radio button and then "Continue", the complaint entry form comes up as follows:

Note here that a valid address entered sometimes cannot be found and vacant lots don't have addresses. (Another bug in the County's system.)

One alternative is to look up the address or parcel on MyNeighborhood or SDAT, find the tax ID number, and enter that into the "Parcel" section of the form here.

Although the form states that "You must include your name, phone number, and email address to file a complaint", it seems that one can enter bogus info and it will still be dealt with. But they already have the info if you logged-in.

Instead of clicking on "Select from Account", one can select "Add New" and enter other info. I use "Any Person", "410-555-1212", and an e-mail that comes to me but can't be identified.

I find this requirement to enter your identifying information particularly bothersome. Remember that any information you give to the County can be obtained by anyone. Since Jan 2017, the CE inspectors themselves are identified only by badge number in citations and at hearings, due to a fear of being harrassed, while citizens are expected to expose themselves to retribution.

Instructions/hints for Accela Self Service Portal (to search for complaint)

Link: Accela - search

You should see a page like this: (instruction/hints on the right)

The use of this form does not require that you log in.

You can enter:
A single address
A range of addresses
Just the ZIP code
Case number (eg, CC1812345)

(The street type and ZIP Code are not needed if you enter an address.)

The page displaying the data for a single case looks like this:

It is unknown what the pull-down menu for "Custom Component" is for.

Pull down menu for "Record Info" provides:
Application details - address, complaint description - This is default 1st page.
Processing Status - dates of submission, inspections, final action - actually rather useless.
Attachments - copies of correction notices, citations, hearing results, liens. (Photos taken by inspectors used to be here. They were removed after I referred to them in a complaint about the inspector's mishandling of cases.)

Updated Dec 7, 2018