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Public Works
 | Frequently Asked Questions

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Questions and Answers

In order to efficiently respond to your immediate concerns, we have provided answers to the most frequently asked questions. 




Q: There is a depression in the street in front of my residence that holds standing water. The water is stagnant and smells. How can I fix this problem?

A:  Depending on the severity of the problem, in most cases if  the curb and gutter are sunken and do hold water, it may be a problem that spans the length of your street. In order to correct the problem, major work will need to be done on the whole street. If we fix one location, the standing water will just move to the next house. Due to the pervasiveness of problems throughout the City's 550 miles of sidewalks, curbs and gutters, we prioritize repairs based on the amount of damage incurred. We do keep a record of service requests and use this information in planning our activities on a twelve month schedule.  The Street Maintenance Division focuses on smaller maintenance activities. A suggestion would be for residents to sweep the water out of the depression to eliminate the chance of the water becoming stagnant.

Q: Is the Public Works Department in charge of fixing the broken street light in my neighborhood?

A: The street lights in the City of Torrance are owned and maintained by Southern California Edison. If the street lights in your neighborhood are not working correctly, call Southern California Edison at 1-800-611-1911, or click here to go to the Edison form, and be prepared to provide the following information:
  • Location of street light address, or close cross street 
  • Type of pole: wood, cement, or metal
  • Color of light bulb: white or amber
  • What is the problem with the light?
  • Pole Number

Q: During blackouts, traffic signals often become inoperative. I've noticed other motorists making rolling stops; or, they "coast" and rarely yield to the "right-of-way" drivers.  What is the rule of thumb in crossing dark intersections safely?

A: If you come upon a dark intersection, treat is as you would a stop sign. California's Vehicle Code Section 21800d states "The driver of any vehicle approaching an intersection which has official traffic control signals that are inoperative shall make a complete stop at the intersection, and proceed with caution when it's safe to do so." 

Q: I have a Torrance address, but I was told the City of Torrance doesn't pick up my trash or sweep the street. Who services my area?

A: Although the Public Works Department for the City of Torrance covers a wide area starting at Western Avenue and going west, many Torrance addresses are serviced by the City or County of Los Angeles depending on your street address. A general rule of thumb is to note the agency that responds to your police or fire calls in your area. For example, if the LA County Sheriff responds to calls in your area, then your refuse is serviced by the County of L.A. If your calls are responded to by LAPD, the City of Los Angeles services your collection. To contact Los Angeles City or County, please call:
1-213-485-2121 (City of Los Angeles) or click here to go to L.A. City website .
1-213-974-1234 (County of Los Angeles) or click here to go to L.A. County website .

Q: Is our trash still picked up if a holiday falls on our scheduled day?

A: Rubbish will be collected a day late whenever there is a City-recognized holiday in the week.  If a holiday falls on a Wednesday, Monday and Tuesday schedules will stay the same; however, Wednesday's and Thursday's trash will be picked up a day late.  Click here to go to the holiday schedule.

Q: What happens with street sweeping because of a holiday?

A: Because of the many posted areas, street sweeping remains on regular schedule.  The sweeping area that falls on the actual holiday will be skipped that week.

Q: I was told by my plumber that my plumbing is backed up because the lateral line to the sewer was damaged by roots from a City tree. Can you remove the tree?

A:  The Streetscape Division does not remove City trees for sewer problems and removing the tree will not solve the problem. Once a line is broken, roots or soil from any source can enter. City policy states that the homeowner is responsible for the maintenance and repair of the lateral line, which is the line that runs from the house to where it hooks up to the City main sewer line. If you are having problems with the lateral it could mean that the line is broken or separated at a joint in the line. An inspection procedure will verify if roots are the cause and, if in fact, the tree is City-owned.

Q: Will the City of Torrance pay for the damage caused to the lateral line?

A: The City will pay for damage to the lateral line only when the line has been exposed, inspected, and, when it has been verified by a Streetscape Supervisor that the damage was caused by a City owned tree and not from roots from a tree or vegetation in your yard, your neighbors' yard, or from trees that may have been removed over five years in the past.  Click here for more information on lateral lines damaged by City tree roots.  NOTE: If you would like to file a claim for sewer lateral line damage, you may file through the City Clerk's Office or pick up a form from the Risk Management Division in the City Personnel building at 3231 Torrance Blvd.

Q: When is the City going to repave or fix the curbs and gutters on my street?

A: The City's capital budget includes projects to repair streets, sidewalks, curbs & gutters. Funding for these projects is limited and streets compete for funding Citywide. We typically repave three to five miles each year.


Water Services FAQs

Q. Where does the City's water come from?

A. The City receives its water from multiple sources including the Colorado River, Northern California, the Metropolitan Water District (MWD) and local sources ground water. Torrance is continually seeking to diversify its water sources.

Q.  Is the City's water safe to drink?

A. The City adheres to the California Department of Health Services regulations. This means the City regularly tests its water to make sure the water is safe for drinking.

Q.  Is there fluoride in the City's water?

A. There is naturally occurring fluoride in water.  Beginning in late November, 2007, our primary water supplier, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD), started adding supplemental fluoride to reach the optimum level of 0.8 parts per million (ppm) for preventing tooth decay.  Currently, the MWD furnishes approximately 85% of municipal drinking water supplies.  Click here for a .pdf fact sheet on water fluoridation.

Q. Do I need to boil my water?

A. Unless instructed by your doctor, or if you have a weak immune system, you do not need to boil your drinking water.  There may be rare instances when the City or the Health Department will require you to boil your drinking water.

Q. Whom do I contact if I have a problem or need information about my drinking water?

A.  For questions or concerns, please contact the City's Customer Service Center toll-free at 1-855-354-5623 during City Hall's regular business hours, 7:30 - 5:30 Monday through Friday.  They are even open on the City Hall closed Fridays.