HAYWARD — Whether your beef is with the graffiti on the public sidewalk or the abandoned jalopy in your neighbor's front yard, Hayward wants to know.

All you have to do, as of this week, is visit a new Web site and send a quick e-mail to City Hall.

"People have been making it clear that they find the graffiti hot line pretty unfriendly from a user standpoint," Mayor Mike Sweeney said of a long-standing phone-based system for registering complaints. "This makes it easier for folks to get information to us."

It's not that residents couldn't e-mail complaints before. But the new service, which can be found at http://www.hayward-ca.gov, is highly visible on the city's online home page and features a drop-down menu that sorts complaints by type and figures out where to send them.

In contrast, the city's most recent approach to accepting complaints was to offer about 15 different phone numbers that all go to different departments, depending on what the problem is about.

With the new Web site, residents can swiftly lodge complaints about abandoned vehicles and shopping carts, graffiti, potholes, sidewalks needing repair, problem signs and banners, street light outage, trash and junk, tree problems, weeds and overgrown landscaping.

The e-mail is pre-addressed to the department that handles the complaint. Residents can expect a response from city staffers confirming that the complaint was received and, assuming the request is reasonable, that they are trying to do something about it.

"I think it's a step forward, but it's one step in a longer process to improve how our community looks," Sweeney said.

The new feature is associated with the Keep Hayward Clean and Green Task Force, a newly formed 30-member citizen committee that has been tasked to get Haywardites working together to fix up how the city's appearance. The task force will have its first meeting on

Feb. 22.

As the budget season approaches, Sweeney said he also wants to look at increasing the number of police officers, as well as city workers whose job it is to improve and maintain the city's appearance.

Matt O'Brien can be reached at (510) 293-2473 or mattobrien@dailyreviewonline.com.