Seattle Public Utilities says it is working with two Capitol Hill clubs that have racked up big garbage charges after a program to remove dumpsters from Pike/Pine streets was rolled out this fall.
Ownership at Neumos and Chop Suey have complained about large bills, SPU says, after joining other area businesses in the change to three-times-a-day garbage, and twice-a-day recycling pickup using plastic bags in an effort to remove dumpsters from sidewalks and streets to make the neighborhood, officials hope, cleaner and safer.
For some, the program is also more expensive. Neumos co-owner Jason LaJeunesse has complained of what he says is a 255% jump in the club’s garbage bill under the new system which puts the 10th/Pike establishment on pace for more than $4,000 per month in trash and recycling pickup fees. “Have you guys heard any grumblings from business owners about the extreme financial hikes in the city mandated garbage program?” LaJuenesse asked in an email sent to media earlier this month. “Neumos is 35-40k a year more, when we were guaranteed it would be a 17% hike in cost.”
While SPU says Chop Suey has also complained of a big jump, other business owners around Pike/Pine CHS spoke with said the costs were high but in line with past charges.
Heather Staples, who along with her husband Scott, owns Quinn’s and Sole Repair, said their recent bill was in the “top of the range” of what the businesses have seen in the past. Staples said the cost of the bags was an issue. “We think the bulk of the charges relate to the cost of the bags,” she said. “It would be a help if there was a cheaper way to supply that.” The bags used to participate in the program cost $108.75 for a roll of 25 when purchasing five or more rolls. Staples also said the program seems to give the neighborhood’s big mixed-use apartment complexes a free pass as the buildings are still allowed to roll out dumpsters for 24 hours.
The city-mandated program to improve safety in Capitol Hill’s core restaurant and nightlife area by removing the big metal receptacles has resulted in around 75 trash and recycling dumpsters tossed by Capitol Hill businesses and another 36 dumpsters been pulled off streets and sidewalks and on to private property. The program is “pay as you throw” — pickup fees are paid by how many bags businesses purchase ahead of time. Trash bags were planned to cost more than recycling, which officials hoped would encourage more recycling. The origins of the program stem from a recommendation made by a LGBTQ safety task force last year, which built off an earlier study by the Capitol Hill EcoDistrict.
In response to the complaints from Neumos and Chop Suey, a statement from SPU said similar programs have been operating for years without cost issues in other neighborhoods. “It should be noted that every business in the City’s Clear Alleys Program (CAP) areas—the Downtown Core, Pioneer Square, Columbia City, and the International District—is paying similar costs,” the statement reads. “Those businesses include other big bars such as Crocodile, Trinity, Paramount, Showbox and Triple Door.”
SPU also points to the 60 or so other businesses in the Pike/Pine dumpster-free zone. “Other businesses have worked through various bag location and program management issues successfully,” SPU dryly notes.
A spokesperson for SPU said the agency will work with the big clubs to try to sort out their trash and recycling issues but they shouldn’t expect special treatment. “If we start making exceptions…” the spokesperson started to say before his voice trailed off leaving CHS to imagine the trashy chaos that could consume greater Seattle.
The spokesperson also said it seems likely the big issue at Neumos and Chop Suey might be their clientele — or, more specifically, what those people are drinking. Neumos and Chop Suey’s bags are overflowing with cans, the spokesperson said. Unlike glass which gets special bins for pickup in the service, the cans — especially those tall boys you are so partial to — are bulky and fill SPU’s bags quickly.
We suggest all parties contact the can man:
Part of can man's haul this morning. "Stay cool," can man says pic.twitter.com/OFiNmN255u
— jseattle (@jseattle) August 19, 2016