Post navigation

Prev: (10/24/16) | Next: (10/24/16)

100 dumpsters pulled off Capitol Hill’s streets and sidewalks

Hot Trash

Businesses participating in the bag pick up program. (Image: SPU)

Approximate locations of dumpsters before the bag program began. (Image: SPU)

Around 75 trash and recycling dumpsters have been tossed by Capitol Hill businesses for high-frequency bag pick ups starting last week. Another 36 dumpsters have been pulled off streets and sidewalks and on to private property.

It’s part of a city-mandated program to improve safety in Capitol Hill’s core restaurant and nightlife area by moving the large metal containers out of the public right-of-way.

Half of the businesses in the corridor — roughly bound by Melrose, E John, E Union, and 15th — were able to keep their dumpsters by storing them on private property. Some of those businesses may still be dragging dumpsters into the street for pickup, but Seattle Public Utilities officials say they should not be out for long and certainly not over night.

(Image: CHS)

(Image: CHS)

“It’s definitely going to make the neighborhood look and feel a lot cleaner,” said SPU spokesperson Becca Fong.

The program is “pay as you throw” — pickup fees are paid by how many bags businesses purchase ahead of time. Trash bags cost more than recycling, which officials hope will encourage more recycling. Compost will stay in bins with frequent pickup and broken down cardboard will be picked up free of charge. Bars and other businesses that need to recycle large amounts of glass will be given bins for regular pickup.

The origins of the program stem from an unlikely source — a recommendation made by Mayor Ed Murray’s LGBTQ safety task force last year, which built off an earlier study by the Capitol Hill EcoDistrict.

A similar program in Belltown called Clean Alleys has largely been seen as a success, though not everyone on Capitol Hill is on board. The bag program operated by Recology CleanScapes costs about 15% more than dumpsters and will bring more trucks into the neighborhood.

Restaurant owner Dave Meinert said in a recent Facebook post the city was not being consistent in its priorities.

Plastic to go bags are banned from restaurants for environmental reasons (a good thing) but now the City wants restaurants to use thick plastic garbage bags instead of dumpsters, which will get picked up 3 times as often, meaning MORE plastic bags and 3x as many garbage truck trips adding to traffic and exhaust problems. Irony?

While the mostly alley-less neighborhood has long dealt with dumpsters in plain view, the issue has been exacerbated in recent years by Capitol Hill’s explosion of construction and new residents. For instance, the dumpsters that accumulated at 11th and Pike had been dispersed across a larger area before three construction sites ate up the space.

After a month of the bag pick up program, SPU officials will be meeting with be taking feedback from business owners. Ideally it will go over better than the official name of the new effort, the Pike/Pine Retail Corridor Solid Waste Site Review Program.

Subscribe and support CHS Contributors -- $1/$5/$10 per month

14 thoughts on “100 dumpsters pulled off Capitol Hill’s streets and sidewalks

    • I know, right? Those dumpsters were awesome, and so much better than a mild noise inconvenience in an already noisy dense urban environment. But they can go further; why not just let garbage pile up. Disease, rats, the smell… that’s so much better than a mild noise inconvenience in an already noisy dense urban environment.

    • Are you spelling “Privilege” incorrectly as “Privelege” for some reason?

  1. In Charleston, SC, much of the downtown touristy area doesn’t have room for dumpsters, so they did the same thing with bags. I imagine it worked okay, but the drawbacks were businesses that closed early at 5 or so had their trash out there for the entirety of the evening – just as bad as the dumpsters or trash cans would have been.

    • Yeah, on a similar but different point, it says businesses shouldn’t leave out dumpsters (nothing about bags) for long, especially overnight. So, late night businesses would have to come in early to take out the trash?

  2. I’m really happy the city is doing something about it. The dumpsters were a total mess — always overflowing, getting picked at by people and birds, and incredibly noisy when picked up by the garbage and recycling trucks (imagine a metal dumpster full of beer bottles lifted up 15 feet in the air, tilted and poured into a recycling truck and you get the idea). Thank you!

  3. It’s about time the City cracked down on this problem. For a very long time, businesses have usurped public space to store their dumpsters, and have refused to mitigate the frequent overflow through such measures as the use of locks or increased frequency of pickups. Now they will have to be more responsible, for the good of the neighborhood.

  4. Is there a way to report businesses who leave dumpsters out for too long if they are outside of the Ecodistrict? The Gatsby apartments leave their disgusting, stinking, dripping garbage dumpsters right in the bloody street for days at a time on Highland, just west of 10th Ave E.

    • You can also use Seattle’s official “Find it, Fix it” app (available for Android or IOs).

      I’ve been trying to get DPD to remove an illegal dumpster at 14th & Pine. DPD agreed that it’s illegal, but they’ve been really slow at enforcement. They seem to be asking the business, “pretty please, could you move your dumpster onto your own private lot?” (That lot has tons of available space.)

  5. Didn’t the in Belltown Clean Alleys program lead to a spike in the rat population? I remember working at a coffee shop in the Clean Alleys program area how gross it was to take the trash out thanks to all the rats waiting out in the alley.

  6. Brand new buildings adding 8-10 dumpsters, leaving them in parking spaces and load zones. AND Dragging them down the sidewalk on E Pike street behind a motorized cart, ignoring the pedestrians. DPD doesn’t insist on a dumpster plan for a 7 story building containing over 200 apartments??? This city is so bad at planning or implementing anything that would help but is sure good at messing things up!! (Yes, Avalon, I AM talking about you!)