Followup: Every-other-week garbage pickup? Briefing @ Admiral Neighborhood Association

January 15, 2014 at 11:29 am | In Utilities, West Seattle news | 45 Comments

Turns out last night’s Admiral Neighborhood Association briefing on the every-other-week garbage-pickup proposal was the only one on Seattle Public Utilities‘ schedule – because they’re the only group who asked for a briefing. So if you weren’t there, you missed your chance to ask questions – though SPU does have a wider-scope meeting next month in West Seattle; more on that shortly. Last night, ANA heard from SPU’s Brett Stav:

He recapped the pilot project in 2012 in four parts of the city, including a section of Highland Park. The full report on that can be read online via a link here; toplines were also part of his slide deck presented last night – see it in its entirety:

Seattle Public Utilities' every-other-week trash-pickup briefing at Admiral Neighborhood Association


Most of the questions Stav was asked centered on whether the project truly saves money – the city contends it could save up to $6 million a year. A concern brought up multiple times in WSB comments was voiced by ANA past president Katy Walum – the effect on people with small children who have diapers to dispose of. (That, as noted in the slide deck, aligns with some of the results from the pilot project – “higher satisfaction” with the every-other-week pickup was reported by homes with no diaper usage.) Current president David Whiting wondered what’s in it for people who are already working to reduce their trash.

The final decision is up to the City Council, which already took one action potentially paving the way, including a commitment to making a decision by this March, on whether to go citywide with every-other-week pickups starting a year after that. Two advisory committees already have reviewed the proposal; SPU says the Solid Waste Advisory Committee recommended doing it; its Customer Panel did not. Before going to the full council, it would likely go to the council’s Seattle Public Utilities and Neighborhoods Committee, chaired by Councilmember Sally Bagshaw. (Opinions? E-mail council@seattle.gov)

Now, that February meeting. 6 pm February 13th, SPU will be at High Point Community Center (6920 34th SW). It’s about SPU’s “Strategic Business Plan,” regarding the future of the services the department provides – garbage, recycling, water, sewer, drainage. You don’t even have to wait for the meeting to have a say – here’s an online survey you can take right now.

45 Comments

  1. I am interested in the cost savings to residents with bi-monthly trash pickup. From what I can tell, with my 32 gal. trashcan I would only save about $3 per pickup?? Also saw a figure of 11% savings per month?? We get a 50% reduction in service but minimal cost savings from what I can gather.

    Comment by Gary — 12:08 pm January 15, 2014 #

  2. I think there might be a slide missing? The one that says my garbage bill decreases by 50%? Could someone from SPU please find and fix that?

    Comment by SomeGuy — 12:18 pm January 15, 2014 #

  3. fill out the on-line survey..
    you get a chance to put a dollar value on going to every other week garbage pickup.
    i gave it 0
    you also get to put a dollar value on what matters to you…

    Comment by JoB — 1:13 pm January 15, 2014 #

  4. Does this mean I only have to pay on every other billing cycle?

    Comment by Wendell — 1:17 pm January 15, 2014 #

  5. Thinking I’ll have to give up my micro can and go back to full sized one. Wonder if I’ll end up paying more for less service?

    Comment by Franci — 1:54 pm January 15, 2014 #

  6. Gary and SomeGuy – are you going to reduce your garbage contribution 50%? If not, then you will be getting almost as much service as before, just not as quickly.

    I think they should charge you more, as you have a 50% reduction in dragging your trashcans out and back.

    W Seattle whining never ends

    Comment by WS Fan — 2:02 pm January 15, 2014 #

  7. Why is questioning or even disagreeing considered whining? I think many have valid reasons for not liking this idea-or for questioning value.
    Everyone has & is entitled to their opinion. We should always just go along with everything the city/county/state proposes?
    We have a voice-we should be able to use it without being labeled whiners.

    Comment by Gene — 2:22 pm January 15, 2014 #

  8. WS Fan – I’m a little confused by your comment “you will be getting almost as much service as before, just not as quickly”. 34 gallon can 1 per week = 34 gallons. 34 gallon can every other week = 17 gallons. So unless they are cutting the price in half, we are paying more per gallon to have our garbage picked up.

    Comment by PG — 2:46 pm January 15, 2014 #

  9. PG – I always thought I was paying to get my garbage hauled away – not for noisy visits by smelly trucks.

    As such, what matters most is how much garbage is efficiently carted off. I don’t know anyone who routinely fills their trashcan, and those that do probably aren’t recycling very well. Now they might finally do so at ZERO cost. If this isn’t generally the case, then I doubt they would propose what they have.

    I have the smallest canister and put it out every 2 to three weeks. This change is nothing but positive for me, including not having to haul trash every week to and from the curb.

    Yes, some will pay more – probably the same who have been benefiting from my ( and those like me ) subsidy.

    Comment by WS Fan — 3:19 pm January 15, 2014 #

  10. I second what Gene and PG said. I’d also be interested to know how much money this is saving the city, what percentage of that savings is being passed along to us in the form of garbage rate reductions, and where the rest of the savings is going.

    Comment by s — 3:21 pm January 15, 2014 #

  11. As noted in the story, the city believes it’ll save up to $6 million a year. The proposed rates have not been announced. – TR

    Comment by WSB — 3:22 pm January 15, 2014 #

  12. Gene – to me, a “whiner’s” comments add no value and often just poison the well. They generally exaggerate the negatives, ignore the positives and make no contribution to solving the problem.

    I hope I answered your questions.

    Comment by WS Fan — 3:36 pm January 15, 2014 #

  13. WSFan…they have an opinion…my opinion is that you’re whining about your neighbors…and putting yourself way above those who you say you”subsidize”. Are you single? Married? Have 1 child? Three? None? We , and our households are all different. Bully for you and your footprint. So, you’re a fan of the area, just not the people in it?

    Comment by JanS — 4:04 pm January 15, 2014 #

  14. my concern lies with the following
    1) Will I see the appropriate reduction in my monthly service to coincide with a 50% reduction in pick up. Early read is No.
    2) Sanitary concerns – even in the neighborhoods there is significant rat and raccoon populations that are drawn by garbage – extending to every other week will create longer-standing piles of garbage for these rodents to use to “set-up camp” around.
    3) Holidays – could we negotiate extra holiday pick-ups for all the ones we’re giving up?

    Comment by WS Taxpayer — 4:12 pm January 15, 2014 #

  15. Just leave the garbage pickup the way it is.

    There will just be more baggies of dog crap left on the sidewalks if they change garbage pickup to every other week. Whole lot of sucky doggie owners running/walking around West Seattle…just casually dropping their little baggies of dog funk on the sidewalks…

    Oh, oh. WS Fan is gonna nail me for whining. ROFL

    Comment by Genesee Hill — 4:12 pm January 15, 2014 #

  16. WS Fan, We have the full sized can and we fill it up every week. In addition to that we have requested a second recycling bin because one isn’t enough. Granted we have two small kids so there are a lot of diapers we’ll have to get a bigger can for sure.
    Also, I wasn’t pleased to see that of the displeased saw a 62% increase in rodent/pest sightings. Rats are already a huge problem in this city and the raccoon and coyote population in W. Seattle isn’t going to go down with this measure. I’m just going to have to clean up my knocked over cans more often.

    Comment by DRS — 4:42 pm January 15, 2014 #

  17. Forcing people to be more efficient with their garbage will work just as well as forcing people to ride public transportation.

    It won’t work, folks.

    Comment by Smitty — 4:49 pm January 15, 2014 #

  18. We have a family of three. We use 1 micro can a week. It is stuffed full. We recycle, use compost. We will have to move to a bigger can, So we will be paying more in this utility. Trying to save some money in utilities in Seattle is difficult.

    Comment by Robert — 4:58 pm January 15, 2014 #

  19. I too would like to see a reduction in fees for the reduction in service. at least enough of a reduction so that, if I have to go from the micro can to the larger can because of the change, my price isn’t going to go up from what it is now.

    WSFan- you are pretty confident that you can co along with the reduction in service, but do you think your neighbors will handle it? like others have mentioned, I’d be concerned about the rodent problem. I don’t police my neighbors’ garbage, maybe they don’t compost everything.

    it looks like compost bins would still be picked up every week, so at least there’s that.

    (do rodents go after dog poop in bags?)

    Comment by sam-c — 5:08 pm January 15, 2014 #

  20. Thanks for the link to the survey! Glad a place to capture feedback that wasn’t in a select-a-number sort of fashion. I would love a pay-as-you-use system for all utilities!

    Comment by K — 5:11 pm January 15, 2014 #

  21. One of the “top reasons for being satisfied” was that 73% of people did not experience rats or other pests. That means that 27% of people DID experience rats or other pests…that is a pretty high number.

    Comment by s — 5:16 pm January 15, 2014 #

  22. They admit some people rated the program “satisfactory” because they got the $100!
    .
    If they didn’t account for the fact everyone was given $100 to participate, the survey is a sham.

    Comment by JoAnne — 5:29 pm January 15, 2014 #

  23. How many garbage workers will be laid off because of this? I’d rather keep the service as it is, keep those folks employed, and avoid the hit to the local economy.
    They should just raise the rates if they need to instead of reducing service and eliminating jobs – assuming that’s the upshot of this.

    WS Fan, you’re not subsidizing anyone by not putting out your can – it doesn’t work like that. You are paying for garbage service which includes hauling it away (which requires a truck to come by whether you put the can out or not) as well as the storage and transportation of that garbage from your home to a transfer station and ultimately to a land fill.
    In fact, because I pay for a larger can, I’m actually subsidizing you. (here, lemme just help you down off that horse)
    Our garbage rates are lower than anywhere else I know of – certainly far lower than Portland.
    Basic logic that a rate hike, and not a service decline, would be the most beneficial solution for our area.

    Comment by zark — 5:33 pm January 15, 2014 #

  24. It would be OK if they would provide 2X the capacity for the same price. As others have said, 50% of the service for the same price doesn’t cut it. It isn’t like my garbage will “magically” disappear with a 2 week pickup. I’ll just have 2X the trash on the next pickup or did they not think I already recycle and compost?

    Comment by Eric1 — 5:42 pm January 15, 2014 #

  25. I agree with WS Taxpayer!!
    To WS fan: there are only 2 adults in our house, we have the largest recycling that is overflowing every pick up and a 32 gal garbage can that is almost alway full as well. It has nothing to do with not recycling very well, it is simply we live life & have pets.

    I am not a fan of this idea even if my cost went down. Would we get two cans?? So now I would need to store 2 or do we get to just deal with the rats & raccoons? Ugh I hope they leave it as is!!

    Comment by HF — 5:44 pm January 15, 2014 #

  26. Our household has two adults and three kids. We have the largest garbage container. That sucker is full every week – in fact I usually have to climb in and stomp it down to get the last bag in. And our recycling container is the same way. And we do put a lot of scraps down the garbage disposal too. I suppose we could get a burn barrel set up in the yard…

    Comment by SomeGuy — 6:06 pm January 15, 2014 #

  27. What a dumb idea. Of course, I’m not surprised because Seattle is full of dumb ideas. We are a family of 4 and our trash can is full every week. We also fill our recycle bins. We found a dead rat in our backyard a week ago. No thanks. This is a no go.

    Comment by A — 8:22 pm January 15, 2014 #

  28. West Seattle is Seattle’s trailer park? Baby owners: buy just 5-10 reusable diapers. That will cut down on your oft unimaginable landfill contributions. It’s not that bad! Well, sometimes it is but live with it. At least try it. I saw the trash truck this morning causing a CAR backup on Delridge! Eliminate this inhuman outrage every other week? Yes to that. Anyway, the real cost in those utility bills is the water outflow. Dig a secret latrine and reap the benefits.

    Comment by John — 8:38 pm January 15, 2014 #

  29. We were part if the test group in Highland Park. At the time we didn’t have diapers, so it wasn’t too bad for two adults and one toddler. However, our street was a mess. Crows and other pests dragged the trash around; people would forget which week was pickup, so they’d put the cans out, it wouldn’t get picked up, and they’d just leave the cans out till the next week. And though we got $100 for being in the group, the reduction in service saved us three measly dollars on our bill. It wasn’t a good thing.

    Comment by AJP — 8:40 pm January 15, 2014 #

  30. Prices need to be adjusted for the city of seattle garbage pick-up contract so we will pay the same price for the same amount of trash being picked up. At first I didn’t like the idea at all, but after mulling it over, it wouldn’t be too bad, as long as they picked up yardwaste once a week still, and made the prices the same per month as families are paying currently. That is the can that smells (and fills up quickly with grass clippings). If you have a diapered child, regular garbage would be stinky too. We are a family of four and we use the smallest garbage can, I guess it’d be a problem for a family that fills up a large garbage can each week, but maybe they could recycle more/use a yardwaste bin, It is really annoying to see the yardwaste truck, the garbage truck and every other week, the recycling truck all go down each street twice (once in each direction) AND alley, stopping every 15 feet to pick up . I’ve thought that the drivers should only go down the street in one direction and pick up from both sides to save driving time/gas, and requiring all streetside pickup would help too… I’ll fill out the survey.

    Comment by ttt — 8:43 pm January 15, 2014 #

  31. I’m in a condo building, and we have everyone on line now with recycling and composting. But given that we have limited space for dumpsters, we don’t have a place to add another bin for two weeks of garbage. We used to have 1 recycling, 2 garbage, and no composting, now we found space for 1 composting, 1 garbage, and 2 recycling (the big suckers). I feel like we will be punished for doing the right thing. We just don’t have space for 30+ ‘households’.

    Comment by murien — 8:47 pm January 15, 2014 #

  32. Less garbage pick up means more trash to blow around our neighborhoods, more for the crows to pick at, for the rats to feed on and finally more coyotes and trash and puget sound

    I live in a house of 5 that recycles most , composts a lot and still fill a trash can

    The only way to change this would be to strike and start our on trash haul business.

    Contact me at ted.ellis@gmail.com if you agree

    I may start my own up because I am sick and tired of service cuts in the name of savings but we all end up paying more in the long run

    Comment by Ted — 9:16 pm January 15, 2014 #

  33. John, I’ll try the cloth diapers if I can bring the soiled ones to your house to clean. Or maybe I can bury my disposables in your secret latrine?

    Comment by diaper sinner — 7:46 am January 16, 2014 #

  34. So let me get this straight. Service cut in half to once every two weeks, our bills won’t show a reduction and now most people will have to get a larger trash can at a higher cost?

    Seems like a sweet deal, for the city. They will lower their costs and they will see an increase in rates because of the need for larger cans.

    Am I getting this right?

    Comment by Brewmeister — 7:49 am January 16, 2014 #

  35. I firmly believe that the meetings and surveys ostensibly offered for community input are naught but a sham. This is a tradition most often employed by Metro, meant only to give the impression of involving taxpayers in decision-making. In reality, the decision has been made, and neither reality nor customer input has any part in it. Our opinions mean NOTHING any more. It’s a waste of time.

    Comment by anonyme — 7:53 am January 16, 2014 #

  36. I know we’re all amateur urban planners, economists, and ecologist, to say nothing of political activists with regards to our favorite pet projects, but the City is looking at solutions to ever increasing costs and have run this one up the flagpole.

    We’re voicing our concerns through the proper channels and we’ll see how this all turns out, but in the meantime, let’s not act like this is the Stamp Act of 1765. Sheesh!

    I for one welcome the increase in rat population so you all can stop whining about the danger the coyotes pose to little Fido and Fifi!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coyote#Diet_and_hunting

    Comment by JAT — 8:08 am January 16, 2014 #

  37. Since the largest cost items are running the trucks and paying the drivers, unless my charges get cut in half, this is a no-go. This appears to be a blatant attempt to keep more of our $ while providing less service.

    Comment by WestofJunction — 8:34 am January 16, 2014 #

  38. I have a household of 3 adults filling a micro-can weekly. I’d like to see some way to dispose of 1. pet waste and litter, and 2. plastic food packaging (I try to buy less of that but it’s hard) that’s not going to the dump. That’s what primarily makes up my trash.

    Comment by heather — 9:01 am January 16, 2014 #

  39. I moved from a city that has biweekly garbage pick up.
    That was the smelliest, fly blown, rat plagued summer ever.

    The city’s response to the complaints?
    Keep your garbage in the freezer until pick up day!

    @Heather,
    Pet waste can be flushed, there are baggies designed for this purpose.
    :Facepalm:

    Comment by Finbar — 9:37 am January 16, 2014 #

  40. Clarification to my last comment:
    :facepalm: was directed at the city I moved from, not at the previous poster.

    Comment by finbar — 12:16 pm January 16, 2014 #

  41. I’m concerned for the workers, many folks already push or exceed the weight limit alotted for their size container. Two weeks worth can be heavy. Then there’s also two weeks worth of trash fermenting in a closed container,and warmer weather is on the way.
    Keep the weekly collection.

    Comment by M. — 12:10 am January 17, 2014 #

  42. maybe I should start selling home trash compactors. do people use those any more? we had one in our kitchen when I was a kid (right next to the dish-washer). it was cool.
    http://www.homedepot.com/s/trash+compactor?NCNI-5

    Comment by sam-c — 9:11 am January 17, 2014 #

  43. Anyone who has a cat(s) knows how heavy litter is….and not flushable. My garbage man grumbles to himself and throws meanfaced stares up at our house now. He’ll really love hoisting the can after two weeks!

    Comment by dancing cat — 9:55 am January 17, 2014 #

  44. The micro can has a 20 lb weight limit, learned that when we went over and they refused to pick up the garbage and clay cat litter will max that out. We switched over to swheat scoop. Our cats have no problem with it and it is very lightweight. Garbage guy doesn’t miss the pick-up anymore. Happy family, happy cats and happy garbage hauler :)

    Comment by Laura — 11:57 pm January 18, 2014 #

  45. I question the impact bi-weekly removal will have on public health. I have not seen any information on this from the City and I feel it is a big mistake. This is a port city with a rat problem- do we want to risk spreading disease and increasing vermin for a few dollars savings each year?

    Comment by highland park resident — 2:37 pm January 21, 2014 #

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