West Seattle snow: Missed trash pickups, and what’s next

MargL in Arbor Heights got that photo of crows doing what city-contracted crews haven’t been able to do for the past two Mondays — pick up the trash. Last Monday, you may recall, it was just a West Seattle situation, as our roads were still iced over from the preceding weekend’s snow; they vowed to try again the next day – that didn’t work – so the message was, set out double the amount the following Monday. That was today, and even last night, as we reported in our ongoing coverage, the city said pickup was unlikely. So now what? And why can’t those trash trucks make it around, some asked? Brett Stav and Andy Ryan of Seattle Public Utilities did a media tour late today – and offered to come out to WSB HQ too for a video interview – we’d usually go downtown for a briefing on some big issue like this, but we’ve been a little tied to headquarters by the continuous coverage. Re: why not try pickup, here’s how Stav answered:

(We chose a neighbor’s trash can and holiday lights as a scenic backdrop, in case you were wondering, there at screen right.) We also asked how they make the decision of whether they can make the rounds on a given day or not – wondering if it’s the same way Seattle Public Schools bus drivers make the call, doing an early-morning test run:

Now, the practical stuff. They’re going to try again tomorrow. So you can have double your trash AND recycling AND yard waste out, if you were supposed to get pickup today. If they don’t make it – or if we get word in the early am that they aren’t even going to try (and as he said, you’ll hear it here) – then the following Monday, it’s TRIPLE the amount. We asked whether they would be stingy or liberal with what constitutes “triple the amount.” He said, “Liberal.” (Too short to bother with uploading but we DO have it on video!) But don’t go rogue and try sneaking it into somebody else’s dumpster. If you have any way of getting to the transfer station in South Park, that offer for free disposal there still stands. Read more in SPU’s latest news release (same one we published here earlier today). And let us know if you still have questions – because we can seek answers tomorrow by e-mail or phone.

15 Replies to "West Seattle snow: Missed trash pickups, and what's next"

  • angelescrest December 22, 2008 (10:11 pm)

    Perhaps it’s been suggested, but why can’t the trash trucks make it to some main junctions, and we can wheel our trash out to ’em (and our neighbors’ too, with the crows going at it today). It would be a start, and I’d definitely go for it.

  • WSB December 22, 2008 (10:14 pm)

    It would be impossible for them to keep track of who’s been picked up and who hasn’t – plus the main roads aren’t necessarily any more passable – today, just look at the piles of snow (all our photos from morning coverage especially) at the roadside.

  • Eddie December 22, 2008 (10:24 pm)

    Half the pickups in a month = half the bill for a month. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

    They’re awful quick to hit you with an extra charge for a stray bag once in a blue moon, and there’s no forgiving an accidental huge water bill because of some unseen leak (which by the way will cost you all year long because the sewer charges are based on max water usage…). So, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

    No pickup = no payment.

  • angelescrest December 22, 2008 (10:30 pm)

    TR, why would it matter in an emergency situation like this who or who doesn’t receive services? Seems like it would better than becooming the Naples of the Northwest. I agree the roads are a mess, but perhaps there are accesible areas.

  • transplantella December 22, 2008 (10:33 pm)

    I have seen larger residential developments in our neighborhood get picked up during the time our trash has been left abandoned.

    The apartment complex directly across the street was picked up on schedule last Tuesday, and I have seen trucks picking up the trash at the Kenney.

    However those pickups were made by a different garbage service than ours. They all had great big tucks too. They got the job done, while these people have been dithering on the sideline for weeks now…..

  • Scott B. December 22, 2008 (10:39 pm)

    Did Brett Stav say “…almost 7000 tons when full…”?

    That would be almost 14 million pounds, since one ton equals 2000 pounds. Since the maximum loaded weight for a truck and trailer combination in Washington is 105,500 pounds, one loaded garbage truck would weigh the equivalent of approx. 132 loaded heavy-haulers.

    He made sure he had his hard hat prop, though.

  • WSB December 22, 2008 (10:48 pm)

    Y’know, people misspeak, and mistype sometimes. Sorry I didn’t hear that or I would have followed up. Nobody’s perfect – I was looking to see if anybody else wrote a story about the trash trouble and I came up with a recent Times story about how SPU’s boss is leaving because he got a better offer than the almost $200K he makes now. Note how many people the Times story says SPU serves:

    -TR (who used to run a website making fun of typos so when you catch me, I’m fair game)

  • Scott B. December 22, 2008 (10:52 pm)

    I thought it was an indication of how in touch (or not) a spokesman could be with the guys who drive the trucks.

  • AD December 22, 2008 (10:54 pm)

    TR, it’s all good. You are the best! We all make mistakes.
    Do you think I drive out of WS tomorrow? Driving with front wheel drive, a light weight civic, and no chains. Must. Get. Out.

    AD- who has now resorted to alcohol to alleviate cabin fever.

  • AD December 23, 2008 (12:20 am)

    We put ours out but we know it will not be picked up on Tuesday. :(

  • WSB December 23, 2008 (12:22 am)

    I have a feeling you’re right. But we will post the news as soon as it comes in …

  • DM December 23, 2008 (1:03 am)

    My alley, where SPU normally picks up my garbage, is a deep slippery mess to walk through. I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to drive through and haul heavy containers. Plus, there is the liability to SPU that someone previously pointed out. I don’t blame SPU for not picking up.

    They KNOW this has been an adverse weather event. They say they will pick up twice the garbage when they can, at the same weekly rate. If they charge you extra, simply call and talk to the nice people at SPU.

    I guess I’m running out of patience with the folks who expect everything in our city to run normally at this time. EVERYONE, city employees included, have been whacked by the repeated snow storms. I don’t work for the city, but I’m willing to cut them some slack.

  • WSB December 23, 2008 (1:12 am)

    Really good point there, DM. Watch the bill carefully when it comes next time.

  • littlebrowndog December 23, 2008 (2:03 am)

    FWIY, and definitely an overnight comment rather than an evening comment, we got a UPS delivery a little after 10pm. Now there’s dedication. Our street (49th SW) has not been plowed or sanded although it has had a lot of traffic so it is quite packed down compared to the smallest streets.

  • WSB December 23, 2008 (2:10 am)

    Glad to hear it. The morning post goes live at 4 am … if it really does snow again tomorrow night we’ll break it up more distinctly by dayparts again.

Sorry, comment time is over.