City taking a new approach to illegal dumping, says councilmember

(File photo)

Illegal dumping is a big problem – our check of WSB archives underscores that, turning up a pile of reports. Just how big? District 1 City Councilmember Lisa Herbold has stats in her latest e-mail update, sent this morning – and reveals that Seattle Public Utilities has a new approach for handling the problem:

Since 2014, the number of illegal dumping service requests to SPU has jumped from about 5,000 to an astonishing 11,500 in 2015. As a result, unfortunately, the average response time went from 21 days to 28 days. To address this SPU decided they needed to find a way to both 1. Reduce the current service request backlog and 2. Improve future response times.

In order to do that, last week SPU assigned temporary staff to consolidate the backlog of service requests. As of February 18th they had 100% of the backlogged requests reviewed and found that approximately 25% were duplicate requests. This clearly demonstrated a need to address the issue of illegal dumping differently. In other words, SPU shifted from an enforcement model that only responded to complaints, to an enforcement model that also includes proactively clean up illegal dumping in areas where it happens frequently.

SPU is now preparing “clean sweep” maps and routes for cleanup crews where they will drive each street to pick up both reported and unreported items – especially in those locations that have frequent illegal dumping activity, so that pick-up opportunities are maximized, the complaint backlog reduced, and response time improved.

Your options for reporting illegal dumping are listed here – and of course, there’s also the city’s Find It Fix It app.

23 Replies to "City taking a new approach to illegal dumping, says councilmember"

  • TC February 25, 2016 (9:41 am)

    can we call on these RV’s that are illegally dumping while they illegally park? i see it every day more trash just piles up.

  • TheKing February 25, 2016 (9:44 am)

    There is no excuse for dumping, but the city transfer station (the dump to us older folks) prices used to be $14 for a 600 pound load. It is now 30 for 425 pound load and has been for a while now to pay for the new upgraded facilities with art sculptures attached to the buildings. $15 a tire, clean green which used to be free comes with a charge. With our homeless and rampant drug use in the city, high dump prices….what did they think was going to happen? 

  • Chuck February 25, 2016 (9:49 am)

    This is akin to sending Speedy Auto glass to high car prowl areas in anticipation of broken car windows. At tax payer expense, of course.

    Yes, illegal dumping is a huge problem, and this will help remove debris. For a short period. Until the next jerk backs in with his old couch and fat back TV.  Without stiffer penalties and enforcement (and here’s an idea–lower dump fees and/or offer “amnesty days”) the people who can’t afford the dump will continue to be blight on our neighborhoods.

  • Gatewood Rob February 25, 2016 (9:50 am)

    Couple ideas. 1) Make the cost of going to the dump less, or free.  Take a bit out of each of the garbage bill everyone pays. 2) Allow reimbursement of fee to someone with extra time and truck space to take to dump.  How much does it cost the city crew to go out and pick up and dump?  See the mess, take a photo with location, check a list to make sure it’s on the reported list, take to transfer station, and either they check it off or you send in the receipt and picture before and after and get a gift card and dump fee too.  Would people that dump their junk, take a picture and reload it?  Yeah, morons.  And it wouldn’t be on the list.  Should also apply to shopping carts.  3) more free dump days or coupons.  They could be traded or given away on nextdoor.  4)  Maybe the city could hire some of the, what, 6000 homeless to clean up their own mess, in addition to what services they are already sponging.  Oops.  To far…

    • Brian February 25, 2016 (11:32 am)

      Idea #2 is a non-starter. Too much liability for the city. What if you go to pick up a load and it’s full of needles or rusty metal and you cut yourself?      

  • cjboffoli February 25, 2016 (9:57 am)

    If SPU has identified locations of frequent dumping, it seems to me that hidden cameras at those locations would do a great job of catching the low-lifes who are doing the dumping.

  • Polly February 25, 2016 (10:03 am)

    I have a home in Idaho and all their dumps are FREE to take anything you want,  maybe they should follow suit, Seattle use to have drop off areas years ago that worked for a lot of people and it was free also, those days are long gone  so this is what you get……

  • K'lo February 25, 2016 (10:22 am)


  • M February 25, 2016 (10:24 am)

    The bigger problem in my neighborhood seems to be stolen shopping carts. What do we do about that? I get that some people don’t have cars and need to get groceries home. However, I have never seen someone return a shopping cart they have “borrowed.”  Next time they just roll another cart home and stack them, apparently waiting for the shopping cart elves to come and take them away in the night. Just seems so lazy and disrespectful of one’s neighbors. It’s a phenomenon I never experienced until I moved to West Seattle. 

    • wb February 25, 2016 (8:33 pm)

      This behavior happened when I lived in Fremont.  I called the stores and told them where to find their shopping carts–their property.  They came and got them.  

  • KellyM February 25, 2016 (10:32 am)

    Cameras on the known dump sites sounds like a good idea, but the cost may be prohibitive.  On one hand I like the pro-active clean up of these, but on the other hand once people figure out where these spots are they might just become the “free dump” everyone is looking for without actually having to take your stuff to the dump yourself.  In some other areas of the country they have “free” days where you can put out all manner of items that will be picked up for free with no restriction on items or quantities.  Perhaps some form of that service could be examined.  I know I’d use that. I don’t dump my crap in alley ways or greenbelts, but I don’t have a truck available so I currently have a bunch of stuff that I’d like to get rid of but it’s not easy to do so.

    • sam-c February 25, 2016 (11:13 am)

      Cameras might be a good idea in hopefully that they would deter people, but otherwise, what good is the footage? Surely it will get posted here on WSB, but it’s not like the police will try to go after anyone, right? I mean, it seems like when residents have video footage of people stealing packages from their front porch, the police don’t even want it/ watch it/ use it to try to investigate, right? (or am I wrong on that account?)  And usually the footage is so bad/ blurry/ grainy, anyway.

    • chemist February 25, 2016 (1:14 pm)

      Maybe every account-holder should get one or two “bulky item collection tickets” per year that can be can be redeemed or even donated to neighborhood dump cleanup efforts.

      • Matt S. February 26, 2016 (7:21 pm)

        That seems like a fairly clever idea that could take some of the burden off the city. I wouldn’t mind paying more for service if the occasional odd load could be easier to deal with. 

  • BlairJ February 25, 2016 (11:39 am)

    People who won’t pay a $30 dump fee still won’t pay it if it’s only $10.  Making it totally free would discourage some people from repurposing/recycling/composting, which would in turn increase the amount of material going into the landfill.

  • kg February 25, 2016 (11:41 am)

    A proactive citizen could get some relatively inexpensive game cameras from cabelas or big 5.

  • SeattleGrrl February 25, 2016 (3:44 pm)

    Thank you for posting this! I am so sick of two of our neighbors who are constantly dumping huge piles of junk in the alley east of California between Andover and Dakota. It’s out of hand!

  • Valvashon February 25, 2016 (5:34 pm)

    My tire picture got used as a “file photo”.  Cool!

  • flimflam February 25, 2016 (5:45 pm)

    …and does the council member think that the RV dump sites should fall under this category, or is that too much to ask?

  • New thinking needed February 25, 2016 (6:42 pm)

    Beacon Hill ridge has lots of garbage piles that re-appear week after week – really disgusting that citizens would do this to our city,. Some BH neighbors even put out home made signs that say stop dumping food, garbage….but seems not to help. 

  • wsea98116 February 26, 2016 (1:33 am)
    Removing the trash does not make it a new, free dump. Garbage is like a decoy for more garbage. It says, “dump garbage here”. This plan will help to deter illegal dumping. Which continues to be illegal- 
    unless you’re drug dealers living in a broken down RV, parked near a school, in an upscale Seattle residential neighborhood. 
  • Question Mark February 26, 2016 (8:33 pm)

    I heartily recommend that people who are going to dump illegally at least do it in the middle of the street. That way, it will definitely get picked up quicker. Dumping in back alleys or on private property just makes it a long term problem, and possibly a great expense, for an individual property owner.

    • Matt S. February 27, 2016 (3:20 pm)

      This is a frustratingly practical suggestion.

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