FOLLOWUP: Mayor slams the lid on revisiting every-other-week garbage-pickup idea

Apparently trash pickup is a hot-button issue for Mayor Jenny Durkan. Though District 1 City Councilmember Lisa Herbold couldn’t get the mayor to make a statement promising fireworks enforcement, today she found herself the recipient of an unsolicited terse letter from the mayor right before Herbold’s committee revisited the idea of every-other-week trash pickup:

In the letter, which we requested and obtained from the mayor’s office after hearing it mentioned during the meeting, Durkan declared, “I believe that garbage should be picked up every week in every part of the city and do not support any efforts at reducing service levels to the people of Seattle.” Among other concerns, she noted that households of color and households with lower income were among those most displeased with the 2012 pilot in four city neighborhoods (including part of Highland Park).

Today’s briefing – previewed here yesterday – was not connected to any formal proposal to change service levels; Herbold said she thought it was worth talking about as the city tries to find more ways to meet environmental goals, with some other cities having success in going to every other week. Another of the councilmembers present, Mike O’Brien, lamented that Seattleites have stalled in progress toward a zero-waste/reduced-emissions future, and admitted he had not been pushing much for change in recent years. But the mayoral hammer hung heavy in the air as the meeting ended on a note of frustration as much as anything else, with Herbold wondering, “if not this, then what?”

36 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: Mayor slams the lid on revisiting every-other-week garbage-pickup idea"

  • Nolan July 9, 2019 (4:06 pm)

    Has Durkan done anything in office besides scuttle or otherwise compromise major public works projects? Besides photo opportunities with big businesses, I mean.

    • Jort July 9, 2019 (11:01 pm)

      Durkan governs by comment section consensus. Want a good idea of her legislative priorities? Read the Seattle Times comment section on basically any controversial issue. She uses those comments as an informal polling data and makes decisions accordingly. Also: the more comments, the more likely it is for her to employ Maximum Seattle Process to slow things down as much as possible. She is a garbage mayor. 

      • K July 10, 2019 (9:24 am)

        I don’t know….listening to what the people want sounds reasonable to me. 

    • dflt July 10, 2019 (6:16 pm)

      “Racial Equity Toolkit Analysis”… sigh.

  • MJ July 9, 2019 (4:34 pm)

    I prefer weekly pick up.  Diapers and cats generate the need for weekly service!The Mayors reasoning of racial and social equity in this case is a red herring.  If everyone has bi-weekly service how is this not equal to all involved?

  • My two cents ... July 9, 2019 (6:21 pm)

    Councilmember Herbold once again has yet another idea nullified. Nice to see that the greater city didn’t have to protest this, nor money was burned chasing after this, and last but not least – no court decision. This is just another example of where Councilmember Herbold spends more time burnishing her reputation than she does on working towards pragmatic, realistic, and practical solutions to the community that she serves, the community as a whole. Maybe some city can bring Councilmember Herbold in to talk about the evils of weekly garbage pickup since the New York – Amazon event went over so well.

    • Jon Wright July 9, 2019 (11:54 pm)

      So you’re upset that the city committee responsible for city utilities, of which Councilmember Herbold is Chair, is exploring a possible way to reduce the cost of curbside garbage pickup? Sure sounds to me like that committee is doing exactly what they ought to be doing and that you have an axe to grind.

      • My two cents ... July 10, 2019 (4:40 am)

        @jon wright – no impact to cost of the services per the articles/reporting. Coincilmember Herbold seems to favor a headline over substantive impacts to the the community that she “represents”.

        • Jon Wright July 10, 2019 (9:13 am)

          Too eager to find an excuse to grind that axe to notice the part about the potential for up to 30% operational savings.

  • The King July 9, 2019 (7:00 pm)

    While I wasn’t for the proposed plan, I get why they want to try this. The garbage trucks cost per mile in fuel and maintenance would drastically drop, increasing their profits. I’m guessing garbage truck laborers are getting harder to find and pay needs to increase to retain them. 

  • myneighborisatroll July 9, 2019 (7:04 pm)

    Great, so  does that mean we get a second dumpster or one twice as big,  along with 4 more recycle bins? All of which are full weekly and have no room for at our appt.

    • West Seattle since 1979 July 9, 2019 (9:12 pm)

      @myneighborisatroll, nothing is changing, unless I’m misreading this. We’ll still have weekly pickup.

    • Olafur July 9, 2019 (9:43 pm)

      @myneighborisatroll, are you my neighbor? :-)

    • kram July 9, 2019 (10:20 pm)

      Your recycling goes into a Chinese landfill anyway. I wouldn’t worry about having more recycling bins. Look it up.

  • PW July 9, 2019 (7:36 pm)

    Lets focus on the homeless and clean up that entails, that would be my vote.

  • Lee July 9, 2019 (7:43 pm)

    This is a practical, doable step that the city could take to reduce its carbon footprint. It’s a shame that instead of trying to make it work – and address the social justice issues by tweaking the program – we’re just maintaining the status quo.

    • Seattlite July 10, 2019 (8:13 am)

      Lee — What about all of the people on strict budgets who opt for using the small garbage receptacle and small food/waste receptacle due to cost? If garbage were picked up every other week these people would have to use the bigger receptacles which would cost them more money. So the city makes more money and the tax payers blow their budgets on garbage receptacles.

  • Mj July 9, 2019 (8:06 pm)

    Lee I’m at a loss as to what social justice issue is at stake?  If everones service goes to every other week that is treating everyone exactly the same!

  • KP July 9, 2019 (8:11 pm)

    I just really appreciate your header. Slams the lid, good one.

    • WSB July 9, 2019 (8:54 pm)

      Thanks, coming out of a difficult stretch when just the basics were about all we could manage (putting one word in front of the other, to paraphrase), hoping to be a little livelier as time goes by!

  • Steve July 9, 2019 (9:43 pm)

    Say goodbye, Lisa Herbold.  A stupid idea and I fully support Mayor Durkin in shutting it down.  If it doesn’t save any money then why would you even bother doing it??

    • Jon Wright July 10, 2019 (2:57 am)

      It really doesn’t take that much trouble to skim the slide deck included in yesterday’s blog story. If you go back and do that, please note on the “Financial Benefits” slide where it says “Earlier cost reviews suggest potential operational savings of up to 30% on garbage collection costs.” So yes, it sounds like going to every-other-week garbage collection would save money.

      • Maria July 10, 2019 (9:54 am)

        The deck shows no savings to customers (in fact some would have increased), and the City already has a contract for the service.  So whereas there are carbon benefits for all, Waste Management benefits financially until the next contract.

  • KT July 9, 2019 (9:51 pm)

    Jet when I thought i had heard everything – “Racial Equity atoolkit analysis”.  Speechless.

  • Dan July 9, 2019 (11:48 pm)

    Didn’t the city just buy a few electric Garbage trucks?  I swear I read that and they want to move to an electric fleet.  If that is the plan than what is the real reason to do this?

  • Good July 10, 2019 (3:36 am)

    As a condo dweller I support every week. Our garbage and recycling is emptied and full again in three days. We get other people in the neighborhood plus people not in the neighborhood dumping their crap in our bins as well on a regular basis. So you can imagine what would happen if pick up was every two weeks. Glad she shut it down.

  • WSRes July 10, 2019 (7:07 am)

    Is this an editorial or a regular article? The tone of the first paragraph is quite odd and makes a strange references to fireworks e.g. an entirely different issue. Also, I find it odd that Mayor Durkan’s letter is classified as terse. It does not read that way to me. 

    • Will S. July 10, 2019 (10:00 am)

      I find it odd that a media critic would expect a community blog to follow the same editorial policies as the New York Times or Washington Post (which don’t even apply their own policies to their own blogs). But allow me to connect the topic of this well-reported post to the blog’s coverage of fireworks issues: Councilmember Herbold seeks reelection in a climate of widespread (though certainly not universal) public dissatisfaction with the city council. Ms. Herbold has repeatedly stated–and appears to be campaigning on–an assertion that public dissatisfaction with the council is misplaced, because the council has done a fine job setting city policies while the executive branch of city government has failed to effectively implement those policies. In other words, it’s all the mayor’s fault, according to Ms. Herbold. As you can imagine, it appears that Mayor Durkan resents this strategy. So we have reached at point at which when Ms. Herbold asks the executive branch to do something–whether step up fireworks enforcement at the last minute or consider changing garbage pickup schedules based on a 7-year-old study–the executive branch either ignores the request or outright refuses it. Each voter can decide here who to hold accountable, but those are pretty much the facts of the matter.

      • cjboffoli July 10, 2019 (1:18 pm)

        It is a disservice to dismiss the WSB as a “community blog.”  It may not own printing presses or news copters but it is – and has been for a long time –  an independent,  professionally run news organization for this community. It is owned and operated by highly-experienced, award-winning, professional journalists.  The WSB is often the first place many West Seattle residents go to find out about what is happening in this community, frequently providing information that other media in Seattle simply don’t take the time to cover. 

  • Gina July 10, 2019 (9:19 am)

    Would the social justice issue be that larger groups of people living together for financial reasons would logically have the equal amount of refuse per person as those living in a group of two or three? But when you look at it by household it looks like a lot of trash. Even with recycling.

  • helpermonkey July 10, 2019 (10:49 am)

    as often as they miss our yard waste pickup it seems like we already have every-other-week service. 

  • Tired July 10, 2019 (12:20 pm)

    Wow, that’s a lot of savings that if I even saw any of it I’d be happy.  As it is right now, there is so much waste.  The trucks drive down our street picking up only ONE side at at a time so then they have to come back down the street for the other side.  What a waste of fuel and wear/tear on the vehicles!  Give me a bigger garbage can and pick it up twice a month, who cares, are we really that garbage obsessed.  Portland does this, smaller cities around us do this, it works just fine but they started that way so it’s not a change.  Seems like we’re very opposed to change.  And dirty diapers and cat poop?  Really, everyone bags these things up anyway and plus there’s a lid on the garbage can so not sure how this will smell.  Why not try this?

  • anonyme July 10, 2019 (5:47 pm)

    Characterizing this issue as one of “significant race and social justice” is nothing short of ridiculous.  It has become a common tactic for immediately shutting down any attempt at rational discussion.  Durkan should be ashamed for playing the race card over garbage pickup.  Meanwhile, I do find it significant that she felt compelled to chime in on this business, while completely ignoring Herbold’s written requests for assistance with fireworks enforcement two years in a row.   I’m not a fan of Herbold, but she acted appropriately in both circumstances.  Durkan did not.

  • anonyme July 11, 2019 (10:30 am)

    Trucks pick up one side at a time for both safety and efficiency.  Having workers zig-zag across streets and against traffic is neither, and it actually takes longer.

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