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Mayor Durkan Releases New Clean Cities Proposal to Address Illegal Dumping and Trash in Streets and Parks

With Some Initial Steps in Progress, Proposal Using New Revenue Could Quickly Expand City Services

SEATTLE (November 4, 2020) – Today, Mayor Jenny A. Durkan announced her proposal to address illegal dumping and trash in streets and parks. The Mayor announced a series of actions the City can take within the current budget and some actions that would require additional appropriation from City Council to invest in a surge of cleaning efforts at our parks and public spaces over the next eight months. With many of these priorities under consideration by Council, the Mayor’s proposal asks City Council to fund these activities with new revenue projected from an updated revenue forecast released Monday.

“Hearing from community members all over the city that more needs to be done to clean our public rights of way and parks, departments across the city have been working for weeks on a comprehensive plan that can be quickly implemented following City Council approval of additional funds. Our parks have become an important refuge for Seattle residents during the COVID-19 pandemic, and it is critical we keep our parks and playgrounds safe and accessible to all,” said Mayor Durkan. “Building on two priorities identified by City Councilmembers – like expanding the purple bag program and needle collection facilities – we can devote some of our new revenue to keeping Seattle clean and ready for recovery for our small businesses and neighborhoods.”

Since the beginning of the pandemic, through a combination of increases in trash and litter at parks, reduced staffing due to COVID-19 safety, and a lack of volunteer opportunities for residents, the City faced significant challenges addressing litter, illegal dumping, and trash remediation. Data from SPU’s Illegal Dumping program shows a 195% increase in the volume of material collected from Q2 to Q3 2020.

Weeks ago, Mayor Durkan asked departments including SDOT, SPR, OED and SPU to create a comprehensive plan to address the increase of waste challenges across the City. This plan would double trash pick-up routes, stand up a rapid response team within Seattle Parks and Recreation to address trash in parks, and make infrastructure improvements in key parks to improve overall cleanliness. The proposal doubles the purple bag program, doubles the number of needle disposal boxes in the city and would expand the graffiti ranger program. Funding would also be directed to business districts throughout the city to increase contracted cleaning in their neighborhoods.

The City would also create four Community Clean teams to provide cleaning, graffiti abatement, and grounds maintenance services to a dedicated quadrant of the City. The joint effort would be informed by Find It, Fix It and other departmental data sources to provide a coordinated, rapid response to address hotspots throughout the city.

In addition, SPU would more than double the number of trash pickup routes which provide twice weekly collection of trash and bulky items in public rights of way. The number of routes would more than double from 8 to 18 to emphasize the following areas:

  • Capitol Hill
  • Ballard
  • International District (Interstate 90)
  • Georgetown
  • University District
  • Aurora
  • Lake City
  • West Seattle

An overview of this proposal was sent to City Council today and can be found here.