Mayor Durkan Launches ‘Clean Cities Initiative’ to Remove Waste from Seattle Parks


A week after Seattle neighborhood groups sent a letter to officials expressing concern over the “spiraling public health and safety crisis” in Seattle parks, Mayor Jenny Durkan announced a new “clean cities proposal” to fight against the garbage and waste that accumulates in these public spaces.

The proposal, announced yesterday by the mayor’s office, would use money in the current budget and new revenue to deliver a “wave of cleanup efforts” to Seattle neighborhoods.

“Hearing from community members across town say that more needs to be done to clean up our rights of way and public parks, departments across town have been working for weeks on a comprehensive plan that can be quickly implemented afterwards. approval by city council of additional funds. “Durkan said in a statement.” Our parks have become an important refuge for Seattle residents during the COVID-19 pandemic, and it is essential that we keep our parks and playgrounds safe and accessible to all. “

Staff disruptions and scheduled pickups caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have resulted in the build-up of trash and other waste, the city said. Illegal dumping has also increased, as the mayor’s office cited data from Seattle Public Utility’s (SPU) Illegal Dumping program which showed a 195% increase in the volume of materials collected this year.

Durkan’s proposal includes doubling the purple bag program for waste collection from homeless settlements, doubling the number of waste collection routes for bulky items, doubling the number of garbage disposal boxes. needles in the city and expand the graffiti rangers program to eliminate illegal graffiti.

It also creates interdepartmental “community cleanup teams” made up of employees from Seattle Parks and Recreation, Seattle Department of Transportation and SPU to “respond to illegal dumping, graffiti and garbage in public rights-of-way, parks, natural areas. and the surrounding area. encampments. ”This team will use data from the“ Find it, Fix it ”app to remove trash from city hot spots.

The total cost of the proposal is $ 5,594,000, according to a briefing sent to city council on Wednesday.

According to the briefing, the initiative is “not a proposal to increase camp removals”. However, these settlements were one of the main concerns raised in the letter from neighborhood alliances and community councils last week.

Cases such as assaults, open drug use, damaged infrastructure, human waste and even murder-suicide in parks were also cited by the groups.

“Due to COVID-19, regular maintenance, programming and events at these parks have been suspended, leaving them without critical management and the usual anchoring of positive social activity,” the letter said. “As a result, our parks and public spaces have become dangerous and chaotic – the exact opposite of what people need right now. And acres of park space have been closed to the public because they were closed by the City, vandalized or inaccessible for use by Seattle residents. “

Neighborhoods highlighted by the city for cleanup efforts include Aurora, Ballard, Capitol Hill, Georgetown, International District, Lake City, University District, and West Seattle. No specific park has been named by the city.

Durkan said these waste disposal and cleanup efforts will help the city’s economic recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic.

“By building on two priorities identified by City Council members – such as expanding the purple bag program and needle collection facilities – we can devote a portion of our new income to keeping Seattle clean and ready to go. recovered for our small businesses and neighborhoods, ”Durkan said.



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