LOCAL NEWS

‘Seattle Trash Map’ argues Ballard is ‘ground zero’ for trash problem

May 13, 2019, 1:19 PM | Updated: May 14, 2019, 9:24 am
homelessness crisis, Ann Davison Satler, sweeps, homelessness conference, coronavirus...
Seattle's Navigation Teams cleans up a homeless encampment in Northgate in January 2019. (Carolyn Ossorio, KIRO Radio)
(Carolyn Ossorio, KIRO Radio)

Researcher and reporter Chris Rufo has become known as a local voice on Seattle’s hot button topics. On Monday, he unveiled a side project he has also been working on — trash.

More specifically, a Seattle trash map.

“Obviously, anyone who drives through a neighborhood in Seattle can see trash and needles across the street,” Rufo told The Candy, Mike, and Todd Show on KIRO Radio. “I wanted to really figure out how much trash is there in the city of Seattle with a little more statistical precision. So I did a public records request for all the citizen complaints for trash, needles, feces, tents, biohazards for 2018. And I got back 19,000 citizen complaints. I geo-coded them, and I mapped them in an interactive map.”

RELATED: Seattle journalist alleges misinformation campaign

“It’s shocking,” he said. “The map is just covered in all of these reported trash.”

Rufo notes that the map includes text of the complaints, and points to a few that stood out while he was putting the map together: “Illegal camping, needles, weapons, tons of homeless. Will not use park with my daughter. Been approached by homeless with her. Dangerous and fear assault might happen!”

“Each one has a bit of a citizen story,” Rufo said. “Sometimes it’s just saying ‘Hey, there’s an empty fridge on my street.’ Other ones are saying ‘There’s a tent encampment, they’re generating trash, and they chased after my neighbor with a hatchet.’ Some pretty dramatic stories that paint a picture of a city that really has a trash problem, that’s gone wrong.”

The map is interactive, but is not comparative. It only covers 2018 and does not provide context to gauge if trash is increasing, decreasing, or moving around the city, year by year. Rufo says the natural next step is to document the trash over time.

“The snapshot is really important because there’s this argument over homeless encampments, trash, and needles and it really shows that neighbors and people who are complaining are not just imagining it,” Rufo said. “Especially in places like Ballard, SoDo, the University District there is just a proliferation of trash. You can’t walk half a block without reported needles, or feces, or all sorts of other unpleasant deposits along our streets.”

“There’s a real case to be made that homeless camps are creating the majority of this trash,” he said. “Even the Seattle city government, in 2017, cleaned 8.6 million pounds of trash from just a fraction of the homeless encampments. So I think that the narrative which a lot of the more ideological people and activists really want to downplay, I think something like the trash map shows the link is real, the link is substantive, and it’s causing real disorder in our city.”

When it comes to the worst affected areas of Seattle, Rufo argues that Ballard gets it the worst.

“The map really shows that Ballard is ground zero for all of this nasty trash problem,” he said.

He further comments via his methodology statement, summing up how he developed the Seattle Trash Map, “Every data point is a small story that builds the argument that homeless encampments, opioid addiction, and hands-off law enforcement have created significant disorder in almost every corner of the city.”

Local News

(Photo by Mat Hayward/Getty Images)...
Frank Sumrall

Mayor’s search for permanent Police Chief looms over Seattle amid depleting law enforcement numbers

Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell recently consulted with a hiring firm as the decision to choose the next Chief of Police heats up.
2 days ago
Seattle Sun...
KIRO 7 News Staff

Sunny skies, warm temperatures forecast for western Washington this weekend

Sunny skies and warm temperatures are forecast for much of western Washington, with some areas expected to reach temps in the 70s.
2 days ago
Student STEM...
Nicole Jennings

From athletes to mathletes: STEM Signing Day shines light on WA scholars

STEM Signing Day gives stellar science, technology, engineering, and math scholars a chance to shine in the same way as high school athletes.
2 days ago
Prison 900x506...
MyNorthwest Staff

Governor Inslee cancels parole determination for triple murderer

Governor Inslee has cancelled an order that granted parole to Timothy Pauley, who had been incarcerated for three counts of first degree murder in 1981.
2 days ago
revive I-5...
MyNorthwest Staff

Revive I-5, Montlake Bridge closure will cause traffic issues this weekend

The sunny forecast will put Seattleites in a great mood this weekend, but the traffic won't thanks to repairs to I-5 and the Montlake Bridge.
2 days ago
Police follow protesters as they move through the city during racial justice protests on November 3...
Hanna Scott

Report on 2020 protests recommends new training for SPD, debunks “mob psychology”

SPD’s approach to the 2020 protests underutilized de-escalation through dialogue and relied on indiscriminate and disproportionate use of force.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
...

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]
...

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]
...

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
...
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
‘Seattle Trash Map’ argues Ballard is ‘ground zero’ for trash problem