Survey results and a letter to the City: bi-weekly trash pickup changes

Seattle, Washington – February 6th, 2014


The Westwood/Roxhill/Arbor Heights Community Council (WWRAHCC), after being made aware that the City of Seattle was considering changing weekly city trash and garbage collection to bi-weekly, ran online surveys to research the popularity of this issue. The stated reasons for the proposed changes were both financial and environmental benefits to the city, in overall budget savings, and to reduce our solid waste impacts. In keeping with our responsibilities to our membership, we wanted to see if there was acceptance of this idea at this time. We found that the proposed changes lack any popular support.

In response, we have sent the following letter to Seattle Mayor Murray; Seattle Councilmembers Bagshaw, Sawant, Harrell, and Rasmussen, who oversee and control Seattle Public Works (SPU) from the Seattle Public Utilities and Neighborhoods committee, and to SPU Directors Hoffman and Croll. A PDF version of the letter may be downloaded here.

Thank you to everyone who participated in our polling and surveys.


In response to the proposed conversion of city trash pickup from weekly to bi-weekly service, the Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council (WWRHAH), representative of up to 11,000 residents, conducted online surveys and polling to gauge the opinions of our membership in response to this proposal.

For 11 days we conducted polls and surveys on Facebook and through a variety of neighborhood groups in our sub-area with an exposure of up to 797 residents, from January 11th, 2014 to January 22nd, 2014. From studying these polls all responses come from unique individuals. As city-wide political polling and even nationwide polling typically relies upon total respondents in the range of 400 to 700 individuals, we feel that this response rate of 62 residents is representative of the current views on this matter of the WWRHAH area.

  • 51.6% of our residents favor keeping trash pickups as-is, with weekly service.
  • 22.5% are open to bi-weekly service with a discounted rate. Most that expressed additional opinions on this favored that the rate be cut 50% if service is cut 50%.
  • 19.3% were in favor of bi-weekly service if the city absorbed the cost of doubling can sizes.
  • 6.3% were in favor of simply changing to bi-weekly trash service.

WWRHAH in the past to poll our membership has utilized these groups and methods to identify community issues, concerns, and to gauge if we should endorse certain matters or not. Of all of these trash related surveys, the response rate is typical and normal from anything we have seen in the past on each group.

Overwhelmingly, there is no support of a straight conversion to bi-weekly trash pickup. 41.9% of respondents are in support of bi-weekly with either a pricing offset/reduction to homeowners/consumers, or if there is a doubling in on-site trash capacity for homes and apartments.

At this time, WWRHAH through the stated desires of it’s membership area is opposed to the proposed changes as-is, and requests that the Seattle City Council adhere to the wishes of the community in your elected role to represent us.

We call on the City Council to perform outreach in a manner that would draw responses and to follow the community’s desires in this before taking any vote that would commit the city to bi-weekly pickup. In our local subarea, there is some support for this with mitigation for consumers, but no support for direct changeover to bi-weekly service.

Thank you for your time, service, and continued commitment to acting first and foremost on the stated desires of the community and electorate.

In Community,

Amanda Kay Helmick, WWRHAH Chair
Eric Iwamoto, WWRHAH Vice-Chair
Joe Szilagyi, WWRHAH Secretary

(Click “More” to expand this post and read the Appendices to the letter with extra data)

Letter Appendix 1: Details on the polling conducted by WWRHAH.

The following groups were directly surveyed. The responses and details were as follows.

WWRHAH Facebook: 233 members, 13 responses
Arbor Heights Neighbors Facebook: 90 members, 11 responses, Arbor Heights/Roxhill: 474 members, 38 replies

Total exposure: 797 residents
Total responses: 62 residents
Response rate: 7.7%
Overlap: <1% of membership, since on each all respondents answer by real name. There is little apparent overlap between these groups and websites. It is highly safe to assume all “votes” are unique and distinct.

  • Keep trash pickups weekly, as-is: 32 in favor
    • 51.6% of respondents
  • Move to bi-weekly with a discounted rate: 14 in favor
    • 22.5% of respondents
  • Move to bi-weekly with doubled can sizing: 12 in favor
    • 19.3% of respondents
  • Move to by-weekly pickups: 4 in favor
    • 6.4% of respondents

As additional evidence to submit, we posed the matching survey question to each of the seven Facebook “District” pages, which were organized for each of the seven new City Council Districts. The total membership of all seven groups as of January 22nd is 1,753 Facebook users. These District page responses reflect more broadly a wide sample of residents from across all of Seattle. There remains here little apparent statistical support for what is being proposed. Details on these additional surveys follow, and overwhelmingly that broader sample is not in favor, of an additional 84 responses and comments.

The total responses to the District pages were as follows, with 84 total responses.

  • “I prefer weekly service stay as it is.” – 37 in favor
    • 44.0% of respondents
  • “I prefer bi-weekly service.” – 8 in favor
    • 9.5% of respondents
  • “I prefer bi-weekly service if it comes with a price reduction.” – 29 in favor
    • 34.5% of respondents
  • “Other” –10 in favor11.9% of respondents
    • Of these, the majority expressed a desire for bigger cans

These District page responses reflect more broadly a wide sample of residents from across all of Seattle. There remains here little apparent statistical support for what is being proposed.

Letter Appendix 2: Polling/survey URL addresses.

Here are the reference links to our sub-area surveys for WWRHAH’s membership.

Here are the reference links to the District surveys.


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