International District businesses work to get rid of stench

by: David Ham Updated:

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SEATTLE, Wash. - There are 120 restaurants in Seattle's International District, and business owners know they all can produce a lot of garbage.

"It would just pile up on top of these dumpsters here and that was happening throughout the neighborhood," said Ben Grace of the Chinatown International District Business Improvement Area.

Right now most of the trash is picked up once a week in dumpsters sitting in alleys.

"We're working our best to make this a more appealing neighborhood for everyone," said Grace.

"It just kind of sits in there and kind of decomposes and starts smelling," said I-Miun Liu, owner of the Eastern Cafe.

Seattle Public Utilities is starting to ban the dumpsters in some parts of the city.

Dumpsters are banned in alleys throughout all of downtown, specifically I-5 to the waterfront and Yesler to Denny plus Pioneer Square.

The city hopes to implement the ban to all of the International District by May.

"We're getting rid of all these dumpsters.  We're switching to a bag program.  We have more frequent pickup for recycling for compost so everything is getting picked up more frequently keeps the neighborhood cleaner keeps the smells down and it's going to make it more appealing for visitors as they come to our neighborhood," said Grace.

Instead of paying about $200 to $300 a month, businesses will pay about $6 per bag of garbage picked up.

The garbage would be picked up at least twice a day.

"We want to do the best for the community.  If there's a new way of doing something, we want to be the first ones to jump on board," said Liu.

Some alleys in the International District have already been cleared of dumpsters. Dumpsters will be allowed under the new rules if they remain on private property.

Grace said some of business owners have objected to the changes.

"Some here you have some of restaurants that are used to doing something for 30 years teaching them a new thing takes time," said Grace.

But Grace and other community leaders believe this will help bring much needed foot traffic to the area.

"This neighborhood helped shape the identity of Seattle we really just want to draw people back to the neighborhood and realize there is great dim sum down here there’s a lot of great food. Our job is to make the neighborhood safer make the neighborhood cleaner get rid of smells get rid of the garbage in the alleys," said Grace.

Seattle Public Utilities hopes to have all the alleys cleared of dumpsters by May.