At least 20 bulging garbage bags full of fast-food restaurant trash—a messneighbors estimate weighs in at about 500 pounds—have shown up on curbs in the residential sliver between University Way and Roosevelt Way this month. For the past three weeks neighbors say they've had to haul bags stuffed with garbage from a KFC—blue Pepsi cups, grease, batter, and empty chicken-wing buckets emblazoned with the company's red-and-white logo—off their curbs after the garbage mysteriously arrived in the middle of the night. The neighbors logged their finds in a spreadsheet (with notes such as "huge bags of baked beans and chicken," and "two take up our entire trash can") and digitally photographed the evidence. "The barbecue sauce sticks to the inside of the bags," says neighbor Paul Willard. "It's pretty foul."
In an effort to figure out what to do about the unwelcome garbage, the neighbors called the city: The illegal-dumping hotline, the neighborhood service center, and even the city attorney's office north police precinct staffer. Finally, neighbor Alison Pan—at the suggestion of an assistant city attorney—took on the unpleasant task of digging through the bags to find a receipt, to trace the garbage to a specific KFC. She says she found one, from a KFC at 132nd Street and Aurora Avenue, nearly six miles away. Neighbors left messages with the manager and considered carting the garbage back to its suspected origin.
The manager called back and visited one neighbor's personal collection of the trash on Saturday, September 10. According to neighbors, the manager said the wayward dumping wasn't his problem; his staff puts the restaurant's trash in their large dumpster. Perhaps homeless people had rooted in the dumpster and carted entire bags of it to the University District, he suggested (a bizarre explanation, neighbors say). Before he left, the manager promised neighbors he'd call by Tuesday to confirm he'd locked the dumpster.
"He never called," says Willard. Pan, his girlfriend, checked up on the shop's dumpster late last week and found it unlocked. The 132nd Street KFC referred The Stranger to Pacific Restaurants Inc. Pacific did not return our call.
One more sack of garbage showed up Sunday morning, September 11. A neighbor saw a red pickup truck speeding through the neighborhood that night, carting a load of plump garbage sacks.
At 4:30 a.m. the next Sunday morning, with his wife asleep upstairs, neighbor Daryl Boughton stood guard in their foyer, peeking between the window's sheer white curtains onto quiet 12th Avenue Northeast. (He'd personally found several 55-gallon bags "full of chicken parts," lying on the curb in front of his house.)
He's been keeping his post every day this week. So far he—and other neighbors up the street armed with video cameras—haven't seen any middle-of-the-night dumping. The neighbors' meeting with the manager appears to have staved off the flow of trash, though. And city staffers have picked up what had already accumulated.
"They stopped dumping on our street, but it's probably been going on all over the city," Willard suspects. "They could still be dumping them other places," where "neighbors are too unorganized to catch a pattern."firstname.lastname@example.org
FREMONT: A new congregation has taken over the historic church building at North 42nd Street and plans to add a 10,000 square-foot arts center in the non-worship space—complete with a 250-seat concert venue and a liquor license, nervous neighbors say. "We don't think the neighborhood can handle a club," says neighbor Silvia Ceravolo, who's been trying to organize a meeting with the church's leaders to hammer out a compromise.
QUEEN ANNE: Developers plan to tear down a 95-year-old brick, six-unit apartment building on West Olympic Place and replace it with a seven-unit townhouse complex. "They're going to start at some ridiculous amount, like $700,000," says Claire Sandburg—likely a much bigger mortgage payment than the former rentals.
PIKE/PINE: Residents and business owners organized a September 20 after-hours meeting at neighborhood salon Zero-Zero to talk about a recent rash of frightening crimes in the neighborhood: A week earlier, two men were stabbed in front of a Pine Street bar. Organizers of the meeting plan to discuss that incident and other "fucked up things going on," like the neighborhood's crack problem. —AJ