570 KVI Special Guest: Christopher F. Rufo and how the Seattle Trash Map was created

(Seattle Trash Map, Ballard Screenshot - Christopher Rufo)

*Click the picture above to hear the audio from Kirby Wilbur's Afternoon Show with Christopher F. Rufo*

Seattle is getting trashed. Over the past few years, the city has become a dumping ground for millions of pounds of garbage, needles, feces, and biohazardous waste emanating from hundreds of homeless encampments throughout the city.

While anyone who travels through Seattle can see the trash and litter along the roadside, I wanted to understand the scale of the problem with more quantitative rigor. Last month, I sent in a public records request to the city’s Customer Service Bureau for all citizen complaints about trash, needles, tents, feces, and biohazards in 2018. I then analyzed this information and geocoded each complaint to create a data visualization that I call the Seattle Trash Map.

The Seattle Trash Map documents more than 19,000 citizen complaints, ranging from the trivial reports of abandoned appliances to desperate cries from residents who fear for their safety. 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.

The sad reality is Seattle is now on the verge of a full-blown public health crisis. Last year, there was a 400% increase in HIV infections among mostly homeless addicts and prostitutes in the city’s northern corridor. Public health officials are sounding the alarms about the return of medieval diseases like Typhus, tuberculosis, and trench fever. Even the region’s famed mussels and clams have tested positive for opioids that have run through the waterways.

It's time for our city government to return to its most mundane but essential responsibility: taking out the trash.

—Christopher F. Rufo


*Click the picture above to hear the audio from Kirby Wilbur's Afternoon Show with Christopher F. Rufo*

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