Clear Alleys Program

The City of Seattle is partnering with local waste collection companies and the downtown customers to reduce the storage of waste containers in the public right-of-way. The City of Seattle's Clear Alleys Program (CAP) aims to:

  • Creating cleaner, safer business districts
  • Reducing the incidence of uncivil behaviors and illegal activities in alleys
  • Increasing the attractiveness of alleys for pedestrian use
  • Allowing better alley access for business services (deliveries) and possible expansion of commercial activity

The Director's Rule (PDF) restricts permanent storage of waste containers in the public right-of-ways of the Downtown, Belltown, Pioneer Square, and Columbia City neighborhoods. Please refer to the program area map for Downtown, Belltown and Pioneer Square (PDF) or International District (PDF). This program affects you if your business or building apartment is in these neighborhoods and you store a dumpster, plastic cart, or any other container in the public right-of-way without a street use permit. If you do not store a container in the public right-of-way or have a street use permit, then this does not affect you directly.

Exemptions from the requirement

There are no exemptions granted for the storage of garbage containers in the public right-of-ways within the designated business. However, collection containers for used cooking oil that meet public and environmental health requirements are categorically exempt. Exemptions may also be granted by SPU for cart containment of the following materials:

  1. Labeled carts (32, 60 or 90 gallon) with tight-fitting lids for source-separated food scraps/food-soiled paper and yard trimmings if no on-site storage on private property is available as verified by the city.
  2. Labeled carts (32, 60 or 90 gallon) for glass if no on-site storage on private property is available as verified by the city.
  3. Labeled carts (32, 60 or 90 gallon) for animal waste if no on-site storage on private property is available as verified by the city.

All customers interested in obtaining an exemption for cart containment of organic waste, glass and animal waste and long-term storage in the public alleys must contact Seattle Public Utilities. The lack of on-site cart storage space on private property will need to be verified. The age of the building will be a factor in whether or not SPU will grant an exemption since all buildings constructed or underwent major remodeling after 2000 were required to be designed with space for recycling and garbage containers.

For exemption information, contact Sally Hulsman of Seattle Public Utilities at (206) 684-4682 or through e-mail at

Pre-paid bag sizes, cost, and limits

Note: Fee is per bag. Prices effective April 1, 2024. The weight limit for the 33-gallon bags is 40 lbs, and the weight limit on the 15-gallon bags is 20 lbs.

Bag Size Fee
15-gallon bag    $5.80
30-gallon bag    $8.20
Monthly Account Fee (commercial)    $32.45
Monthly Account Fee (residential)    $48.25

Ordering pre-paid bags

Contact your garbage collection company directly for bag orders and deliveries.

Excess garbage

For garbage that does not fit into a pre-paid bag, collection tags are available for items weighing less than 60 pounds that cannot fit in a bag. For larger items you can request a special collection. Please contact your collection company.

Additional notes

All containers, including recycling, food waste and grease containers are no longer permanently stored in the public right-of-way under these rules. Customers need to store the materials on private property or use frequent collection services.

Commercial businesses may use any recycling collection company they choose, but no company's containers may be stored in the public right-of-way unless an exemption was obtained by the customer for food scraps, glass, or animal waste after verification by the city that no on-site storage space was available.

For information on how to save money by reducing waste and recycling more, contact the Green Business Program at (206) 343-8505 or


Public Utilities

Andrew Lee, General Manager and CEO
Address: 700 5th Avenue, Suite 4900, Seattle, WA, 98104
Mailing Address: PO Box 34018, Seattle, WA, 98124-5177
Phone: (206) 684-3000

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Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) is comprised of three major direct-service providing utilities: the Water Utility, the Drainage and Wastewater Utility, and the Solid Waste Utility.