Seattle is “recalibrating” how much it can snoop into your garbage after the enforcement of its trash-check ordinance was ruled unconstitutional.
The city of Seattle says it is “recalibrating” how much it can snoop into your garbage.
This was after King County Superior Court Judge Beth Andrus on Wednesday ruled “unconstitutional and void” the enforcement of the ordinance allowing garbage collectors to look through people’s trash to make sure it doesn’t contain too many food scraps.
Andy Ryan, spokesman for Seattle Public Utilities, says the agency hasn’t decided whether to appeal the decision.
But meanwhile, “we’re in full compliance of the judge’s order,” meaning zero snooping for now.
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The lawsuit was filed on behalf of eight Seattle residents by the Pacific Legal Foundation. It describes itself as a watchdog that litigates for “limited government, property rights, and individual rights.”
The judge said it’s fine for Seattle to ban food waste and compostable paper from residential garbage cans. Her skepticism was the violation of ’ privacy rights “by authorizing warrantless searches.”
A rule issued by Ray Hoffman, director of Seattle Public Utilities, allowed garbage collectors to tag cans containing “significant amounts” of food waste, which he defined as more than 10 percent by volume.
“It wasn’t a precise thing by any means,” Ryan says. “The inspectors were eyeballing cans for visual signs like chicken parts. If it led them to believe it was more than 10 percent of content, he’d leave a note.”
The ordinance said that starting in January 2015, residents not complying would be fined $1 for single-family homes and $50 for businesses and multifamily dwellings. The city didn’t call them fines but a “collection fee.”
Because cooperation was so widespread, Mayor Ed Murray had postponed the fines.