Enforcement Cameras

Illegal dumping is a major problem in Seattle. Not only is it unsightly, but it also creates health and safety hazards, burdens property owners and taxpayers with cleanup costs, and is against the law. In 2022, the City of Seattle spent more than $1.7 million addressing illegal dumping and collecting more than 1.9 million pounds of waste. It's time to take action to reduce illegal dumping.

To address this issue, Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) Clean City has launched the Illegal Dumping Camera Pilot. The pilot aims to reduce frequent illegal dumping in selected locations by both deterring illegal dumping and supporting investigations. The technology is activated by onsite motion. After a 30-second pause, it plays a deterrence message. If motion continues, the camera captures images of the individuals and/or vehicles for investigation. 

SPU’s Clean City Enforcement Manager reviews all images in accordance with SMC 21.26. After SPU reviews the images and finds the people responsible for illegal dumping, SPU will reach out and inform them about the violation and find a resolution. The resolution could look like cleaning fees charge, violation fees, or community service. The pilot is expected to reduce illegal dumping in Seattle, improve the community's quality of life, and decrease associated costs to the city. 

We're committed to protecting the privacy of our community. That's why photos not related to illegal dumping activities will be deleted, and individuals who are not directly involved with illegal dumping activities will be redacted from the photo. 

The cameras will operate on City-owned high-frequency parcels with a high-level impact of illegal dumping. The first camera will be in West Seattle.

The camera will be used as a tool to ensure that communities intentionally targeted by illegal dumpers are protected. We're committed to educating our communities and neighborhoods on littering and illegal dumping, how to report littering and illegal dumping activities in their neighborhoods and ensuring that people eligible for "free transfer station passes" have easy access to obtain the pass. SPU is committed to providing resources to the community to ensure everyone has access to dispose of their waste at the appropriate site.

Let's work together to keep Seattle clean and safe for all. Please report illegal dumping using the Find It, Fix It mobile app. You can also call (206) 684-7587 to report problems on public property. For language interpretation, call (206) 684-3000

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

The 7100 Block of Detroit AVE SW.

The camera will be used to protect our underserved communities from intentional illegal dumpers targeting these areas to continue illegal dumping activities. Businesses in the area may hear a voice stating, "Stop; you are in an area that is being monitored for illegal dumping. After this warning, we will begin to photograph your activities."  

If the Pilot is successful, there will be little to no illegal dumping in the selected site. We'll see a cleaner and safer neighborhood.   

The camera will be installed on March 2, 2023, and it will be fully operational on the morning of March 3.  


Up to one (1) year or longer. The camera is movable and aims to decrease illegal dumping at the site. Once there is no more illicit activity, the camera will be moved to another illegal dumping site in the City of Seattle. 


If the Pilot is successful:  

  • Decreases in illegal dumping will provide a cleaner and safer neighborhood. 
  • Discourage litter and illegal dumping throughout the City of Seattle. It is known that illegal dumping and laws are not enforced, and it has become a common practice. We've found that our illegal dumping signs are being ignored and have become the perfect place for an individual to continuously illicit debris dump next to the illegal dumping signs.  
  • Two cameras will be placed in each council district's illegal dumping hot spots.  


Images from the camera will be downloaded three times a week for the first three months and will be re-evaluated. The number of potential illegal dumping occurrences will be posted on our illicit camera dumping website.


The deterrence feature allows the individual to not continue with the act of illegal dumping. No 3rd party vendor reviews the photos obtained. 


No, the cameras will not be monitored 24/7 by SPU staff. The cameras will be activated 24/7 and triggered by motion.


Data is collected only when the cameras are activated. Photos will be viewed only by SPU personnel and accessible to the Illegal dumping team. In some cases, some photographs may be shared with appropriate law enforcement to enforce fines as required. 

Photos will be transferred from the camera to a held surface/iPad type into a secured City drive file. The photograph will be immediately deleted if the camera does not capture an illegal dumping violation. The footage might be shared with law enforcement or the City's hearing examiner if a violation was captured.


All photos not related to illegal dumping or other criminal offensive activity will be deleted once reviewed by the illegal dumping inspector. Deletion of photos occurs in accordance with the Department's retention schedule and at the device level. Persons and vehicles not involved with the illegal dumping activity will be redacted, covered, or cropped out of the photo.   


SPU Illegal Dumping will collect and manage all the data generated by the camera system. There is no 3rd party vendor that will review the photos. This technology collects no information from other sources. Information will be stored on a City of Seattle secure drive file. 


Yes! After consultation with other local governments, we found that there has been a lot of success in illegal dumping deterrence where cameras were used. The following cities use cameras:

  • Chicago (PDF) reports having successfully used cameras to identify vehicles used for illegal dumping.
  • Oakland has cameras that allow the Litter Enforcement Officer (LEO) to review recent footage and observe real-time activity from the LEO's office desk. The camera can view day and night footage and zoom in from as far as one block away, allowing clear views of a license plate and general descriptions of individuals. 
  • In Phoenix (PDF), the Environmental Specialists surveillance illegal dumping "hot spots," and in-progress events are called in directly to the police.  

Items can be dropped off for a fee at SPU Transfer Stations.


The Utility Discount Program (UDP) provides bill assistance for income-eligible customers. Utility Discount Program participants may receive free transfer station passes up to twice each year.

Contact us! Email Tracy.Cramer@Seattle.gov or call (206) 684-5813.  


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.