Reinette Senum: Nevada City’s inaugural ‘Spring Madness’ a success |

Reinette Senum: Nevada City’s inaugural ‘Spring Madness’ a success

Reinette Senum
John Hart/ | The Union

Last week Nevada City successfully launched its first spring-cleaning called “Spring Madness Hits Nevada City.” The three-day event proved to be an empowering exercise in community.

The need for the citywide cleaning arose out of an ad hoc community group that includes Nevada City merchants, the Nevada City Police Department, the Nevada City Chamber of Commerce and homeless and community advocates, including myself. The group has been meeting for over a year so as to address issues we see throughout Nevada City, such as vandalism, homelessness, and general activity on the streets.

Concern had been growing over the rise of graffiti appearing throughout town in spite of the Public Works department and community members’ attempts to regularly repaint and remove the tagged areas. After months of discussion by group members, it became apparent that the graffiti would continue and most likely grow in numbers if the city’s general direction wasn’t reversed. Fortunately, members in our committed group were already familiar with the “Broken Window Theory.”

As described by one of the lead spring-cleaning organizers, Nevada City’s Police Chief Tim Foley, “It has been proven that if a building has broken windows that are not repaired, more broken windows will follow.” Foley added, “This will soon lead to vandalism of the building and an overall deterioration of a neighborhood because it looks like people just don’t care.“

“Originally a lot of our customers didn’t know what to think before the cleaning began but now that it has, they get it. It was a hit, I’m telling you!”Rita FuenzalidaJava John’s owner

So, using the “broken window theory” as a model, our group began organizing a massive cleaning, painting and overall freshening of downtown Nevada City to change its course.

Last week, Tuesday through Thursday, more than 175 amazing volunteers came out for the event and began washing down the historic storefronts and sidewalks the first day, focusing on the 10-block downtown area. Volunteers followed up the next two days repairing and painting storefronts, gas lamps, and street curbs and, of course, graffiti and sticker removal.

The Nevada City Fire Department repainted their fire hydrants and historic fire alarm boxes while the Nevada City Police Department and other volunteers took on Spring Street, National Hotel parking lot, and a majority of Nevada City’s gas lamps; while Public Works provided tools, paint, and supportive services.

Volunteers also came from the City Planning Department, Sierra Roots, Nevada City Chamber of Commerce, League of Women Voters, Hour Nevada County members, residents — with and without houses — employees, business owners, Youth Build, AIM. Nevada City Councilmembers Evans Phelps and Robert Bergman participated with Phelps tackling a complete makeover of The Alexander Gallery (formerly Mowen Solinsky Gallery).

Pioneer and Calanan parks were cleaned, pruned, repaired and painted while Nevada City Rotary took on Deer Creek, removing an immense amount of debris and garbage from the local waterway.

Java John’s owner Rita Fuenzalida participated by strolling through the streets with free coffee for volunteers.

“The spring cleaning was a great idea and handing out coffee was the least Java John’s could do,” Fuenzalida said. “Originally a lot of our customers didn’t know what to think before the cleaning began but now that it has, they get it. It was a hit, I’m telling you!”

The three-day spring-cleaning, however, is simply phase one of a larger program. Phase two will include identifying zones throughout Nevada City for Adopt a Block, Adopt a Trail, and Adopt a Waterway programs.

Modeling the Adopt a Highway program, community members and businesses will be encouraged to adopt a specific region of Nevada City so as to monitor for graffiti, vandalism, and maintenance, etc. If interested in taking on one of the areas in the Adopt a Block, Trail, or Waterway, contact Police Chief Tim Foley at

In the meantime, diehard volunteers who have decided to finish a few of the remaining curbs and gas lamps have added a follow-up spring cleaning 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday. Check-in and staging area will once again take place in the Chinese Parking Lot next to HAALo, 412 Commercial St. Though this is a scaled back version of last week’s spring cleaning, we encourage those who missed out in the mid-week event to jump in this Saturday for the remainder of the work. Bring your paint clothes and preferred brush and roller if you have one. Contact me for more information at

Huge kudos go out to Police Chief Foley, Officer Shane Franssen, and Vern Taylor of Public Works, Richard Thomas, Jim Morris, Janice O’Brien, Knights Paint, The Food Bank of Nevada County, SOAP for their incredible biodegradable soap, Susan Molloy, Cindy Crockett, and each and every one of the volunteers!

Nevada City’s Spring Madness was a huge success because of the many hands at work!

Reinette Senum, who lives in Nevada City, is a member of the The Union Editorial Board. Her opinion is her own and does not represent The Union or its editorial board.

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Good Job


I guess I am getting old and grumpy. What is with the “good job” expression being so commonly used in very unexpected settings?

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