Jeff Pelline: Catching ‘I.P Freely’ in quainty town |

Jeff Pelline: Catching ‘I.P Freely’ in quainty town

I know it’s springtime because the wildflowers are blooming in Bridgeport. I also know it’s springtime because the vagrants come out – including to my family’s neighborhood of “Painted Ladies” and white-picket fences – to urinate on the sidewalk, no less.

Last week, on the way to work from our home near downtown Nevada City, I saw a man unzip his pants and pee all over the sidewalk. Only a block from our house, it was the same patch of sidewalk where I see children walking to school, young parents pushing strollers – and homes nearby trying to sell for $650,000.

I pulled over. “Excuse me, are you urinating on the sidewalk?” I asked the man. “You got it. F— off,” he shouted back.

My goodness. I didn’t even get a chance to tell him the Chevron gas station down the block had a men’s room. No doubt about it: the homeless population in Nevada City swells when the weather gets warmer. Being a county seat – with a county jail – doesn’t help much either. People who are released from jail sometimes wander into the downtown. Just ask the bartender at the Mine Shaft.

In my case, the Nevada City police officer politely listened to my concerns about peeing on the sidewalk in quainty town. He said he’d go talk to the man.

This is not the first time I’ve written about problems on the thoroughfare going from the liquor store in our neighborhood – I mean Chevron station – to Pioneer Park. The previous day, I saw a rowdy crowd walking along the street with open liquor bottles, another joyful reminder of springtime.

I’m not the only one to complain either. I know downtown merchants have expressed the same frustration about “I. P. Freely,” including at yesterday’s “healing” event, “Co-operating for the Betterment of Nevada City.” (See Laura Brown’s story on page A1).

Beyond the drum beating and playing of wooden xylophones, I hope somebody will take concerns about loitering, public drunkenness and urinating in public – voiced repeatedly by many people – more seriously.

Peeing on the sidewalk is not a civil-rights issue. It is against the law. It also is bad for business, bad for real estate and bad for raising families. Nevada City needs all of this (and a little creativity such as drum beating, I agree) to remain a thriving community – not a cul de sac at the end of the Golden Center Freeway. You cannot keep the city afloat on the sales tax receipts from a gas station/mini-mart.

Besides, with sales taxes going up in Nevada City next month to pay for road repair and more sidewalks (see Soumitro Sen’s story on page A1), we’ll just be creating more cement slabs for pee-pee target practice.


Jeff Pelline is the editor of The Union. His column appears on Saturdays. Contact him at 477-4235,, or 464 Sutton Way, Grass Valley 95945.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Grass Valley and Nevada County make The Union’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User