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Improvements Along Blighted Nave Drive

Frontage road along Highway 101 has gotten some much needed attention over the past month.

If there’s one freebie that I’ve gleaned from watching late-night Tony Robbins infomercials, it’s that you can make changes simply but turning your attention to a problem. I guess that’s what I was thinking when I turned my attention to the blight on Nave Drive about a month ago.

I think that Robbins theory works best if it’s backed up with action steps, so in addition to writing the , I followed up with:

  1. One e-mail conversation with the city's public works director
  2. Two online requests to Caltrans for sound wall improvements
  3. One voice mail message to a property owner about high weeds
  4. One e-mail to the wrong organization about the donation box cleanup
  5. One e-mail to Ignacio Rotary asking for cleanup crew help
  6. One e-mail to the right organization about the donation box cleanup 
  7. One meeting with a community leader to discuss strategy
  8. Gathered names from people who said they were willing to help
  9. A personal contact with a service organization

There were 7 out of 9 positive results.  Connections were made. Changes happened that made me optimistic that the street is now on everyone’s radar.

High weeds were cut down all along Nave Drive and in the medians. Weed killer was sprayed along the soundwall. It was not exactly was I was expecting — I was hoping for an old-fashioned hand-weeding team, so the litter cleanup crew that I was trying to recruit was put on hold.

Caltrans also trimmed overhanging trees and shrubs on the highway side of the frontage road.

The city’s crews braved the only hot days we had this summer and weed-whipped around the bus stops, then started tackling the weeds along the sidewalk on the way up to Ignacio Boulevard. It was something I hadn’t thought of asking for until Phase 2 of the project.

The organization that had a donation drop-off box on Nave was asked to clean around its site. It just didn’t happen. Alternative locations were suggested, but in the end I believe their permission was withdrawn to locate the box on the frontage road.

Well, Nave Drive still doesn’t look like a comparable frontage road in tony Walnut Creek, and I've decided to try to stop comparing it to the lovely walking path on Ignacio Boulevard. But if you don't look too closely at the litter, you can see that Nave Drive is improving.

I started thinking that maybe Phase 1 was too easy and so Phase 2 of the “Nave Drive Blight Project” is a test. My hypothesis: Does a bigger request require a bigger effort? 

Should I ask the Shell gas station to put landscaping in their weedy planter beds to match the beautifully maintained  across the street? How do we get more ivy planted along the bare sections of the sound wall? Are sidewalks in front of the school too much to hope for?

I'm open to advice on the next steps.

Sylvia Barry August 31, 2011 at 01:30 AM
Thank you, Tracy, for what you did to improve Nave Drive. I went back to your original post and was impressed that you noticed the problem, stated the problem, asked for help, put into action and got it done (maybe not 100% as you would have liked but what a huge difference you and your friends made!) This, is the way to show others what Novato really is and who Novatans really are! Thanks again!
Jerome J Ghigliotti Jr August 31, 2011 at 12:06 PM
Congratulations, Tracy, THAT is the Novato spirit!
Kolleen Pahland August 31, 2011 at 03:27 PM
Please add me to your list of clean up crew help. I live and breathe Hamilton and my family and our den pack would love to help assist beautifying our community.
Sylvia Barry August 31, 2011 at 04:06 PM
What a great idea, Kolleen, to get the boy scouts involved. I live in the San Marin area. A boy scout took the median in front of Fireman's Fund as his Eagle Project and he did an outstanding job to beautify that strip of median coming into San Marin. Every time I drive through that area, I thought of that boy scout and what he did to help the community. I am sure many others do too!
Tracey Ruiz August 31, 2011 at 04:11 PM
Thanks Kolleen, You are the first service club to offer some assistance. Some parts of Nave would need a whole flock of Eagle Scouts. When we get a cleanup date I will post the information.
Judy Montoya August 31, 2011 at 05:37 PM
I always wondered who did the beautiful job on San Marin. I look forward to seeing in on my daily commute to the Buck Institute! This is a perfect type of community service project for my Indian Valley 4-H Club. Thank you!
Laura Tufo McElroy August 31, 2011 at 06:05 PM
This is awesome, thank you! We just moved to Novato and live in Hamilton. Nave is pretty dreary compared to most of lovely Novato. Our family would like to be a part of any future plans. I may also be able to organize some of our older homeschoolers in Novato to help out in any further beautification projects.
Marie Hoch August 31, 2011 at 06:36 PM
Tracey, Your results are also a testamonial to the "Power of the Patch". Before the Patch where would you have posted your blog so everyone could see and help? You could have sent individual emails but they would not have been as effective.
Alan Monasch August 31, 2011 at 07:32 PM
Tracey, I walk on Nave between Bolling Cirlcle and Safeway, and I do indeed notice the difference you've made! Thank you for taking action on something I was sure was too small to get any attention at all.
SHROYER FOR SUPERVISOR 2014 September 01, 2011 at 05:43 AM
Tracey, This is fantastic work! Thank you! Planning Commissioner, Tom James, has almost single handedly abated much of the graffiti and gang graffiti around town on private property (the city will abate public property). We see much less graffiti than we have before thanks to him. One person can make a difference! Keep up the good work! If you need me to put some garbage in my pick up truck to haul away, I am happy to do that. Meanwhile I will be with Tom painting over gang graffiti, collecting pennies for our police dogs narcotic training and volunteering at our public schools. Fantastic Tracey! Great article! Hats off to you!
Tracey Ruiz September 01, 2011 at 06:36 AM
The city's maintenance staff and Caltrans did all the hard work. The property owners just needed to be made aware. Sometimes we become blind to a problem that we see everyday or it looks too overwhelming to tackle. As a community, we need to show we care. I'm looking forward to the volunteer crew that will support the litter cleanup and vine planting.
Tracey Ruiz September 01, 2011 at 06:36 AM
Alan, I'm glad that someone who walks that route regularly noticed the difference.
Robert Atkinson September 05, 2011 at 05:28 AM
Tracy....congrats on the wonderful results from your efforts. More of us should get involved in this manner and you've got me wondering what can be done to clean up Rowland between 101 and the Vintage Oaks shopping Center in Novato, the weeds are beyond control. It seems like a little effort by the businesses, the City and Caltrans would solve this mess too.

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