Davis has always been thought of as a small town, both by its residents and by those in surrounding communities. But have big-city problems begun to encroach on the town? And if so, what can be done to counter these emerging challenges?
The discussion of the impact public drunkenness in downtown Davis was the focus of Wednesday afternoon’s brown-bag lunch hosted by Davis Downtown in the conference room of River City Bank on E Street.
The gathering — which consisted of a presentation followed by an open dialogue — was led by longtime Davis resident Judith McBrine. a facilitator in the Davis Neighborhood Court Program, a restorative justice initiative started by the Yolo County District Attorney’s office last June.
Titled “Beginning the Discussion About Alcohol Misuse and Abuse,” McBrine’s presentation addressed the effects Davis’ nightlife is having on both the downtown area and the community as a whole.
Examples such as underage drinking, public urination, vandalism and unsafe behavior were often cited as consequences of the town’s increasingly active club scene.
“What is the Davis community’s standard for alcohol, and what kind of downtown do we want?” McBrine asked.
Sharing both her personal accounts as a Davis resident and professional accounts of working with the Neighborhood Court program, McBrine advocated for public awareness and involvement before any action is attempted.
“There’s no intention to solve this problem today,” she added quickly. “No intention to have the right answer.
“This is a system issue. No one person is the sole cause, and no one person is going to be the sole answer.”
The discussion was attended by representatives from several downtown Davis businesses — including Froggy’s, Fleet Feet and de Vere’s Irish Pub — as well as representatives from the Davis Police Department and Davis Board of Education along with UC Davis students and community members.
Following McBrine’s presentation, a “dynamic facilitation” — an open discussion of possible concerns and solutions — took place. As expected, there were different opinions on the issue.
The problem of public urination was brought up several times by downtown business owners, who cited a lack of restrooms open to the public at night. Bar owners also brought up “pre-gaming” — drinking before going to the bars — as an issue, especially when patrons are refused entry to bars for being overly intoxicated.
Many other points — such as strains on the Davis police force, an influx of visitors, the lack of 18-and-over nighttime venues and challenges faced in neighborhoods surrounding downtown — were brought up, along with a number of potential solutions and opportunities.
For more information on the Davis Neighborhood Court Program, visit http://yoloda.org/neighborhoodcourt.htm.