The weather is warmer and Easter is around the corner: It’s time to make ready for Picnic Day.
For the city, UC Davis and businesses that means different things due to the changing nature of Picnic Day as what city staff have called the “Mardi Gras Mentality” sets in.
Prior to 2011, an unruly atmosphere later in the day and during the night pushed the city, community and Davis Police Department to think up new ways to ensure alcohol-fueled crimes were kept to a minimum in the city’s downtown.
The city followed in its footsteps the last three years by again enacting the Safety Enhancement Zone that covers downtown and an area north of the university east of Anderson Road on Picnic Day weekend.
Inside the heavily patrolled zone, police can give tickets with twice the fine for five commonly broken laws on Picnic Day — minors in possession, open containers, public urination, noise and smoking.
Even still, the police presence and threat of stiff fines is only one aspect of getting ready for the day. Local business organizations like Davis Downtown partner with city staff to ensure businesses sign one of two types of covenants, a kind of promise bound by social pressure not to engage in actions such as on-premise alcohol sales before a specific time or, in the case of off-premise sale supermarket-like businesses, not to overtly advertise alcohol in local price promotions.
Combined, the covenants and the zone have reduced the alcohol-fueled atmosphere from a criminal perspective from years prior to 2011, but a February staff report written by Police Chief Landy Black and Kelly Stachowicz, the deputy city manager, indicated that more monitoring is needed:
“While there is a general sense that students and community members have felt ‘safer’ in the downtown area in the past few years, arrest and citation data would suggest we continue to have work to do to ensure Picnic Day is a safe and good experience.”
In 2013, 83 citations were issued for the enhanced violations common in the zone, 64 of them were located inside the zone and all but one was issued on Picnic Day.
In 2012, 72 citations were issued for the five enhanced zone offenses, with 44 occurring outside the zone.
In 2011, police arrested 54 people and doled out 207 citations for various offenses.
Businesses — of the roughly 100 that sell alcohol in Davis — that have signed the covenant as of Thursday afternoon:
Applebees; ARCO AM/PM (Russell Blvd)*; Cindy’s Kow Thai; Circle K*; Davis Food Coop*; Delta of Venus; Dos Coyotes Marketplace; Dos Coyotes Oakshade; Farmer’s Wife/Little Prague; Hallmark Inn; Jack’s Urban Eats; Jade Garden; Krush Burger; Lamppost Pizza; Mikuni; Nugget Market, Covell Boulevard*; Nugget Market, Mace Boulevard*; Plutos; Quick Shop Market (Eighth)*; Red 88 Noodle Bar; Sodexho and University Dining Service: Sophia’s Thai Kitchen; Sudwerk Restaurant and Brewery; Taqueria Davis; Thai Canteen; Thai Recipes; Uncle Vito’s; University of Beer; Westlake Market*; Whole Foods*; Wok of Flame; Zen Toro Japanese Bistro and Sushi Bar; Original Steve’s Pizza.
* Off-sale license covenant
The covenant is entirely voluntary, but has the same effect on businesses like bars, mini-marts, and restaurants: curtailing over-the-top promotions of alcohol at unusual times. Bars and restaurants agree not to sell alcohol before 11 a.m. on Picnic Day weekend and to essentially comply with their ABC regulations.
— Reach Dave Ryan at 530-747-8057. Follow him on Twitter at @davewritesnews