This past Saturday I was riding my bike on F Street toward downtown, wearing shorts and a T-shirt with the wind at my back, allowing my thoughts to wander aimlessly, and it hit me. It hit me like a wall of bricks.
Only it wasn’t a wall of bricks. It was a pile of branches, bark and miscellaneous shit put directly in the center of the bike lane by some vindictive cocksucker hell-bent on ruining the commute of a cyclist who dared to daydream.
As I fell toward certain humiliation and debilitating bodily harm, flailing my arms like spastic flagella, I had a revelation: Davis is awesome.
If you can get past the occasional imbecile-induced bike folly and the fact that Davis seems to perpetually be in the path of some giant, bipolar tornado, you may come to realize that this city is a great place to live.
I can hear some of you SoCal types protesting, No way! Davis is lame! For one thing, there’s, like, clouds. Plus, there’s no upscale shopping, no 30 screen stadium seating multiplex, no night clubs to do coke at and nowhere to park my dad’s Escalade! Once I graduate I’m moving to Hollywood to be a fashion consultant for E! And I’m fine with that, because I don’t want you here either. In fact, Davis is quite un-lame for those and other more meaningful reasons.
Chief among them: Davis is what happens when people have jobs; the average household brings in $82,000 a year, and only 3.3 percent of the population is unemployed.
But wait! you scream, In 1999, 24.5 percent of Davis residents were living below the poverty line! This is unfortunately true. But consider that poverty level earnings in Davis have very different implications than the same sums in, say, Fresno.
The resources available in Davis to the public for free or at low cost are incredible, and the way tax dollars are used here makes Davis an exceptional example of public spending done right. So even if you’re living paycheck to paycheck, your life, while still shitty, is made a bit less so by, * gasp *, government intervention in the market and spending on social welfare! The horror!
Davis eases the pain of its poorest citizens in many ways, and housing, the largest portion of nearly all low income budgets, is where the city provides the most help. In rental projects with 20 or more units, 35 percent are required to be affordable, which means that a family of four making $32,850 annually pays a maximum of $636 per month for a two bedroom unit. That leaves over $25,000 a year for everything else.
A large portion of that $25,000 would normally go toward transportation, but in Davis, that need not be so. Huge savings are to be had by using public transit such as Unitrans, Amtrack or Yolobus rather than buying (think high interest rate auto loan), maintaining (insurance, smog and price gouging mechanic) and fueling a car (record profits for ExxonMobile). And then there’s cycling. At just six miles in length, everything in Davis is within biking distance. If you disagree, I would posit that you are either fat, intensely lazy or don’t own a bike. In any of those cases, getting a bike will help solve the problem.
Speaking of recreation, if you want to barbeque, you don’t need to buy your own Weber. If you want to play football, you don’t need a big-ass lawn. All you need is to walk to one of Davis’s 32 parks (not counting the greenbelt), which also have Frisbee golf, soccer, tennis, basketball, baseball, skate parks, pools, playgrounds and enough picnic tables to seat a reunion of my ex-girlfriends.
Speaking of my ex-girlfriends, crime is a big factor in residents’ quality of life, and Davis does that right, too. Davis has only 0.9 officers per 1,000 people (the national average is 3.0), yet manages to have a much lower incidence of crime than the rest of the country.
And as for education, of the 947 AP tests taken in 2007 by students at Davis High (a school of only 1,694), 83 percent of the scores were passing.
What all this meant to me as I was picking myself up off the asphalt, dislodging the safety glass from my palms and the twigs from my spokes, was that Davis, for all its faults, is a pretty good place to be.
K.C. CODY bolds important words, and is pissed at whoever put their yardwaste in the southbound bike lane on F Street. Grow apair and fess up at firstname.lastname@example.org.