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Davis, California

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Davis defined by college-town atmosphere

Few towns qualify as quirky, cute, charming, boring and elitist.

But walk around town, or go anywhere in Northern California, and these are the words people use to describe the city of Davis.

The town is quirky because of the uncommon laws, such as the noise ordinance that has resulted in citations for snoring too loudly. It’s charming because of the tree-lined avenues of Downtown Davis. It’s boring, because, well, it’s a small town. And it’s elitist because its residents are some of the most well-educated in the country.

More than anything, though, Davis is what it is because it’s a college town, one of the few remaining in California. The character of the town has been heavily influenced by its association with the university, and it has grown and developed just as the campus has.

One of the most defining characteristics of Davis is community involvement.

Earlier this year, when dozens of school teachers and librarians were told they may lose their jobs due to budget cuts, parents rallied together and raised money to prevent the layoffs.

“This community has a long history of supporting its children and its schools,” said Davis Joint Unified School District trustee Tim Taylor. “Anything else would have been a surprise.”

Trustee Susan Lovenburg said education is a strongly held community value.

“This is a community that values education, but I am always gratified when people are prepared to personally sacrifice for that which they hold dear,” Lovenburg said in an email.

The community involvement goes beyond just supporting education, though. City Council meetings frequently have large audiences, and sometimes the line of citizens who wish to speak is so large that meetings stretch past midnight.

An example of an issue discussed in City Council meetings is Measure J, a law that requires a vote of the citizens before any new development can be built on the agricultural land surrounding the city.

At a City Council candidates’ forum earlier this year, all six candidates expressed support for the concept behind the law.

“We need to protect the people’s right to determine the future of our city,” said candidate Cecilia Escamilla-Greenwald at the forum.

Measure J also reflects the environmentalism that plays a role in many of the decision the city and community make. City Council meetings frequently include long discussions about how to make the city greener, and the city has even created a Climate Action Team to help determine how to reduce emissions across the city.

City councilmembers Stephen Souza and Sue Greenwald have been staunch advocates of expanding the use of solar energy in new homes and in power plants.

“The time is now ripe to continue to expand solar production,” Greenwald said at a council meeting in April.

Of course, students make up a large part of the town’s inhabitants. With a city population of just over 60,000 and a student population at UC Davis of just over 30,000, it’s not difficult to see the impact students have on the community.

In acknowledgment of this relationship, the city has several commissions with student members, such as the City-UCD Student Liaison Commission and the Unitrans Advisory Committee.

As UC Davis prepares to celebrate 100 years of service, the character of the town and the university will be in the spotlight as businesses, government leaders, and community members celebrate the contributions of the university to the community as a whole.

JEREMY OGUL can be reached at features@californiaaggie.com.


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