It’s time to say a little prayer for the Bike Church, parishioners.
The non-profit bicycle co-op has offered do-it-yourself training workshops and used bike parts for the Davis community for nearly five years. However, due to several breaches in university regulations, Student Housing has evicted the church from its location next to the domes sustainable living area.
“I was really shocked and disappointed,” said co-founder of the church, Chris Congleton. “We were working for three months with the university to improve [our property] and now they just want us to disappear.“
The eviction notice was given to the ministers of the Bike Church last month after members sought to renovate their property in order to comply with university regulations. Student Housing was scheduled to conduct a walk-through inspection on Oct. 1 to decide if those efforts were adequate.
When Student Housing was notified that the church’s property did not meet the campus fire code, they canceled the inspection. When the Bike Church questioned the progress of the inspection, Student Housing sent the eviction notice.
In the notice Chuck Huneke, assistant director of residential education for Student Housing, sited various reasons for the eviction. He wrote that the church did not gain approval from the campus for their main structure, their property contained hazardous materials that made the university liable for any injuries, members used tools without signing waivers and they did not set up an appropriate account for their donations.
“Ultimately, as the Bike Church grew and developed into its own independent entity separate from the Domes, there was not much Student Housing or the Bike Church members could do to keep it on Student Housing property,” Huneke said in an e-mail interview. “If anyone were to get injured or file a lawsuit against the Bike Church, Student Housing would assume the risk. This is not something we are willing to do.“
In response to the eviction, members of the church were offended and even mystified at Student Housing’s decision. Many felt that despite their greatest efforts to be beneficial to the campus, the university was unsupportive.
“We’ve made a lot of sacrifices and put in a lot of work to improve the Bike Church and make it so that there were no hazards on the property,” said Darach Miller, a sophomore biological sciences major and minister at the Bike Church. “I don’t even know what else we could have done to prevent this.“
However, Huneke insists that Student Housing put forth their best efforts to work with the church. At the beginning of the summer, Student Housing sent the Bike Church a list of improvements they needed to make before an Oct. 1 inspection. The real issue, as both Huneke and ministers have said, was in the communication between Student Housing and the church.
“The problem we encountered frequently was that there was no one person or leadership group for Student Housing to contact as issues arose,” Huneke said.
Ministers felt strongly about this issue of communication, saying that Student Housing did not give them a fair chance to improve as well as neglected to provide suggestions on how to fix their liability problems. They also noted some unannounced inspections by the fire department and Student Housing as contributing factors to their dismay.
The Bike Church will not completely disappear after their Dec. 31 scheduled departure from the university property. Though they haven’t found a new location, they are considering coordinating with the city of Davis to find a central location where students and community members can utilize their resources, in addition to solving their liability issues in compliance with the university’s legal obligations.
“We’re working hard to have the university be responsible and help us find a place to serve the community,” Congleton said. “I feel like that place should be where it is now because the domes are an amazing property geared towards sustainability, which is what the university’s mission is.“
Ministers have created a petition for those students and community members who would like to persuade Student Housing to keep the Bike Church on campus. The petition can be accessed at petitiononline.com/SaveDBC1/petition.html.
LAUREN STEUSSY can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org