It may seem like a long time until Picnic Day, but for those working on the event, it feels like the day is right around the corner.
Because of problems associated with Picnic Day 2010, groups throughout the city have become interested in making the day safer. There were 37 arrests last year, more than double the average of previous years.
At the Dec. 14 Davis City Council meeting, the council approved of encouraging more family friendly activities and more stringent punishment of students by Student Judicial Affairs (SJA).
There was also a group created to address the issues associated with last year’s Picnic Day. The Picnic Day Working Group (PDWG) began meeting last spring and is comprised of representatives from the City of Davis, Davis Police Department, Davis Chamber of Commerce, Davis Downtown Business Association (DDBA) and UC Davis Police.
The DDBA, along with the Chamber, was put in charge of working on a covenant that would address one of the major problems with the day: excessive binge drinking.
The Picnic Day Community Covenant would be available for those in hotels, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, social clubs and recreation facilities to sign stating that on Picnic Day weekend they would agree to refrain from selling or serving alcoholic beverages before 11 a.m.
Participating businesses also would refrain from using price promotions on alcohol that encourage over-consumption. Other stipulations include agreeing to provide low alcohol and alcohol-free beverages, priced competitively with alcoholic beverages and other actions that would help reduce drinking.
Christi Skibbins, executive director of the Chamber, said the goal of the covenant, which will probably be available for signatures at the end of the January, is for all businesses in the area to sign and abide by its articles. There are currently no participating businesses.
“The over-consumption of alcohol was at the root of the majority of problems that day,” Skibbins said. “All of us involved want to see Picnic Day continue, and it is agreed that it cannot if there is a repeat of the events that occurred last year.”
“We are also hopeful that the businesses who offer alcohol will encourage each other to join the effort, and that their patrons will take notice of who participated and who did not, and respond with their wallets when next choosing a place to enjoy an alcoholic beverage,” she said.
UC Davis Director of Local Government Relations Gary Sandy said in addition to the covenant, the board wants to establish a Picnic Day zone downtown, in which fines for violations would double or triple.
“I hope students would control themselves to protect the school’s reputation,” Sandy said. “We’re also trying to reduce the size and scope of Picnic Day because it’s been increasingly difficult to manage.”
Megan Hanson, senior communication major and publicity director for the Picnic Day Board of Directors, said the PDWG is holding forums to address concerns.
“We’re attempting to create some sort of order to the mayhem,” Hanson said. “We’re hoping new communication will help create a safe environment to make it more enjoyable.”
ANGELA SWARTZ can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.