For many, Saturday mornings in Davis mean a trip to the Davis Farmers Market to sample fruits and vegetables, enjoy flavorful apple juice and chow down on a delicious tamale. Additionally, community members are making visits to the City of Davis’ booth as part of their Saturday routine.
On the second Saturday of every month, the City Hall booth features a city department, along with two city council members who are available to speak with the community.
“The booth is a way for us to come to where the public is, rather than expecting the public to come to us,” said Deputy City Manager Kelly Stachowicz. “Hopefully it achieves that purpose.”
According to Stachowicz, the booth is a venue where community members can bring their compliments, complaints or concerns and be able to voice them in a manner that isn’t necessarily adversarial, which tends to be the tone of formal City Hall meetings.
“It’s a really diverse set of issues that folks come to us about,” said Davis Mayor Pro Tempore Dan Wolk.
Wolk said he feels that the booth is a very valuable thing to have, allowing community members to interact with City Hall at an event that has become a Davis tradition.
“It’s one thing to get a three-minute public comment [at a city council meeting], it’s quite another to have that person interacting with you at the farmers market in a much more relaxed atmosphere,” Wolk said.
According to Executive Director of the Davis Farmers Market Randii MacNear, the Davis Farmers Market is a natural place for the city to do outreach and interact with the market’s 7,000 visitors every Saturday. In addition to community outreach, the booth shows City Hall’s support of the Davis Farmers Market.
“We do have a remarkable partnership [with the city] that is very unique of any of the 850 farmers markets in the state of California,” MacNear said. “Our city really puts themselves behind the farmers market and understands how important it is to the community.”
MacNear said she feels that the city’s presence at the market is most effective when there are members at the booth who can take the input from the community back to City Hall and make changes according to that input.
“[The city’s] willingness to come out and talk to people is a big deal; I think that really speaks to who they are and how they care about their citizens,” MacNear said.
Although the city’s booth at the market has been a success, Wolk said he believes that it could be improved. Wolk said he would like to see more outreach from the city’s leadership level to UC Davis.
“It makes me think, being at the [farmers] market, that there’s got to be a better way to reach out to UC Davis students,” Wolk said. “There are things that we need to focus on that are directed at the students themselves.”
Stachowicz said the city’s next step in outreach may be having a monthly booth on the UC Davis Quad on a weekday, allowing students to have direct access to council members and city departments.
City Hall will be at the Davis Farmers Market on March 9, featuring the public works department.
SYDNEY COHEN can be reached at email@example.com.