On Feb. 26, the Downtown Davis Business Association held a public forum to discuss downtown nightlife and some of its issues, most of which are alcohol-related.
Community members, ASUCD representatives, business owners and the Davis Police Department attended the meeting.
The meeting was initiated by Judith MacBrine, a facilitator of the neighborhood court.
“The focus of neighborhood court is restorative as opposed to punitive,” MacBrine said during her presentation.
The issue at hand, as outlined by MacBrine, is downtown alcohol abuse and misuse, which takes the form of public drunkenness, public urination, battery and possession of an open container of alcohol.
Some of the concerns listed by the participants of the forum included the distribution of alcohol, the increase of signage for restrooms, college parties in residential areas, deeper mental health issues and property damage.
“What’s really nice about Davis is that all of the bar scene is really contained within a few blocks, so if any rowdiness is occurring it would be within small parameters,” said Allison Kopas, a third-year communication major. She added that she believes that this would hopefully make the nightlife less of an annoyance to the local community.
“As [a] community, we all have a part in this and this isn’t happening just because people like to get drunk on the weekends and it’s not just their issue, there are a lot of issues for many different players as to why this is happening,” MacBrine said.
Some examples that MacBrine said she has seen range from a woman misplacing her panties to someone walking on the train tracks, falling and subsequently getting rocks in her orifices.
MacBrine went out driving on the evening of Feb. 22 to see some of the downtown nightlife in action. What she witnessed were crowds around bar entrances, making entry impossible, to which she attributed much of the public urination. She said that if people can’t reach the restrooms they are going to take to the streets.
“There is the possibility of renaming G Street to Pee Street because there is primarily where we see most of the public urination,” MacBrine said.
MacBrine said some of the primary causes are the student’s desire for experimentation, bonding experience, the cultural standard of “getting wasted” at 21, preloading at home, binge drinking and a fad of blacking out.
Some of the solutions the participants identified were a focus on a multi-generational downtown, easy access to food and water, education, working with ASUCD and a Davis Bouncer school.
“If we [are] able to bring the stakeholders together and continue this conversation I think it’s really going to benefit the downtown as a whole,” said Stewart Savage, executive director of downtown Davis.
Savage sees data collection and greater participation in future forums as the next steps for the community.
“The hardest part is trying to come up with solutions with only a few people in the room — if we were to get more people involved we [would] have a greater idea for success,” Savage said.
According to Savage, the downtown bars and restaurants are very participatory and work closely with law enforcement to ensure things don’t get out of hand.
“It’s a community problem; we all need to come together to figure out the solutions. It requires cooperation from many groups in the community,” said Ton Phan, police lieutenant for the patrol division for the Davis Police Department (DPD).
Moving forward, Phan said that the DPD will be holding meetings to discuss how to better handle drunkenness and to research what other cities are doing to deal with similar issues.
“I think people think we have 10 to 20 police officers on the street, and that’s not so. We have anywhere between four and eight on a busy night and it takes a couple big fights and our resources are drained,” Phan said.
This is an issue because it takes officers away from other problems happening around the city.
Phan said that the forum was a good start to solving the many issues of downtown. Savage said that he thinks that this problem isn’t unique to Davis.
“When people drink, problems occur, and we see what we can do about preventing those problems,” Savage said.