Workshop aims to get community involved in planning of downtown
From April 24 to 27, the Davis Downtown Plan Advisory Committee held a participatory workshop where members of the Davis community had the opportunity to give their input on the future of downtown Davis. For four days, the DPAC was stationed in the Davis Community Church, where Davis residents could walk in and look at the current plans for the future of downtown.
The DPAC is one of the branches of Davis’ Core Area Specific Plan, also known as the Downtown Davis Plan. The committee was hired by the city of Davis to rewrite the zoning regulations. According to Daniel Parolek, a DPAC civil designer, DPAC has been spending the past four to five months working on an existing conditions report to fully understand the current state of downtown. This team includes an economist, a transportation engineer, a parking consultant and many specialists.
While there have been smaller pop-up design workshops in the past, this is DPAC’s first multi-day event. The workshop began with an opening presentation on Tuesday night. Open studios were held from Wednesday through Friday along with brown bag lunches for specific topics. The event concluded with a closing presentation on Saturday evening.
The past mini pop-up workshops have been at locations with a specific demographic: local high schools, UC Davis, downtown. But this workshop, Parolek explains, was meant for the whole community.
“Our outreach consultant has done a really great job of trying to reach out to as many different segments of the population as possible,” Paroleck said. “We’re really trying to make sure that we hear all of the voices — including the students and the younger population — so we’ve made a pretty large effort to do that.”
Parolek and DPAC are also hoping to strengthen the relationships between downtown and the students at UC Davis. However, they are also trying to accomodate the Davis residents that don’t have any connection to the university.
“There are a lot of people in our community that aren’t students that want types of activities for them as well, so I think that it’s actually a great thing for downtown to be able to serve both the students and the rest of the community,” Parolek said.
According to Davis resident Alison Kent, the open house and workshop was a great place to express one’s opinions on getting involved in the transformation of downtown. And since the workshop was a multi-day event, it fit most people’s schedules. Kent has lived in Davis for 20 years and hopes for renovations in some of the less-known or vacated areas in downtown. Additionally, she wants to see more areas catered to pedestrians and bikers.
“What I’m hoping will happen is that there are more pedestrian bike-only spaces — it’s a really nice blend between the university and town,” Kent said. “It’s a good interface space.”
Alan Hollander, another Davis resident, has similar feelings. He expressed his hope for a more centralized downtown area rather than having areas of interest primarily on the edges of downtown.
“It’s a good downtown in terms of interests and activities, and there’s reason to go downtown, but I kind of feel that it suffers from sort of a periphery problem,” Hollander said. “There’s not really a core of a core for downtown — like the arboretum area [is] pretty nice, but that’s still peripheral to the downtown.”
Another workshop will be held in July that will focus on transitions from downtown into the residential areas. Afterwards, DPAC will analyze the data it has collected and create a final proposal that it will present to City Hall in late 2019 or early 2020.
“Having community input is a really important part of all of the plans we create,” Parolek said. “We work with the city for this multi-day participatory workshop. We found that this multi-day design charrette process is the most effective way to engage the community members to get their input and actually begin to draw and illustrate what some of their ideas might mean.”
Written by: Hannan Waliullah — firstname.lastname@example.org