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Davis, California

Saturday, July 31, 2021

Davis Community cleans up E Street Plaza in “Make Downtown Davis Sparkle” event

MICHELLE BYARS / COURTESY

Davis Chamber of Commerce hosts first of many quarterly downtown clean-up events

E Street Plaza was scrubbed clean by Davis community members on the morning of Sunday, Nov. 3. With sponges, rakes and power washers in hand, the volunteers left the plaza spotless.

The Davis Chamber of Commerce and the Davis Police Department hosted its first “Make Downtown Davis Sparkle” event, a downtown cleanup that the DCOC hopes will be held monthly or quarterly. The area that the volunteers cleaned on E Street stretched from the Chamber of Commerce building to E Street Plaza.

The E Street Plaza was identified by the police department as the area that would benefit most from being cleaned. For Sarah Worley, the city of Davis business engagement manager, the E Street Plaza is a central hub for activity downtown, with many community events occuring at the plaza. One such event that would benefit from a clean plaza is the upcoming annual tree lighting ceremony.

“As the first time out, the decision was to focus the energies and the volunteers on the E Street Plaza, which is really the heart of the downtown,” Worley said. “Also, part of the concept is to clean up our downtown in anticipation of a lot of holiday shoppers coming and enjoying our downtown. So this will be one of what we hope will be many, many, many events.”

Darren Pytel, the Davis chief of police, had considered the idea of cleaning downtown for quite some time.  He introduced it during a Chamber of Commerce “Professionals Helping to Re-Envision Davis” subcommittee meeting three weeks before the event.

“[PHRED tries] to find actionable items and take action, and this is one of the items that the police brought up to take action [for],” said Carolyn Stiver, the vice chair of the Board of Directors for the DCOC. “One of the biggest reasons [to take action] is civic pride. When people put in a little bit of elbow grease and a little bit of sweat equity, then they have more pride in the community at large and they’re more likely to keep it clean.”

According to Stiver, around 30 to 40 participants showed up to volunteer. Although the event was scheduled to be held until 11 a.m., the volunteers cleaning up started wrapping up early at 9:30 a.m.

Among the volunteers were city employees, DCOC ambassadors, private citizens and representatives from many private downtown businesses. According to Stiver, some businesses that made an appearance included the owner of Pinkadot and the general manager for Woodstocks.

“We had a great turnout this morning,” Stiver said. “Nobody wants to be the only person showing up to an event like this — and just to let people know that yes, we had a great turnout this time, we expect to have more.”

Ted Parks, the general manager of Woodstocks, helped clean the utility boxes near the plaza on E Street. He expressed how volunteering is infectious and hopes that passerbyers who were curious about the event would participate during the next Downtown Davis event.

“I think downtown needs to get a little facelift, get a little cleaned up a little bit,” Parks said. “We’ve been trying to keep downtown as clean as we can in front of the shops. We’ve been talking about this for a while so, you know, you gotta keep your money where your mouth is.”

In the future, Pytel and Stiver hope that there will be more downtown clean-up events. According to Pytel, while it’s normally the job of the parks department to do limited maintenance on downtown, it has been difficult for them due to the downsizing of a number of employees.

“Parks departments picks up the trash and does limited maintenance but in 2006, the city had about 100 more employees than it does now,” Pytel said. “We’ve actually ended up eliminating a lot of those positions, and some of those positions were park staff that would come down here and keep everything clean. So the reality is that since that time, it’s been one of those jobs that hasn’t really gotten done.”

Another downtown cleanup event is scheduled for Nov. 18. The site of cleanup will be the G Street Plaza and its surrounding areas. Since the E Street cleanup was planned very quickly, Stiver hopes that more people will show up to the next cleanup event.

“Downtown is really the commercial heart of the community, and I think that having a cleaner environment shows that you’ll have a better experience,” Worley said. “But it also shows pride in our community, and when people show pride in our community and take care of it, [it] can stimulate and be a catalyst for other kinds of volunteer opportunities and investments.”

Written by: Hannan Waliullah — city@theaggie.org

1 COMMENT

  1. I talked to a local homeless man and he said that he was using a bathroom at central park and left his belongings outside, when he got out he realized a police officer had thrown his belongings in the trash. The police helped locate an area of downtown that needed to be cleaned and the community came together and that is good. If you want to tackle homelessness you need to minimize the contact these vulnerable members of society have with the police in my opinion. All the police do is ticket homeless people and shuffle people around.

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