The refurbishment was done in collaboration with Davis Odd Fellows
By CHRIS PONCE — firstname.lastname@example.org
Throughout the summer, the city of Davis renovated the “Welcome to Davis” sign that is located at the entrance of the Richards Underpass. The sign features 12 different medallions of local nonprofit organizations that are meant to represent values inherent to Davis.
“The welcome sign sets a tone and tenor when people come to Davis,” Jenny Tan, Director of Community Engagement with the city of Davis, said when describing the importance of which organizations are displayed on the sign. “It’s an entryway to Downtown Davis when you’re exiting from the freeway right there. So we sort of understood that there is an importance and levity to being on the welcome sign and what it means when people see these agencies on there.”
According to Tan, the decision of which organizations were to be displayed on the sign was decided by the city of Davis after discussion with the Davis Odd Fellows. These discussions determined that in order to get on the sign, organizations needed to be a nonprofit that served the Davis community. Once an organization is on the sign, there is a yearly maintenance fee of $150 that they must pay in order to remain on it.
“They [must be] Davis-based with a strong Davis-focused local presence,” Tan said. “You know, there are some organizations that are Davis-based but maybe their presence is stronger elsewhere. Also, they have to reflect the Davis community and also provide critical or important services to the Davis community.”
The 12 organizations that are currently on the welcome sign are the Davis Odd Fellows Lodge, Davis as a Platinum Bicycle City by the American League of Bicyclists, Davis Chamber of Commerce, Davis Downtown Business Association, Davis Farmers Market, Davis Phoenix Coalition (DPC), International House of Davis, Kiwanis Club of Davis, Soroptimist International of Davis, Rotary International, Team Davis and Tree Davis.
“We really wanted to think about having diversity on the sign,” Tan said regarding the decision to include the DPC on the sign. “Like I mentioned, there are a lot more nonprofits than there are spots on the sign, and we felt that the Davis Phoenix Coalition was a really great example of sort of an organization that is a nonprofit that’s working towards social change and really working towards inclusivity, which really matches well with what the city values and goals are.”
Tan shared that during the COVID-19 lockdowns, there started to be more wear and tear on the sign, there sometimes would be tagging on the signs and that some medallions were missing. During the lockdowns, the city covered the old sign with a Healthy Davis Together Banner, but once that was taken down the sign had even more damage.
According to Tan, there had been efforts over the years to update the sign. She expressed that there was an effort to remodel the sign when the pandemic started but it was stalled as a result of the health crisis. In 2022, Dave Rosenberg with the Davis Odd Fellows reached out to the city about refurbishing the sign, and a partnership was formed.
“The Davis Odd Fellows are delighted to partner with the City of Davis to bring back our newly upgraded Welcome to Davis sign that had fallen into disrepair,” Rosenberg said in a statement made on the city of Davis website. “This traditional sign welcomes folks to Davis as a community of active residents and organizations.”
While the changes made have been an improvement, Tan shared that the city still hopes to be able to replace the sign with the funds from the featured organizations’ yearly maintenance fees.
“What we hope to do is build up enough funds in maybe the next couple of years or the next two to five years [to] actually [replace] the sign,” Tan said. “That sign has been out for many many years and even though it’s still in decent condition right now, at some point the city would like to replace it.”
The current welcome sign has been in Davis for decades. Tan said that since the 1940s there has been a welcome sign in the city and that the city still understands the importance of having one.
“Welcome signs can help shape experience, signify greeting and showcase service to communities,” Mayor Will Arnold said in a statement on the city website. “As such, our ‘Welcome to Davis’ sign not only sets the tone and tenor for those visiting Davis, but also gives a glimpse into the values and identity of the city.”
Written By: Chris Ponce — email@example.com