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Davis

Davis, California

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Davis City Council approves resolution to temporarily improve lighting downtown

In the first city council meeting of the month, the council approved a temporary increase in decorative lightning downtown 

 

By HANNAH SCHRADER city@theaggie.org

 

During the city council meeting on Oct. 3, amendments to the city of Davis municipal code were proposed in order to incorporate more lightning in the downtown trees for decorative and safety purposes. After a discussion about logistics and demand for more lighting, the amendment was unanimously passed by the council.

The City of Davis Public Works and Utilities Operations Director, Stan Gryczko, talked about the urgency of the situation while presenting goals for the future of lightning downtown. Gryczko shared the possible paths the city could take to enhance lighting in downtown over the long term.

“Hopefully [by] early 2024 we’d be back in front of council with that resolution and discussion around what the permanent downtown decorative lighting will look like,” Gryczko said.

Gryczko also explained the goals and logistics of this amendment during the meeting. 

“We had to balance a number of goals as we got into this, certainly removing the wrap lightning that was harming the trees, minimizing impact to tree health with any future lightning that we might look to replace it with [and] providing ambiance and atmosphere in active downtown spaces,” Gryczko said. 

Davis City Manager Mike Webb discussed the community support for more lighting to address safety concerns.

“We’ve heard from the community time and time again, especially after recent tragic events, an interest in ensuring we minimize dark spots and dark places in the city and I will say the decorative lighting in the downtown has served a useful purpose in that sense of providing a little extra supplemental lighting,” Webb said.
Students have expressed concern about a lack of street lighting in Davis in the past. Despite support for improved lighting, the resolution still sparked debate. Colin Walsh, the vice chair of the City of Davis Tree Commission, spoke in opposition to the resolution because of how it may affect the trees.

“We just had a 20 year experiment at what it looks like when lights are put in our trees and frankly, the results are pretty bad for the trees,” Walsh said. “[…] I urge you not to allow lighting without a better plan.” 

Gryczko refuted Walsh’s claim that damage would be done to the trees when implementing the decorative lighting by reiterating the new strategy.

“The lights would not go up the previous way they were hung which absolutely damaged the trees,” Gryczko said. “No question, there’s no disputing that fact [that] there was not a program in place for the past 10 years to do that lightning properly. [We will] string some temporary lighting, which we’ve done [with] a couple [of] strands to date in a manner that is minimally harmful to the trees.”

Mayor Will Arnold called for a vote on the ordinance amendments after codifying a date on which the lighting would be removed, and the amendment passed.

Written by: Hannah Schrader  city@theaggie.org