Concerns about Downtown Safety Bleed into DDBA Discussion

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E Street PlazaDuring public comment at Tuesday’s city council meeting, Paul Frydental spoke. Mr. Frydendal is the uncle of one of the victims in a recent attack, last Saturday morning at 1:15 am, where three victims were knocked unconscious when they were jumped from behind and pummeled with baseball bats near downtown Davis.

The victims were robbed of their wallets and their cell phones. All three ended up in the hospital. Mr. Frydendal’s nephew was transferred to the UC Davis Medical Center, where he was just released after being diagnosed with bleeding on the brain – and it was touch and go as to whether he would require brain surgery.

Mr. Frydendal said, “We have a significant situation in the downtown… The savage beating of these three young men. No one followed up initially – they were written off as they were too tipsy. The problem is that they weren’t tipsy, they were unconscious.” He said, “Something needs to be done to significantly address the crime that is happening in your downtown.”

Former City Councilmember Michael Harrington on Tuesday added that the attack occurred on Sixth St in a darkened part of Old North Davis. He said, “It’s really a different scene downtown. If the bars were closed at midnight, would they have had time to maybe be seen by people downtown?”

He said it is nice to hear about the lively downtown, “but public safety is number one, it has to be number one. What’s going on right now is completely intolerable.”

Mr. Harrington pushed again for council to close the bars earlier. “If you close the bars at midnight you will prevent a lot of problems.”

Councilmember Lucas Frerichs on Tuesday said, “Obviously the late night behaviors are not good. We’re working very diligently on trying to rectify those things and correct those behaviors, and make things as safe as possible for all people whether they’re citizens or not (of Davis).”

He said there is a real need for folks to come to the table, not necessarily in this venue, and the need to mediate some of these issues.

The downtown Davis scene was also the focus of a community discussion on Wednesday evening (Vanguard coverage on that will be on Friday).

Councilmember Frerichs, speaking to the Vanguard following last night’s discussion, said, “I am totally impressed to see 80+ people come out on a busy weeknight to participate in a community conversation regarding the health and future of our downtown.”

“From the attendance at tonight’s event, I think it’s crystal clear that the citizens of Davis are quite concerned about the late night party scene, among other issues,” he continued. “It was an interactive and thought-provoking evening, and I think it will assist the City Council as we continue to develop and implement comprehensive solutions to address the late night environment in our downtown.”

There remains concern about safety in the downtown.

The mayor has been pretty consistent in his belief that Davis’ downtown has changed after 10 pm and he doesn’t believe we should be approving more nightclubs. He told the Bee last month, “We shouldn’t be approving another nightclub without having this community conversation… I have to be honest: I don’t think we should have more of these nightclubs downtown. If we’re going to have nightclubs, it can’t be the status quo. You’ve got to have more security. You’ve got to have more limits.”

The Vanguard’s analysis from two weeks ago showed a fluctuating but relatively stable amount of violent crimes in the Davis Downtown over the last six years – the overall trend is the city violent crime appears to be going downward, while it remains fairly stable in the downtown.

Back in September, Darren Pytel noted that the calls for service have not suddenly doubled or tripled downtown, that it’s always been busy. However, the nature of these incidents have escalated somewhat in the last few years.

Darren Pytel added, “We are still with a lot of problems there.” He said at KetMoRee and other locations that they are seeing more and more weapons. “We’ve taken more guns and knives off of people arrested in fights downtown,” he said. “We have kind of seen a change regarding escalation in weapons and violence over the past couple of years.”

But the statistics that we see really don’t appear to bear this out.

Nevertheless, this represents a point of concern and it is bleeding into other policy areas.

Mayor Pro Tem Robb Davis said, “I’m not surprised there’s a conflict. We’ve had a murder in our downtown. We’ve had a lot of ferment in the last number of months over concerns about safety. If there weren’t conflict, I’d be shocked.”

He added, “On the security side, we’re going to take care of it. We already are, if we talked to the police, they would say we’re already trying things that are fundamentally altering people’s ability to acquire alcohol in an overconsumptive type of way and it seems to be making a difference.”

He said that is without taking any steps other than noticing the problem and holding forums. He said, “I think the security part of the concern is going to be taken care of.”

The mayor pro tem was concerned about loading it into the DBID (Downtown Business Improvement District), noting that it has a small budget and the cost of cleaning the downtown and dealing with the security issues would “swamp the budget that they have.”

 —David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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38 thoughts on “Concerns about Downtown Safety Bleed into DDBA Discussion”

  1. Barack Palin

    “It’s really a different scene downtown. If the bars were closed at midnight, would they have had time to maybe be seen by people downtown?”

    I’m not understanding this statement.  Is he saying that if the bars closed at 12 people might have come upon the victims?

      1. Barack Palin

        Thanks Highbeam.

        So does he want us to dictate to businesses what time they must close so their patrons may accidentally come across beating victims?  SMH

      1. Davis Progressive

        it’s worse than that – they aren’t going to go to davis to drink, they are going to go to sac to drink, tank up and come home on the causeway.  how many kids will be killed because michael harrington changed the last call for drinks?  will anyone even remember to hold him accountable?

  2. Anon

    Darren Pytel added, “We are still with a lot of problems there.” He said at KetMoRee and other locations that they are seeing more and more weapons. “We’ve taken more guns and knives off of people arrested in fights downtown,” he said. “We have kind of seen a change regarding escalation in weapons and violence over the past couple of years.”

    But the statistics that we see really don’t appear to bear this out.

    We had a murder in a nightclub.  One murder is one too many in my book.  Nor do the statistics necessarily reflect what types of weapons are in possession of the people arrested.  Statistics don’t necessarily tell the whole story…

    1. Miwok

      Instead of the Police having all the people they need and the bars open without enough security working with them, the patrons obviously do not feel safe in these establishments. Ball bats? Who carries those into anywhere?

      If the PD has more officers and the bars were safe havens, who would have a problem with them turning them back into a coffee bar at 3 or 4 and staying open all night? Instead New Chief Pytel says there are more weapons, and some people want to close them early? Indeed, they either live next to the place, or they are not remembering when they were young. Of course at some point you turn down that stuff! 🙂

      Closing early only spreads the trouble around town, harder for the PD?

      But guys roaming 6th with ball bats? Seems some technology could scope this out pretty fast?

    2. Davis Progressive

      “We had a murder in a nightclub.  One murder is one too many in my book.”

      that’s a nice statement, but there have been seven other murders in davis since 2011 – what other changes have you supported based on thos murders?

      “Statistics don’t necessarily tell the whole story…”

      they tell you how many crimes were committed and what type

      1. Frankly

        True, Davis attracts criminals because of the high level of affluence and our low ratio of police officer per capita.  But not because we have bars.  All the cities these criminals come from have bars.  If bars attracted criminals then why not stay home and do the crime?  Saves on gas money.

        1. Alan Miller

          Anything attracts criminals.  It’s a matter of degree.  I’m not speaking of the bars, as such.  Of course they attract criminals, and lots more decent people.

          Coffee hypes you up.  Methamphetamine hypes you up.

          I am not in favor of restricting closing times or alcohol sales times.  I believe the night clubs have changed the downtown from coffee to methamphetamine in atmosphere. Robb Davis has gone so far as to say the Night Clubs are de facto acting outside their licenses when they “morph”.  I fully agree with him.  I hope the ABC takes a stance, including enforcement, should this turn out to be true in a legal sense.

          With Tres Hermanas Night Club shutting down and the “morphing” practice (clearing restaurant tables to create a dance floor and increased capacity) taking a big hit in the public eye, I am encouraged that we may get downtown back from methamphetamine to maybe a quadruple-espresso from 11pm to 2am on Thursday – Saturday evenings.

           

        2. Frankly

          Robb is wrong in his understanding of the ABC licensing.  The language is very clear in that the establishment needs to be a restaurant to have a license to serve alchohol.  These are all clearly restaurants.  It does not matter that they move tables for a dance floor at the end of dinner time.  This is a common practice throughout CA that ABC has not had a problem with.

          You meth vs caffeine analogy is apt to some degree.  But I think you are missing the source of the “meth”.  It is the concentration of young college-age people.

          Here is a simple way to test this point.

          Say the downtown bars close at 11:00 PM, but all the college-age residents start throwing large mega parties in the residential neighborhoods to party and dance 11:00 PM – 2:00 AM.

          Or say that the restaurants do the same things they have been doing but the college age residents reject them and stick to the large mega parties in the residential neighborhoods.

          To test your theory that the nighttime business model of the restaurants was the primary source of criminal attraction, the criminals would go to the nightclubs reguardless of the missing college age residents.

          I think you know that would not be the case.

        3. Robb Davis

          I fully understand the license and have studied all types common in Davis.  My comment was about the spirit of the law that is not being followed.  I stand by that comment and my opinion that a 47 license is being abused.  There is a license that covers the types of behavior observed: license 48.

          I will also note that the ABC itself has given a grant to Davis and agreed to work with the City to assure compliance (via audits) with the licenses (47) because they do not KNOW whether or not the establishments are complying.

        4. Frankly

          Robb – These are primarily restaurants that provide nightclub type services for limited hours.  They meet the spirit of the law just fine.  Where you would see a problem is a primary bar-club that serves limited food that tries to get by with the type 47 license.

          The primary issue is the allowance of minors on premise.

          You cannot have more than one type of license.

          I am a bit troubled by this track because to me it sounds like a pursuit of a soft shake-down to close the nightclubs.  No restaurant can survive in this town only being allowed to serve people 21 and older.  And so if your “spirit of the law” is pushed upon these restaurants they would be stuck having to decide to go out of business or close their nightclub.

          I think you are completely wrong about them being out of compliance, but I know how government at the state and federal level works where you can find a friend working at high enough in any agency that will attempt scare tactics to help a mutual friend… in this case ABC putting pressure on the restaurants using the “spirit of the law” argument…. and that the restaurant would end up having to hire a lawyer and fight the ruling in court… and since the restaurant would not likely want to do this and piss off the powerful state bureaucrats at ABC, they would just give up.  We saw how this works during the Mace 391 debate with the USDA NRCS rep supporting the Y0lo Land Trust with false claims that nobody would challenge.

          Honor the true spirit of the law and not the version you prefer.

        5. sisterhood

          Alan, espresso actually has less caffeine. The longer you roast the bean, the less caffeine. Espresso beans are almost burnt. Lighter, blonder coffee that is slightly roasted has the most caffeine.

        6. Robb Davis

          Frankly: “The primary issue is the allowance of minors on premise.”

          I am honestly not sure where this comes from because this is not the issue for me.  Rather, my concern is embodied in your first paragraph:

          Where you would see a problem is a primary bar-club that serves limited food that tries to get by with the type 47 license.

          What I am saying–and that for which the ABC is providing us resources to audit–is that I am afraid this is exactly what is happening.  When I say spirit of the permit, I am saying that if you are a restaurant, you should act like a restaurant.  Period.  You should not act like a restaurant sometimes and like a club (Type 48 license) at others.  I say “spirit” because it may be true that the Type 47s are acting according to the letter of the law which says food sales must be more than alcohol sales.  However, if during certain times of the day food is not actually available, then that is troubling to me.

          I am making no judgment about minors and am not trying to limit that.  I am not saying these folks should try to get a 48, nor am I suggesting that they could get two licenses (clearly absurd).  I am saying they should act like a restaurant during opening hours.  I don’t think that is onerous and there are MANY establishments in our city that do that successfully.

           

        7. Frankly

          Robb – what I meant by the point about the 47 license and minors, if you are going to make a case on the “spirit of the law” then you need to understand the genesis of the law… and the 47 license primarily was created for establishments that served alcohol that also wanted to be able to serve more than just people 21 and older.  Lawmakers of course had to have a justification for that (why would only a bar serve people under 21 when the legal drinking age is 21 and over?)… and so the establishment had to be primarily a restaurant.

          But nothing in the law says that the establishment has to be open as only a restaurant for 100% of their operating hours.

          It is common for people to come to a restaurant with a bar only for the bar.

          It isn’t really accurate to overlay a perspective that a primary restaurant cannot change to a dance-club a few days a week after they stop serving food.   If all you are after is for them to keep serving food in order to be in compliance, it is really a silly pursuit since, if food was in demand during these hours of operation, I’m sure the restaurant would already be doing so.

          The Graduate has been following this business model for decades.  They move tables off the dance floor at some time during the night.  They generally do serve food for part of the time there is dancing, but the kitchen closes before the bar closes.   They have both DJs and live music.   They even have concerts where there is no food served.

          The reason this works is that they are primarily a real bonafide restaurant and so they meet the ABC definition for a type 47 license.

          The troubling thing for me is that it appears you are pursuing a stealth “shut it down” solution since there isn’t really any other acceptable compromise given your position.

        8. Robb Davis

          “Stealth shutdown” is not my intent.  Approaching problem solving this way is not my style at all.  Whether people come to a restaurant merely to go to the bar is of no concern to me.  I think it is clear that that is not what we are talking about here.  If it were clear to me that restaurant bars in this town cannot survive outside the particular model that has evolved I would seek another solution.  Clearly MANY can and do survive, and therefore I am pushing for standards that keep these establishments functioning as restaurants.

          Just as you say that someone should be able to walk into a restaurant/bar and just go to the bar, I feel it is VERY reasonable that someone should be able to walk into a restaurant/bar and be able to order real food at any time.

        9. Alan Miller

          You meth vs caffeine analogy is apt to some degree.  But I think you are missing the source of the “meth”.  It is the concentration of young college-age people.

          I agree with that.  And nothing concentrates the college-age people like a night club packin’ ’em in.  There was inference at the meeting last night that the night clubs likely exceed their legal maximums during night club hours because the fire marshall does not inspect at night and the maximums are set for a room with tables.  You can’t have it both ways.

           

          Say the downtown bars close at 11:00 PM,

          I do not believe the bars should be required to shut down early.  I believe the very few establishments that “morph” should not be allowed to morph.

          but all the college-age residents start throwing large mega parties in the residential neighborhoods to party and dance 11:00 PM – 2:00 AM.  Or say that the restaurants do the same things they have been doing but the college age residents reject them and stick to the large mega parties in the residential neighborhoods.

          All the people downtown spread out all over Davis wouldn’t make a dent.  Also, unlike at downtown night clubs, the police enforce the noise ordinance in neighborhoods .

           

          To test your theory that the nighttime business model of the restaurants was the primary source of criminal attraction, the criminals would go to the nightclubs reguardless of the missing college age residents.

          That’s not a test, it’s just a statement of what you think wouldn’t happen, or would happen, or something.

           

          I think you know that would not be the case.

          I’m so confused by your loopy metaphor/test I don’t even know what I’m supposed to think.

        10. Alan Miller

          Alan, espresso actually has less caffeine. The longer you roast the bean, the less caffeine. Espresso beans are almost burnt. Lighter, blonder coffee that is slightly roasted has the most caffeine.

          Well aware, I ran an espresso business in the 90’s.  A quadruple espresso would certainly wake you up, however.

        11. Frankly

          Just as you say that someone should be able to walk into a restaurant/bar and just go to the bar, I feel it is VERY reasonable that someone should be able to walk into a restaurant/bar and be able to order real food at any time.

          I am too logical for this.  I think you need to come clean on what it is you hope to accomplish.  What is your agenda here as a city leader?

          If there was a big enough demand for food from 11 PM to 2 AM, don’t you think the restaurants would already provide food?  People have generally already eaten.  Older people like you me and Alan Miller are already in bed or reading or blogging or all three.

          I’m sure you know the difficulty and expense of keeping a kitchen and food service open until 2 AM when there will not be enough business to support it.  I’m sure you know that restaurants like KetMoRee (and I assume the Graduate too) will have to keep the tables in place and then it eliminates the dance space.

          From my perspective you appear to be pursuing this “spirit of the law” concept as a way to shut down the nightclubs without having to admit that is what you are doing.

          How about this instead?  Work with ABC on what the actual law is and make sure all the business in town is following the law.  Then take a stand.  Be open and honest about what you want.  Work to get an ordinance passed.  You will piss off some people and make other people happy… but that is what leadership is all about.  I am sure you know that but I have to say it.

          And if I was you I would find a way, if you have not already, get to the UCD students to find out what they want… because you represent them too and not just Alan Miller.

        12. Robb Davis

           

          Frankly: “I am too logical for this.  I think you need to come clean on what it is you hope to accomplish.  What is your agenda here as a city leader?”

          My “agenda” as you call it, and what I hope to accomplish, is to create a safer environment in late night downtown, to curb practices that encourage excessive consumption of alcohol and to compel businesses that serve late night to take measure to protect their clients and the downtown. I have made my “agenda” clear in public several times over the past several months.  I have listened to many young people on this matter including meetings with UCD students.  Interesting to me how many of them are very concerned about the overconsumption of alcohol in the late night downtown.

          I am focusing on the issue of food and restaurants for a couple of reasons.  One, the skills, experiences and practices necessary to run a restaurant/bar are different than those to run a nightclub.  If people want to run nightclubs (de facto or real) then we should have full assurances that they are equipped to do so.  Licensing is one part of what is necessary to gain confidence that they can do so.  If they are licensed as a restaurant/bar then I can have confidence that they know how to run a restaurant/bar. But having such a license does not imply they can run a de facto nightclub.  Given what I have seen and heard about the downtown (from the police), over the past several years there is evidence that some restaurant/bar owners have not been effectively running their establishments to provide safety and assure that overconsumption of alcohol does not take place in the late night hours.  Therefore, I am questioning whether they have the capacity to function as clubs.  A reasonable question on my part.  If they cannot, then I think it is reasonable for (logical of) me to ask questions about the intent of the license they hold.

          Further, and I will repeat myself, the ABC has enough concerns about whether they are functioning according to their licenses to grant Davis money to more regularly audit their sales practices.  This is not because a Council member with a hidden “agenda” requested this, but because the ABC itself has concerns.

          I am not trying to shut down any establishment (is that clear enough for you).  I voted to allow Blondie’s to open and to take actions to assure safety of patrons.  I have not yet made up my mind about THE KEY issue in this debate: closing times.  I am focused on assuring that weapons are kept out of this mix and assuring that foot patrols are maintained at the recent increased rate.  I am still wrestling through–with the police–the best mix of actions to require and which to allow to occur voluntarily, to assure safety and a reduction/elimination of overconsumption of alcohol.  Again, I hope this is clear.

          I add here information on Type 47 and 48 licenses that will not end the debate but is what I am looking at to understand better what I can require.

          Type 47 License: ON SALE GENERAL – EATING PLACE – (Restaurant) Authorizes the sale of beer, wine and distilled spirits for consumption on the licenses premises. Authorizes the sale of beer and wine for consumption off the licenses premises. Must operate and maintain the licensed premises as a bona fide eating place. Must maintain suitable kitchen facilities, and must make actual and substantial sales of meals for consumption on the premises. Minors are allowed on the premises.  Type 48 license ON SALE GENERAL – PUBLIC PREMISES – (Bar, Night Club) Authorizes the sale of beer, wine and distilled spirits for consumption on the premises where sold. Authorizes the sale of beer and wine for consumption off the premises where sold. Minors are not allowed to enter and remain (see Section 25663.5 for exception, musicians). Food service is not required. (Source)

           23038. “Bona fide public eating place”; “Meals”; “Guests”

          “Bona fide public eating place” means a place which is regularly and in a bona fide manner used and kept open for the serving of meals to guests for compensation and which has suitable kitchen facilities connected therewith, containing conveniences for cooking an assortment of foods which may be required for ordinary meals, the kitchen of which must be kept in a sanitary condition with the proper amount of refrigeration for keeping of food on said premises and must comply with all the regulations of the local department of health. “Meals” mean the usual assortment of foods commonly ordered at various hours of the day; the service of such food and victuals only as sandwiches or salads shall not be deemed a compliance with this requirement. “Guests” shall mean per- sons who, during the hours when meals are regularly served therein, come to a bona fide public eating place for the purpose of obtaining, and actually order and obtain at such time, in good faith, a meal therein. Nothing in this section, however, shall be construed to require that any food be sold or purchased with any beverage. (Source)

            

        13. Frankly

          Robb – thanks for the detailed response.  While this helps me understand your perspective and goals better, I think there is still something missing in either your understanding or else you are just ignoring the point.   A single facility can only have one type of license.  That being the case, with your pursuit of “spirit of the law” you are basically saying that if not a type 48 license then no nightclub.

          Or… (what appears to be the case)

          You are only pursuing this “spirit of the law” thing for leverage against the businesses to comply with what you want them to do.  Since all of the businesses are eager to comply with stricter security measures, it is clear that you want them to stop serving earlier… probably something that they know and you know would kill the nightclub business because it does not get started until 11:30 PM… as is the case with every other restaurant-nightclub.

          Since forcing them to keep the kitchen and food service business open all hours of operation will be too expensive given the meager sales they would generate, you will get them to “self-comply” instead of having to work on a city ordinance.  In fact, we can just use old mean ABC as the scapegoat for this.

          I get it now.  Clever.

          And Davis’s business-hostile reputation continues!

      2. Alan Miller

        Older people like you me and Alan Miller are already in bed or reading or blogging or all three.

        Frank Lee, what the F— is wrong with you?  You must be much older than me, because you have no memory and you make s–t up.  No matter how many times I tell you something, you continue to attribute things to me that you think apply to me that I have told you don’t.

        For example, I often eat late, am often downtown late, and often eat downtown.

        Stop making S— up from your soft anonymous perch.

        1. Frankly

          Gosh… a little sensitive here.  I’m sure you can just get the point without taking me to task from such a literal perch.

          I hope you eat a lot because I think your the only older Davisite that would give these places any food business after 11 PM.

        2. Alan Miller

          Gosh… a little sensitive here.

          Yeah, right.  Feel free to call me an an ‘overfed, longhaired, leaping gnome’ all you want.

          I hope you eat a lot

          I eat enough to single highhandedly keep Tucos from going under.   I’m the only reason Tucos is still in business.

        3. Frankly

          Yeah, right.  Feel free to call me an an ‘overfed, longhaired, leaping gnome

          Honestly, I don’t have a clue what you look like.  And I don’t know how old you are… just guessing that.  I assume we will meet someday… maybe lunchtime at Tucos?

        1. Tia Will

          Frankly

          Though, don’t you think that adding another 600 students per year is likely to create some changes?”

          Yes, and that is one of the best reasons that I can think of to be proactive, think about how we ( including the students) want our community to look in the future, how to best protect all these new arrivals instead of just pretending that the businesses will all choose optimally and then be reactive when something goes horribly wrong. Some of the members of the City Council who you seem to be claiming have a “hidden agenda” seem to understand this point very well.

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