Unanimous Council Passes Moratorium, Focus Shifts To Sexual Assaults

photo courtesy DavisWiki
photo courtesy DavisWiki

Last night the Davis City Council voted 5-0 to support extending the moratorium for 10 months and 15 days. However, the discussion has shifted slightly in the wake of the still unresolved rape of a woman two weeks ago in a Davis park.

Heidy Kellison, speaking as a member of the Sexual Assault Advisory Committee of the California Emergency Management Agency, and a former member of WEAVE, “no one should have to witness what I have witnessed.”

She said this is her first time speaking during public comment at the city council meeting. She told the council, “The extreme acts of violence we’re experiencing are not isolated incidents – they are harbingers of things to come. As a community, we reject Davis’ designation as a regional destination for the mal-intended. We will not become a 365-day a year Picnic Day.”

She called on businesses to be partners in the solution. She said that, while some businesses are responsible, others are not. “To those who do not, I say this, we are watching and we will not tolerate your blind eye any longer.”

She called out businesses who objectify women, calling them “extraordinarily out of touch if you believe you will be welcomed here.”

Ms. Kellison added, “This issue is just beginning to be vetted” and added, “I abhor the notion that the door is currently wide open to businesses serving as breeding grounds for felonious behavior.”

Emily Henderson said, “We know that sexual assault is under-reported and I feel like, while I absolutely hold the individuals responsible for their actions in those headlines, I do [know] that we as a community are a part of that. We set a tone as to what is acceptable in our downtown and you as our leaders have an opportunity to guide us.”

She added, “I have really grave concerns about the trends. I know we are responding to two very pronounced incidents but I think there [are] a lot of incidents that we just never hear about – particularly when it comes to sexual assault.”

Salina Alvarez, Associated Director of Empower Yolo, a Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Center that serves Yolo County survivors of violence, spoke. She said, “Violence is an issue that needs to addressed not just by reducing risk but I think it’s important for the city to figure out ways to respond.”

Ms. Alvarez said she was gratified that the city was taking this issue seriously and urged people to shift blame away from the victims of this violence and toward the perpetrators. “This is a community and societal issue that needs to be addressed,” she said.

It was just under two weeks ago that the police reported that “a female UC Davis student, in her early twenties, met three males at Bistro 33 on Thursday night. She was subsequently taken to a park in Davis where all three suspects sexually assaulted her. Investigators believe the attack occurred in the vicinity of Community Park.”

The three suspects in their late 20s or early 30s remain at large and Assistant Police Chief Darren Pytel told the Vanguard this morning that there is no new information in this case.

The rape in Davis Community Park reportedly occurred nearly a month after the stabbing death of Peter Gonzales first led to community concerns and a moratorium on new late night establishments larger than 2500 square feet – that has now been extended by 10 months.

In their comments, Councilmember Rochelle Swanson expressed a real concern that they are just going to clamp down on the drinking “and magically sexual assault is going to be curbed.”

She noted that crime statistics really haven’t changed for sexual assault over the years. Eighty percent of the victims don’t report sexual assault. One in four women can expect to be raped during their college career.

“The lack of reporting is of course a big concern,” she said. “It’s also about the environment.”

“I have a real concern that if we pass an ordinance, we’re done, yay. We’ve cured it and we’ve walked on,” she continued, asking staff to start looking into statistics of where sexual assaults are occurring in our community. She expressed the same concern on the issue of alcohol, and about the belief that cutting off an hour or two of drinking will present us with a cure to the overall problem.

“Folks forget that prior to all of this, we had a lot of problems in our fraternities and our sorority houses that aren’t regulated,” she said.

Councilmember Swanson cautioned that we not just “check the box” and say, “we did something strong and now we’re going to move on” and “then just wait for another tragedy to be able to address this.”

She added, “It’s sad it took a tragedy, the police department has tried for a number of years to have this kind of dialogue.”

Ms. Swanson further added, “I guess this is my plea, don’t let this just be about some loudness and some inconvenience and downtown looking like the kind of town it used to – I think it was more hidden and now it’s more out there.” She urged us to really address some of the underlying issues here.

Mayor Dan Wolk quickly would add, “Just reminding why we’re here, talking about this moratorium, is that we’ve had these two horrific acts of violence in or related to our downtown between the murder that took place at KetMoRee and the rape that occurred.”

He called sexual assault “a very real part of our community” and “a very real part of what we’re talking about here.”

Previously, Mayor Dan Wolk told CBS 13 in Sacramento, “Enough is enough. We have a real problem here.” The news station reported that Mayor Wolk said that “he’s sick of hearing about crime increasing in Downtown, mostly after dark.”

The mayor sees this as an extension of the downtown party scene, a party destination in the region. He told CBS 13, “Our downtown is a certain way until around 10, 11, and then it becomes this different place.” He added, “I think everyone recognizes that we have an issue here and we have to address it.”

Toward the broader issue, Councilmember Brett Lee called this, the moratorium, “a very small step,” saying that “the real step is when we change the regulations concerning the existing bars.” The moratorium just impacts those that want to expand or move to Davis. The current bars are “operating the same today as they were three months ago.”

This time, the council passed the moratorium extension unanimously, with Mike Webb pledging that permanent regulations will be in place long before it expires.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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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  1. Michelle Millet

    I’ll second everything Rochelle said. I hope more is done in this community by those who claim to care so much about ending sexual assault then closing the bars down a few hours earlier.

    1. Tia Will


      Have you read the 30 + points worked out collaboratively between the police, Blondie’s and the City staff and council ?  While I personally would like them to have gone further, one cannot reduce this list to “closing down the bars a few hours earlier”.

      I also want to point out that both Council members Lee and Davis have been involved in the public forums with the community, student representatives, police and businessmen and a subsequent forum with representatives from the school district, addiction specialists, the police, parents and health care providers addressing the related issue of substance abuse in our schools. There is work being done on collection of data regarding substance abuse within our community as part of a joint effort with the county.

      I would say that there is a lot more being done to address these issues by our public officials than simply a change in hours.

      1. Michelle Millet

        Glad to hear it, I would hate to think our sole response to addressing horrific sexual assaults agaisnst women is adding more seating and serving food.

        Sexual assaults against women is not a new thing in this town, and while I appreciate that it is on the council radar now, I find it troublesome that the recent horrific events are being used to promote political grandstanding, rather then focusing on actions that would have more substantive results.

        1. Davis Progressive

          i agree – i don’t see one thing proposed or discussed that will cut into the actual number of assaults and i have not seen a serious proposal to cut into the 80 percent non-reportal rate.

  2. Tia Will

    My personal thanks to Ms. Kellison, Ms.Henderson, and Ms. Alvarez for bringing their perspective to the public conversation. I know from personal experience how difficult it is to stand up before public officials in a taped forum for the first time to tell your own truth about an issue that our society and often the victims themselves would rather not address and wish would just go away. But this issue will not go away by itself and as was pointed out a community, not just an individual issue.

    I also want to extend my thanks to the City Council for taking this issue seriously as a community priority. I would emphasize Rochelle Swanson’s point that this is not about a single moratorium, it is about an ongoing change in societal attitude that does not just sweep sexual assault nor irresponsible use of alcohol and the consequences thereof under the proverbial carpet. This change will require education, demonstration of a lack of tolerance for both engaging in these activities and for promoting the kind of atmosphere in which they thrive, and comprehensive work within the community promoting both primary and secondary prevention of binge drinking and its adverse consequences.

  3. Misanthrop

    Bistro 33 doesn’t seem like a  business that objectifies women but perhaps I’m missing something. If I am missing something I’d like to know. While the exploitation of women as a business model does shock the sensibilities of this community it seems that the incident that started at Bistro 33 and moved to the park is unrelated to this particular source of concern. Davis must do whatever it can to increase public safety but let’s focus on the facts of these incidents and how to prevent them going forward instead of our concerns about our morality that may not be at the core of the problem.

    1. Barack Palin

      I see Bistro 33 as a somewhat upscale restaurant, not a night club.  The rape that occurred where the victim had earlier been at Bistro 33 had nothing to do with the night club scene.   This is nothing more than the city and people who want the night clubs cut back using that incident to further their agendas.

      1. Alan Miller

        I see Bistro 33 as a somewhat upscale restaurant, not a night club.


        The rape that occurred where the victim had earlier been at Bistro 33 had nothing to do with the night club scene.


        This is nothing more than the city and people who want the night clubs cut back using that incident to further their agendas.

        I want the nightclubs eliminated, period.  The nightclubs.  Not the night scene, not the restaurants, not the bars, so long as there isn’t “nightclub creep”.  Reducing hours?  Wanding?  Not necessary if you don’t have a cleared out dance floor attracting hoards.  It is odd and ironic that after a murder the Council split on letting in Blondie’s, but after an additional rape, that the establishment, a restaurant itself wasn’t involved with at all, the moratorium passed unanimously.  Not quite the same issue (Blondie’s “hardship” vs. Moratorium), but very related — but when not “just” a murder, but an added sexual assault, no one dared vote no?

        I wonder what the vote would have been had the sexual assault not occurred.  Also, I wonder how much this had to do with the sexual assault victim being a UCD student, while the murder victim was an out-of-towner.  I don’t have a definitive speculation on how different the vote would have been or what the motivations were, but I am curious what other commenters think.

        1. TrueBlueDevil

          Bingo. A law-abiding wonderful Latino family member is stabbed and killed by Nortenos (primarily Latino), and we take lesser actions. Don’t slow down Blondies, a new large bar in the downtown core.

          But a college coed is allegedly raped, and a political wave comes forward.

          Do we have pictures of the perps? Doesn’t Bistro 33 have security cameras?

          Should we require all establishments that serve booze to have security cameras and to keep the tapes for a certain period of time – say, one week or one month?

      1. Frankly

        Wow… you are sure dancing on the head of a pin here.

        KetMoRee is a bad actor because of the murder “caused” by their business practices, but Bistory 33 is a good actor even though a girl leaving their establishment was allegedly raped… right.

        So, what if the opposite occurred… someone stabbed and killed at Bistro (the restaurant with two full bars that stay open until 2 PM and play loud music), and someone raped after leaving KetMoRee?

        1. Davis Progressive

          i think the point you’re getting at is whether the violence was caused by the establishment or simply happened at the establishment.  there is a lot of presumption happening here.

        2. Michelle Millet

          To give credit to KetMoRee, the security measures they had in place allowed for the swift arrest of the alleged assailants involved in the murder that took place in their establishment.

        3. Frankly

          Yes.  KetMoRee is responsible and Bistro 33 is not because????

          The only thing I can come up with is that Alan Miller does not like the thumpa, thumpa music coming from KetMoRee and the fact that they have a dance floor.

          This then gets us to the old people Footloose syndrome… dancing leads to moral depravity and should be banned.

        4. Michelle Millet

          To be fair, the thumpa, thumpa, would drive me crazy. It would have driven me crazy in 20’s as well, I spent my weekends in college river rafting, rock climbing, and backpacking, basically as far a way as I could get from loud, annoying music, and crowds of drunk people dancing in cramped quarters.

          My 75 year old parents live in downtown Davis, and they don’t mind the noise associated with their urban location, but I’d have a hard time with it.


        5. Mark West

          “Downtown in any vibrant urban core retail area is going to be noisy”

          Absolutely, which it is why I find it silly that someone would complain about it. You move in downtown (or near by) you should expect it to be noisy, much like living next to the railroad tracks or near an airport. If you don’t like that sort of noise, don’t choose to live next to it.

        6. Alan Miller

          So, what if the opposite occurred… someone stabbed and killed at Bistro (the restaurant with two full bars that stay open until 2 PM and play loud music), and someone raped after leaving KetMoRee?

          And what if my aunt had balls?  She’d be my uncle.

  4. Frankly

    The reactionaries are alive and well in Davis.  Combine them with the grumpy old people and the Victorian prudes and they sure can be a destructive force.

    I am guessing that few college-age people pay attention to the Vanguard.   Too bad, because what I see is a war brewing between the olds and youngs.   The olds want Davis to be a certain way, and the youngs want Davis to be a certain way.

    The problem that they olds have is that, related to the downtown, the youngs are much better customers.

    It has been real interesting noting how the old people opposition noise has increased on the downtown nightlife when very few of the old people living here even knew what was happening as they were fast asleep by 10 PM after having cooked and eaten their groceries.

    The downtown has been transforming over the years to better serve the youngs because there are more of them and they spend more money there than do the olds.

    Restaurants like Tucos close because they do not generate enough business.  High-end, sit-down, full-service restaurants tend to spend 70% on ingredients and trained food service staff.  Pizza restaurants spend about 50% in ingredients and staff (pizza is cheap to make, and you can train pizza restaurant employees from the ground-up without paying them as much as you do for high-end, sit-down, full-service restaurant employees).

    Then you have the high cost of space because Davis voters (mostly the old people) don’t allow any peripheral retail growth, and the demand exceeds the supply.

    Probably the best thing we can do to build the innovation parks to help grow our severely depleted young professionals and young families demographic… a segment that tends to spend a high percentage of their budget on high-end food service and higher-quality entertainment.  Then instead of another pizza restaurant that turns into a nightclub, we might have a chef competing for the old Little Prague space to build an up-scale restaurant.

    But we also need more commercial space.  The size of Davis’s retail real estate footprint has not really increased much in the last 30 years as the city has about doubled in population with more old people and more young people and fewer in the middle.  This is causing the downtown to be much more congested as the primary location.

    Ask the outside element what attracts them to Davis… and it will be that there is a mass of people congregating in a small area to party and have fun.

    The olds cannot change the attraction for the youngs to congregate and party.  They can only cause it to move elsewhere.

    1. Davis Progressive

      i agree with some of this, but i believe your attempt to draw a parallel from land use policies to crime is tortured (to be kind).  again, if you look at cities with more rapid growth, they have higher crimes rates (much higher) than davis.  if anything land use policies have probably kept crime rates law in davis.

      1. Frankly

         if anything land use policies have probably kept crime rates law [low] in davis

        Davis has higher property crime per capita than most surrounding communities.  Ask the cops and they will tell you that most of this crime is from outsiders coming to Davis because we are a soft target.

        I think you can make the case that because we have expensive housing as a result of our no-growth history, we have fewer lower income families and thus don’t experience the higher levels of crime that it would otherwise bring.   But again, like the KetMoRee murder, the act was done by outsiders.

        I am not really making the connection to crime and land use other than the simple fact that our general fund budget is too small for the population of our city as a result of us not building enough tax-revenue-generating commercial space and thus we don’t have enough cops per capita.  My main point with respect to land use has to do with the concentration of people in a small area and in any case where you concentrate a bunch of people in a small area there is: 1 – a greater attraction from the outside element; 2 – a greater probability that conflict between people will occur.

        The city has grown in population, and our retail footprint has remained the same.   Also, the demographics of the city has shifted to more young and old, and less middle-aged.  These things have led to the inventory of businesses we see downtown.  Personally, I don’t agree with the Alan Miller and Tia Will rants that the nightclubs are bad and that the nightclubs are the cause of these two crime incidences being exploited to push their what-the-older-core-residents-demand-the-downtown-should-be campaign.  The true root cause is a combination of a greater local population of young people, greater population of people in the region… with a higher number of low income families in the surrounding region that tend to bring more crime, the concentration of people in a small downtown and too few cops.   Some of these can be connected to our land-use… absolutely.

  5. Anon

    Bottom line – we don’t know exactly what happened at KetMoRee.  The police investigation is still ongoing.  So it will take time to sort it all out, and is one of the reasons I am in favor of the moratorium.  Once new regulations are put in place, it will also take time to see if the new regulations actually work to calm down the violence at the nightclubs/bars.

    However, I actually don’t see much connection with the alleged rape and the nightclub scene, other than the point that was alluded to by Ms. Kellison: unsavory or illegal business practices that could contribute to a rape crime – such as continuing to sell drinks to the over-inebriated, “lingerie parties” where girls are enticed to dress in skimpy clothing in exchange for free drinks, the failure to monitor “creepers”, etc.  In other words, it goes back to the problem of the bars/nightclubs not properly training staff, the poor supervision of its staff, lack of sufficient security personnel inside these establishments, a need for wanding to keep out weapons, etc.

    Mayor Pro-Tem Robb Davis made an excellent point.  The nightclubs are really transforming after 10 pm what is a #47 license to sell food and liquor into a de facto #48 license to just sell liquor, and avoiding the responsibilities that come with a #48 license.

  6. Miwok

    Ms. Kellison added, “This issue is just beginning to be vetted” and added, “I abhor the notion that the door is currently wide open to businesses serving as breeding grounds for felonious behavior.”

    She has not been around for about 25 years, as she may not remember the “Take Back the Night” marches and flyers from the 80’s?

    It is interesting she talks as if she is just becoming aware of the problem, and it is the problem that is ongoing, not a one time thing she can hit and move on.. The mooratorium affects how many businesses? I have yet to hear a number, but lots of headlines patting themselves on the back for letting all the existing bars and clubs operate.

    The other culprit, not mentioned in the Vanguard, is the source of the clientele. UCD has not chimed in with much of anything, and they consistently hide their numbers until forced to state them, but consistently refuse to take reports on incidents, or depending who it is, hide the fact it even took place, to the detriment of women and minorities.

    1. odd man out

      This message was sent to all UC Davis email accounts yesterday. I don’t know if it is specifically related to the recent assault incident, but I suspect it was.

      Dear UC Davis Community:

      Sexual violence affects everyone, regardless of gender identity.

      Nationwide, 1 in 20 undergraduate males and nearly 1 in 4 females and individuals who identify as transgender, genderqueer, gender non-conforming or questioning (TGQN) said they have experienced non-consensual sexual contact involving physical force or incapacitation, according to a recent survey.

      In addition, 1 in 6 graduate and professional students who identify as TGQN said they have experienced this type of non-consensual sexual contact.

      UC Davis is a national and global leader in many areas. Now is the time for us to lead in another area: ending sexual violence in our campus communities.

      The university is launching a campaign to help prevent and raise awareness of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking. Watch this video to learn more.

      As an Aggie, you can help turn words into action in two critical ways:

      1) Understand affirmative consent.
      Consent – n.: an affirmative, unambiguous and conscious decision to participate in a mutually agreed-upon sexual act. Consent can be revoked at any time. Consent is not possible when a person is incapacitated, or when forced, threatened or intimidated.

      2) Be an upstander.
      Upstander – n: an individual who takes action to assist others to prevent sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking.

      Help start the movement to put an end to sexual violence at UC Davis. Post “I am a #UCDavisUpstander” and “#UConsent” to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Visit sexualviolence.ucdavis.edu for resources.


      Linda P.B. Katehi

      Adela de la Torre
      Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Campus Diversity

      Sam Alavi
      Director, ASUCD Office of Advocacy and Student Representation

      Ralph Washington, Jr.
      Chair, Graduate Student Association


    2. Alan Miller

      Comments before the City Council Tuesday Night

      I believe we need to focus on one thing:  nightclubs.

      We should define those clubs so we know what those characteristics are, and target those businesses.  Sit-down restaurants should not be roped into this, even if they serve alcohol.  I’m not even sure sit-down bars should be.  I also don’t think cutting back hours is any solution, and I don’t think wanding is a solution because the problems extend for blocks.

      Many people in town simply don’t know what post 11pm Davis Thursday and beyond is really like.  I’ve been there, downtown, late night, watching the change through the years.  There are problems with alcohol, always have been.  With the nightclubs, it’s like all those problems, on steroids.

      I know you can’t just wave a wand and say, ‘poof’, no more nightclubs.  I am hoping that the restrictions placed on the coming Blondie’s will work to make Blondie’s not what it is in Vacaville, and I hope there will be serious consideration of what restrictions will cut back or end the nightclub scene in general.

      If restaurants or bars have also ramped up in the violence during those same nightclub hours, I suspect this is because the crowds attracted to those nightclubs bar hop to through the restaurant and bar scene while in Davis.  With the nightclubs gone, my belief is that problems at those other venues will decrease as well.

      Let’s not harm Davis downtown nightlife; let’s recognize the problem business type itself and eliminate it.  I believe it’s only about five to six businesses, and rumor is one voluntarily shut down.  If the restrictions work over the next year, make those permanent and lift the moratorium.  But first Davis should road test the restrictions.  That’s why I urge you to support the full 1-year moratorium.

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