Guest Commentary: Priorities for the Davis Downtown


By Ezra Beeman

My key priorities for the Davis Downtown excluding addressing anti-social behavior are:

  1. Neighborhood preservation
  2. Community-led planning
  3. Progressive, world class leadership in transportation, energy, waste, water, etc.
  4. Improve business conditions and City revenues

Neighborhood Preservation

If we go higher than 3 stories, we may lose our small-town feel and the ambiance of our downtown. Many have moved to Davis for its small-town charm.

I would look to accommodate any necessary growth through a more incremental approach, which preserves our neighborhoods, including downtown.

We also need to think very carefully about the impact of more people living downtown on its current focus as our entertainment center. The two concepts could conflict due to noise from the nightlife, etc., which Downtown businesses rely on.

Community Input

I think we need to proactively engage our community and determine what it wants, and then implement it effectively and transparently, so that the City can be held accountable.

Going door to door, many residents worry we may be making downtown too much of a focus, at the expense of the distributed commercial districts around our fringe, which also help reduce congestion and improve quality of life.

The City needs to go out to people to get this kind of input. Most people do not have the time to attend a series of workshops, yet their concerns must be reflected in the plan if it is to truly reflect the community.

Moving to more a pedestrianized downtown could make a lot of sense, and there appears to be strong community support for it based on my discussions.  We will need to address issues of access for the mobility impaired, and impacts on businesses, including how deliveries are made.

Progressive, World Class Leadership in Transportation, Parking, etc.

Parking congestion in Davis is due to too many cars relative to parking infrastructure. My plans for alleviating traffic congestion in the near and longer-term are therefore to:

  • Ensure businesses are obtaining X parking permits for their staff, to ensure that staff are not taking up prime downtown parking.
  • Restripe more downtown roads to increase parking capacity.
  • Implement parking location technology so that it is easier for drivers to locate spare parking (the parking structure on 4th is often empty). I have seen a tender issued for something like this by the City, which is great.
  • Improve bicycle thoroughfares to encourage more able-bodied people to bike rather than drive their vehicles downtown.
  • Longer-term, I would advocate to make Davis a hub for automated vehicles and ride sharing, which research (I can share) shows will dramatically reduce the need for parking, car ownership and congestion. Automation could be used for a delivery service, so that people would not need to bring their cars into downtown for their heavy purchases.

Business Conditions and City Revenues

Making Davis a world leader in housing, water, waste, energy, transportation, etc. will make it an attractive place to invest. I am running to support this agenda.

More market research of our community’s needs and spending habits is needed to identify gaps in our current business offerings. I plan on undertaking more market research to identify where Davis businesses are under-serving our community, to attract establishment of these businesses within the Davis city limits to earn more from sale taxes.

More prioritization of City spending on local businesses is also needed, which I believe is justifiable on the basis of the multiplier effect within the community. I would support developing an economically justifiable policy in this respect.

Ezra Beeman is a candidate for Davis City Council

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Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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