By Zohd Khan
DAVIS — During a public hearing held at the Dec. 1 city council meeting, Assistant City Manager Ashley Feeney encouraged the council to renew the Downtown Business Improvement District (DBID) budget and collect a DBID assessment for the 2021-2022 fiscal year.
Feeney explained that the DBID proceeds are used for “both the downtown and for other activities that benefit district businesses.”
Each year, the city also authorizes the Davis Downtown Business Association (DDBA) to prioritize and administer the use of the DBID assessments. The continuation of this process into the upcoming year (2021-2022) was another recommendation made by Feeney Tuesday night.
Feeney explained that the DDBA has “really stepped up in helping to support their members, the downtown businesses that have been impacted by this ongoing pandemic.”
Feeney also reported that as of Tuesday’s meeting, the city had not received any letters protesting renewal of the DBID budget plan, which signifies a general acceptance of the plan thus far.
Such an acceptance was evident amongst the councilmembers, who expressed great acclaim for the DDBA’s recent efforts in aiding businesses in downtown Davis.
Councilmember Dan Carson stated “the progress DDBA has made in the last year, in its organization and efforts, is astonishing” and that “the work they put in to Open Davis” was very helpful. Carson cited the Healthy Davis Together Initiative and the Gifting Stimulus or “Gift Card” program as specific instances of the DDBA’s helpfulness recently.
Along with Carson, other councilmembers commended Brett Maresca, Executive Director of the DDBA, for his leadership during a time “where everyone is hurting” from the COVID-19 pandemic.
One public comment from Alan Hirsch, who advocated for the implementation of more trees into Downtown Davis, offered various reasons to support his proposal, including the need to provide shade as the Davis temperatures continue to increase as a result of climate change.
In addition, he argued that adding more trees Downtown would encourage increased pedestrian window shopping/lingering, which would mean more activity and energy for businesses in Davis’ downtown. This concept would also apply to parking, as locals would be more inclined to park in shaded areas.
Hirsch further explained that for executing this tree integration project, the city could use the 80 treeholes that he encountered while he was exploring downtown.
While planting these trees, Hirsch emphasized the need to plant them properly, and “to improve soil conditions so that they will grow faster.”
At the meeting, his slide presentation also revealed examples of streets Downtown where trees could be planted. He addressed the issues with Davis’ current trees, stating that they are “smaller trees, and they are hiding the buildings while not letting enough shade get in.”
Since Hirsch believed smaller trees hinder commerce due to the aforementioned issues, he believes that this plan would be beneficial in helping businesses throughout Davis.
Councilmember Will Arnold expressed optimism in Hirsch’s propositions. Arnold shared that earlier, he had the opportunity to meet with Hirsch, who showed Arnold the various things he discussed in the presentation. Arnold stated that he is “encouraged by a recent grant that we have received, and there may be an opportunity to do what was described [in the presentation].”
Arnold further acknowledged that tree planting season is during the earlier months of the year, so we are approaching the perfect opportunity to carry out Hirsch’s plan.