Monday, May 2, 2011

OND Assoc. Letter to UCD Officials on Picnic Day, 2011 (38), by the Old North Davis Neighborhood Association

Steve Tracy, President and Members of the Board
Old North Davis Neighborhood Association
Davis, California 95616

Fred Wood
Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs
University of California at Davis
One Shields Avenue
Davis, CA 95616-8507

May 2, 2011

Dear Vice Chancellor Wood:  

Following discussion at the April 28 meeting of the Old North Davis Neighborhood Association (ONDNA) Board, we are writing to you to describe a few of the unfortunate incidents that took place in our neighborhood during the most recent University Picnic Day festivities (Saturday, April 23, 2011).  Our descriptions come from complaints we have received, made by residents of Old North Davis who witnessed and suffered them.  Overall they represent for neighbors of the University a partial breakdown in civil society on Picnic Day, prompting our decision to take this action.  We chose you as our point of contact due to your position in the University as Chancellor of Student Affairs. 

Negative contacts with generally drunken celebrants throughout the Neighborhood boundaries -- 5th Street on the south, 7th to the north, B to the railroad tracks west to east -- are identified here by street number:  

648 B Street: A student party attracted roughly 200 drinking, shouting, screaming and otherwise loud and obnoxious party goers, a mountain of trash was left in public view into the following day.  An indigent recycler, not student residents, cleared away the beer cans.

603 C Street (corner 6th and C):  Large SUVs parked at the curb, both men and women passengers got out of the cars, engaged in yelling obscenities; men urinated and defecated in resident's yard with female resident in plain view.   Coordinating by cell phone with partygoers not in view, they left.  In a second incident at this location, intoxicated youths walked into neighborhood, had a physical fight on a neighbor's sidewalk and then on the pavement of the street over who was to drive and risk the DUI.  The fight ended when a police paddy wagon, driving down 6th Street, caused combatants to scatter.   Intoxicated women companions cried and screamed in and around the melee pleading for it to stop.  Overheard conversation led the ONDNA resident to conclude they had driven off the freeway into Davis, parking at Borders before drinking downtown and wandering into Old North Davis. 

Heavy foot traffic on 6th Street and C Street, and in the alley between C and B Streets was constant all day.   Cars speeding on C and 6th Streets attained speeds of perhaps 40 mph.   Yelling, screaming and disconcertingly frequent crying continued until after dark.  No citations or arrests made, despite numerous calls to police.

528 C Street (mid 500’s block):  Student parties at 522 C Street, 536 C Street and 523 D Street (behind resident's home) generated, loud drunken shouting, screaming, crying and frequent obscenities heard throughout the block.  

601 D Street (corner 6th and D Street):  Resident interrupted youths in act of bending young street tree to the ground in an effort to break it and was verbally assaulted for asking them to stop.  Partiers were interrupted by residents in the act of urinating/defecating in alley between C and D Streets throughout day.  Frequent police calls from 601 D Street and 537 D Street resulted in a round of patrols by police vehicles including a paddy wagon along 6th Street, something we had not seen prior to this year’s event.  

611 E Street (mid 600s):  This resident, living just to south of City well-head lot, described a student party, lasting from morning until late in night, where volume and frequency of obscenities led parents to keep grade school age children in the house the entire day.  

Corner of E Street and 5th, and D Street & 5th:  Old North Davis signage was stolen from atop street sign poles and three complete signposts vandalized.

522 E Street:  Residents complained of drinking, noise and poor conduct beginning at 10am continuing until 9pm, young women throwing up in the street gutter, young women urinating on a garden.  Resident stated that the noise, obnoxious and discourteous as well as unsanitary behaviors were unchanged from Picnic Day of a year ago.  

513 F Street (near 5th):  Centennial plaque erected by homeowner at his expense and initiative was vandalized and smashed to the ground.  

We have read the summary of crimes, citations, and arrests in the staff report that is going to the Davis City Council for Tuesday night’s meeting.  Most of those same crimes occurred in Old North Davis on Picnic Day at multiple locations involving multiple individuals.  A summary of crimes observed by our residents on Picnic Day include at a minimum:  Public Intoxication, DUI, Fighting, Domestic Violence, Open Container of Alcohol in a Public Place, Littering, and Violations of City's Noise Ordinance.  Yet all this criminal acticity in our neighborhood resulted in no arrests or even citations listed in the staff report.

We did not set out to collect these kinds of observations; they were a spontaneous outpouring due to an intolerable situation lasting throughout the day and well into the next morning.  Safety measures implemented by the City did not change typical party behaviors, but appear to have pushed them out of the safe zone and into our adjacent residential neighborhood.  The ONDNA Board concludes that our Neighborhood’s wellbeing on Picnic Day has now been degraded beyond a point we can tolerate.  The degree of public intoxication and deliberate over-consumption of alcoholic beverages and other recreational drugs is now ubiquitous.  The spontaneously increasing size of neighborhood parties exceeds hosts’ abilities to enforce, even if they wish to control it, minimum standards of behavior on severely intoxicated guests.  Both present difficulties for law enforcement.  The abundance of alcohol and parties draws increasing numbers of out-of-town participants making local planning for damage control increasingly futile.  Our yards and gardens become toilets.  Heavy intoxication of party- goers resulting in distraught sobbing, particularly by young women, suggests a significant amount of emotional injury to add to reports of groping and other kinds of physical assault.  The University has not succeeded in engaging students with on-campus activities and they, and the growing off-campus contingent, populate off campus parties.  The University should not host an event that has come to be this ugly, one that it cannot control.  

We acknowledge both the University and the City have made efforts to reduce the offensive and threatening nature of the celebration, as it is now practiced off campus by students, joined in growing numbers by a drop-in population.  If the University decrees a Picnic Day for 2012, Old North will ask that the City extend the SEZ to include us and other neighborhoods threatened by student parties and out-of-towners.  We will ask that the campus and City police presence be elevated to levels adequate to prevent the kind of behaviors recorded above. 

UC Davis should also recognize the harm being done to the reputation of the campus, our neighborhood (among others) and the City.  We would like to see a return to a day that is celebrated with some decorum and respect for neighbors as well as enlarging upon the marvelous on-campus activities that were once its focus.  In short we hope for and expect a much more dramatic resolution and successful effort to control the hooliganism and thuggery that was abundant this year

Steve Tracy, President
Old North Davis Neighborhood Association

Board:  Dennis Dingemans, Kathleen Groody, Dan Quickert, Angela Willson, Raul Zamora, Sheryl Gerety

cc:  Linda Katehi, Chancellor UC Davis; John Meyer, Vice Chancellor for Administrative and Resource Management, UC Davis; Joe Krovoza, Mayor, City of Davis; Sue Greenwald, Council Member; Steven Souza, Council Member; Rochelle Swanson, Council Member; Dan Wolk, Council Member; Landy Black, Police Chief ; Paul Navazio, acting City Manager; Kelly Stachowicz, Deputy City Manager