Community Forum Held to Improve Safety in Davis After Bar Stabbing

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DAVIS --

Another round served in the intensifying Davis debate about the enjoyment of G Street night spots that serve alcohol and safety on streets surrounding them.

"All I've noticed is kids getting drunker, sicker... deader. And it's not right, and it's not gonna change until we get serious about alcohol in this town," said one woman at a Tuesday night community meeting on the matter held at the police department.

"That's a big problem. There's no students in this room right now ... other than the two on the panel," said one UC Davis graduate after asking for a show of hands from students in the room.

It's the 1:30 a.m. discovery of Peter Gonzales' body after he'd been stabbed that's had the issue of safety on G Street frothing for almost three weeks.

The 22-year-old was killed during a fight at the KetMoRee bar and restaurant on the night before his sister's wedding.

Since Gonzales' murder, the city of Davis has placed a moratorium on the opening of new night spots that serve alcohol.

No one disagrees that the attack by out-of-town suspects now under arrest is tragic, but there's plenty of disagreement about the city's new stance.

"I just think they're kind of overreacting about this whole situation," said UC Davis student and bartender Kelsie Zimmerer.

FOX40 caught her out along G Street early in the afternoon.

Howard Chang, who works in Davis, was taking an afternoon walk with his 15-year-old son.

"It does seem like a pretty high rate of incidents at the bars, so I don't think it's an overreaction," Chang said.

"I don't think most people understand that at 1 a.m. Thursday to Friday there are more people on G Street than during the busiest times of the day," said Davis' Assistant Police Chief Darren Pytel.

As the community debates the matter, more G Street restrictions are being considered, like 11 p.m.closing times, with lights out even earlier on holidays like Halloween.

Bar owners have been meeting to come up with their own solutions.

Several have just agreed to share payment for on-street, patrolling security -- and that's not all.

"One of the ideas we came up with ... we just received the wands today. We're gonna start wanding people checking for knives or guns or whatever," said panelist Sergio Saenz, the owner of Tres Hermanas.

That may work, but Zimmerer says the effort to dry up the area's alcohol-related problems may actually tap a worse scenario.

"They don't want to open any new nightclub businesses. Basically what you're doing is just keeping all the current bars that are open for late night as packed as they are. I'm a bartender, and we get really busy at night, so you're just letting more people build up, more pressure build up and that's when situations happen," she said.

There was a lot of talk at Tuesday night's meeting about how society's focus on alcohol and celebrating 21st birthdays with it needs to change.

Suggestions for Davis to recruit some late-night businesses for G Street that have nothing to do with alcohol may be the closest the city can get to that kind of change.