The Davis City Council on Tuesday night rejected a proposal to fluoridate the community's water.
The 4-1 decision came after debate that featured passionate voices from both sides of the issue.
Dozens of Davis residents voiced their opinions, showing deep division.
About half the speakers in the first 90 minutes of testimony expressed support for the idea. But the other half were clear: They wanted nothing to do with it.
Fluoridation is "safe, effective and cost-effective," said Kim Wallace, a member of a fluoride subcommittee for the Yolo County Health Council. Wallace, a local dentist, helped lead the pro-fluoridation argument.
Fluoridation is "certainly affordable for our city," he said, "and there's enough room in our existing rate structure that we can do this."
But one opponent said she objected to the government intrusion.
"We don't need people telling us what to do," said Samantha McCarthy of Davis. "We don't need other people making these decisions."
Many of those in attendance advertised their opposition with decals bearing the letter "F" inside a circle with a red slash through it. Others, in support, wore blue and green stickers that declared, "It's time for fluoride in our water."
The council consided the fluoridation proposal as a result of a recent decision to draw water from the Sacramento River. The surface water would supplant ground water, the city's historic water source. Ground water is deemed too costly to fluoridate. But advocates said surface water made fluoridation practical and affordable.
Some opponents, however, said they felt betrayed and that plans to pursue fluoridation as a result of switching to surface water were never shared with them.
Davis voters approved the city's massive Surface Water Project with Woodland in March. The project includes a joint-treatment facility that would start drawing river water in 2016.