Retorts: The future is soon

THE OCSTREETCAR “starter” line should be completed in 2023, with operation in 2024 (OCTA image).

Time travel has long been a popular fantasy … who hasn’t imagined traveling into the future to see what it holds for us, or going back into the past to right a wrong or simply to watch history being made?

The move from December to January is a kind of time travel … you fell asleep in 2022 and the next day you woke up in 2023.

It’s appropriate, then, to pause at this time of year to ruminate and speculate about how the coming year is going to treat our West Orange County communities of Garden Grove, Huntington Beach, Stanton and Westminster.

As we’ve reported in The Tribune, the councils – and possibly – the populations – of Huntington Beach and Westminster are deeply divided. The majority holds a one-vote advantage on each council, and (from early reactions) the splits there are likely to breed a maximum of disorder and stunted progress.

How will Westminster fairly settle the never-ending saga of the proposed Quang Tri monument, which seems to have done more to stir up divisions than honor the accomplishments and sacrifices it’s intended to acknowledge?

In Huntington Beach, the new council majority seems set on battling the state of California on a series of fronts, including especially the RHNA (regional housing needs assessment) which require a city to zone for additional housing units.

Surf City has been handed an RHNA of 13,337 new units. Some say that the RHNA numbers – Garden Grove, for example, has a higher target although it’s a smaller city – defy rational calculation and interfere with local control.

Both of those points may have merit, but here’s the problem: fighting Sacramento in court is bound to be both an expensive proposition and a losing one. At the end of the day, the likely outcome is that the taxpayers will be handed a hefty bill for litigation and still have to comply.

It reminds one of the the City of Anaheim’s futile legal battle to keep the Angels from being renamed the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The end result was more BMW’s for the barristers and no success. As one observer quipped, Anaheim’s lawyers needed lawyers.

We may hate being told what to do, but we definitely love our cars. They are symbols of status, represent our diverse needs and offer us a lot of freedom of movement.

At least they used to. As you’ve probably noticed lately, the streets and freeways are getting more crowded than ever. A look around suggests that we are probably maxed out on how many freeways we can build or widen.

OC Streetcar is under construction and is likely to be completed in 2023, with operation for the public coming in 2024.  Although it’s a relatively short route – from downtown Santa Ana to Harbor Boulevard in Garden Grove is 4.15 miles – it’s likely the first link in a bigger system.

I love my car, but I hope I can take note of reality. Increasing numbers of people can’t or don’t have private cars. Many seniors don’t drive, many people can’t afford insurance and young people are delaying or avoiding getting a driver’s license.

At the same time, truck traffic appears to be booming and concerns about climate change increase pressure to stop building one-person internal combustion machines.

Just as 2022 was different from 2021, so will the future make our needs different than they were five or 10 years ago.

Lots of stuff is going to change. Our area will get denser and there will be changes in how we get from one place to another. The skin color of our neighbors will continue to go from monochrome to rainbow. The world we grew up with will yield to a new one.

The future is coming right at us. As they used to say in the old “Star Trek” shows, “Brace for impact!”


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