What? Not enough freeways?

THERE WERE PLANS to build new freeways down Beach Boulevard and along Pacific Coast Highway (Flickr/Alejadro C).

Continuing the “what-ifs” of West Orange County area and what “might have been.”

Rail transit: The Orange County Transportation Authority is now constructing – at great expense and some controversy – the OC Streetcar line that will link downtown Santa Ana to Harbor Boulevard in Garden Grove along the old Pacific Electric right-of-way.

But it could have been done two generations earlier and probably a lot cheaper. In 1984, Orange County voters rejected a one-cent sales tax measure that would have built a longer and more elaborate system from Santa Ana linking much of northern county with light rail all the way to the Los Angeles County line.

That followed on the 1974 defeat of a statewide measure to fund passenger rail projects all across California.

The impact on the OC of either of those proposals are incalculable. But we loved our cars too much to give them up, I guess.

More freeways: Orange Countians didn’t want mass transit, but they weren’t too happy about the alternative – more freeways – either. State transportation planners in the 1970s rolled out proposals for a wave of new roadways, including the proposed Beach Boulevard and Pacific Coast freeways.

The former would have paralleled (or perhaps been a double-decker project on top of Beach Boulevard) all the way to the beach. The latter was planned to run from Malibu to Huntington Beach and perhaps beyond.

As you might imagine, public outrage was deafening. The Garden Grove (22) Freeway, for example, wiped out millions of dollars of assessed valuation in its namesake city and helped create financial problems at City Hall for decades.

The effect on Surf City would have been –– what’s the word?– oh, yeah, incalculable.

The Mouse That (Almost) Didn’t Roar: Walt Disney originally planned on building a small “Kiddie Land” on a 16-acre lot near his studios in Burbank. But the city fathers didn’t want what they imagined to be a “carny-type” amusement park in their city, so Walt decided to gaze down the Santa Ana (5) Freeway to find a more receptive city: Anaheim.

No Disneyland would probably have meant no Angels, no stadium in Anaheim, no convention center, etc. And certainly no string of big hotels pumping tax money into Garden Grove’s treasury.

Note: There is no truth in the long-repeated legend that Walt Disney wanted to locate in Garden Grove but was rejected by city fathers. Mr. D wanted a location right on the “5” and there were no city fathers in GG when Disneyland opened in 1955 because Garden Grove was not incorporated until 1956.

But Disneyland just a few blocks further south on Harbor Boulevard? That’s the biggest local what-if of them all.

Jim Tortolano’s Retorts column is published on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

1 reply »

  1. Yes, I remember the discussion in the ol’ GG Journal about that. The streetcar to nowhere could/should have had a greater purpose.

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