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San Clemente Journal

The Future of Yesterday

Jan 01, 2011 10:57PM ● Published by Brian O

by Don Kindred

The Future of Yesterday. I interviewed for a corporate job once, my last year of college. I figured what the heck, I had an in, somebody knew somebody. I was going to graduate in a couple of months, I needed to get serious with my life. Maybe this was it ... and I already had a tie. 

During the interview and still today, I can’t tell you what the company did, 'Service Something', big building in the Valley, we met on the sixth floor. I got lost in the talk about stock options and retirement plans. I think basically you started off cleaning toilets and then you got to sell them.

I was thinking more about how my inherent claustrophobia was going to deal with those little cubicles. While the interviewer and I got along fine, I’m sure I lost the opportunity to climb that particular corporate ladder when it came to one simple question ... he asked where I wanted to be in 10 years.

Hell, I didn’t even know what I wanted for lunch. I hadn’t looked that far in my future yet. That was like half my life away, it was like knowing exactly where you’d graduate college when you were twelve. I came from a family that didn’t plan dinner until dinnertime and tomorrow didn’t start until morning.

Now, of course, my friends in the corporate world are counting down the short years to their retirements and I’m trying to write a story the day before press. But I’m certain there’s a message here. Planning can be a good thing. At the dawn of a new decade, the City of San Clemente is faced with the same question. Where do we want to be in 10 years? Beyond? The principle objective for the update of the General Plan, mandated by California Law, is the monumental task of trying to to anticipate the needs and desires of citizens who aren’t even born yet, and who will no doubt be blessed with technology that doesn’t currently exist.  At the same time we must instill a sense of our heritage and a desire to maintain and preserve our historic resources. No small thing. 

When the last (full) General Plan was updated in 1992,  Johnny Carson was hosting the Tonight Show,  Talega was that empty field where Avenida Pico ended and the world wide web was in diapers. It’s time to update it. Toward that end, the city has just completed a cross-section study of our community in an effort to begin forming a picture of where we want to be when we’re done, when we reach the historic milestone known as build out and will turn our attention toward sustainability.  The Vision and Strategic Plan was a worthy attempt by the City Council to draw in as much public input as possible during the process; questionnaires were circulated, meetings conducted, focus areas defined, data collected, reports written. And what do the people want for the future? Yesterday.

While our population has almost doubled since the early 90’s, (it grew by about 20,000 in just the last decade) the comments paint a familiar picture. They read like a San Clemente brochure from 1925.  We like the beach, we like open space, we like the pier, we like trails, we like red tile and white plaster and the sense of village created by common architecture, we like recreation and getting the “healthy joy out of life”. Basically, according to 97% of us, we like San Clemente.  Of course we face the challenges of traffic reduction, job creation and getting more people to shop in town. But as we go through this plan-updating process, we can’t help but marvel at what a small group of visionaries planned and painted on this once-clean canvas 85 years ago. Ole Hanson, Ham Cotton, Tom Murphine and the boys would all be proud of what we’ve become. Their original vision of a sustainable village way down in San Clemente is still being validated today. 

As daunting as the task may be, changing a tire is easier than inventing a wheel.

And yesterday’s not a bad plan, ... if we can keep all the computers and stuff. Enjoy,it seems they think pretty much like the rest of us. If you’re not involved, your not involved.

Community, Local History publisher's message november december january 2010
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