If you are like me, the past two years are kind of a blurry ride on a roller coaster. One minute all’s fine, the next it’s an existential crisis. We face an uncertain fate with a novel coronavirus; heroic scientists have devised a new vaccine in record time to save us all. Wait, here comes delta and omicron. Mask on; mask off. Rinse and repeat.

But hope springs eternal. Few of us knew the pandemic would last 22 months. This time last year I wrote of finding solace in new technologies that made virtual meetings, not to mention mRNA vaccines, possible. I suggested that, if nothing else, the pandemic had made us appreciate people more, including the young woman at the coffee shop and the guy who takes away our garbage.

That was and remains true. But it’s pretty cold comfort in a difficult time that shows no sign of ending soon.

This year, I want to look forward to more concrete good things on the horizon. The future will always be unpredictable. (Boy, don’t we know that now?) But here are some educated guesses about the months ahead.

Continued work toward more responsive policing. We’re moving beyond divisive rhetoric around “defunding the police” and “thin blue lines” to more common-sense proposals. Half Moon Bay is working with a nonprofit on a pilot to send social workers on some calls rather than a cop in body armor. Pacifica will soon release details of its officers’ past interactions with people of all backgrounds with an eye to uncovering patterns of profiling. And we were glad to see former Half Moon Bay Police Chief Don O’Keefe tapped to head the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services Law Enforcement Division. Can’t hurt to have a friend in high places in the event of an emergency. Lastly, San Mateo County Sheriff Carlos Bolanos comes up for reelection in June. Perhaps that is an opportunity.

We will make strides toward a more sustainable future. Did I write “strides”? OK, baby steps. The city of Half Moon Bay waded into the global crisis by phasing out gas appliances to limit production of greenhouse gases in the city and some reacted as if natural gas was an inalienable right. But inevitably, there is more of that on the way. Look at the growth in electric vehicles. Charging stations have popped up like pampas grass all along the coast. The county seems to be taking flooding and sea level rise more seriously with its OneShoreline initiative.

In more optimistic moments, it’s possible to see traffic easing across the coast. (OK, you have to squint.) More of us are working from home now than at the beginning of 2020. That continues to ease the daily commute for those who do need to go into work. Connect the Coastside, the exhaustive traffic plan for the San Mateo County Midcoast, will likely be approved by the Board of Supervisors in the spring and it may ultimately amount to a thoughtful rollout of infrastructure improvements. The city of Pacifica is in the midst of updating its General Plan, which provides a blueprint for development and outlines circulation through the town into the future. Fingers crossed.

And we will continue to learn to live with COVID-19. It’s becoming clear that the virus that haunts our days and our dreams is not going away. We will have to manage it, and that means believing in scientists who will monitor variants, update information about necessary booster shots, social distancing, workplace rules and on and on. But it is possible to get on with life as safely as possible. We’re learning how to travel amid the new reality, to attend school, to work and so on. We’re getting better at it. Schools served children better at the end of 2021 than they did in 2020.

We’re figuring it out. It’s a process. In 2022, may we get along better, be better citizens and better people. I will if you will.

— Clay Lambert

Clay Lambert is the editorial director for Coastside News Group. After years working at regional daily newspapers, he began as editor of the Half Moon Bay Review in 2004.

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