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Apologies, LA, but the Inland Empire is only going to get bigger until 2060

You may have read that Los Angeles County is now predicted to lose population by 2060. That’s based on a new report from the state Finance Department’s demographics unit. A new forecast shows the county of 10 million might lose 1.7 million people, while gaining elbow room.

An L.A. County of 8.3 million, incidentally, would be a return to 1985 population levels. I’ll bet it was nice then.

But what of the Inland Empire?

Brace yourselves: We’re expected to keep growing through 2060 without pause.

You might think that would have been part of the news, maybe even a major part. Sorry, that’s not how outsiders roll when it comes to the IE. But that’s why I’m here. (In case you were wondering.)

Riverside and San Bernardino counties, which were said in the report to stand at a combined 4.5 million people in 2016, will grow to 5.7 million by 2036 and 6.8 million by 2060. That’s a growth rate of 1% and will put both among the Top 10 fastest-growing counties in the state.

California’s population is expected to remain flat through 2060 at 39.5 million, by the way. The IE will grow because people will continue moving here.

In fact, during the pandemic, the two-county Inland Empire appears to have overtaken the five-county Bay Area to become the state’s second-largest metropolitan area. How about that?

To quote an analysis of the report from the site New Geography: “The dispersion related to the pandemic led to greater population growth in the Riverside-San Bernardino metropolitan area, which has passed San Francisco to take over second place.”

I wouldn’t look for the IE to have SF levels of political clout or cash anytime soon, but clearly we are on the rise.

In sum: As befits our regal name, the Inland Empire will rule for decades to come.

Remember, you read it here first.

Walking-around money

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The statue of Mahatma Gandhi on Riverside's Main Street would be part of an 18-stop Civil Rights Walk under a plan that won state funding. (Photo by David Allen, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)
The statue of Mahatma Gandhi on Riverside’s Main Street would be part of an 18-stop Civil Rights Walk under a plan that won state funding. (Photo by David Allen, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

Riverside’s plans to link the six statues along downtown’s pedestrian mall have taken, shall we say, a step forward. That’s because the project got a $3.2 million grant from the California Transportation Commission.

(From a transportation commission? Foot traffic is still traffic, I guess.)

I’ve been following these statues, so to speak. First I wrote about the origin of the statues, which a decade ago were called “a social-justice walkway” by the then-mayor. Next I wrote about the grant application to make a bigger deal out of the statues and, by extension, the Inland Empire’s role in civil rights.

The idea is to highlight not only the statues — figures of Cesar Chavez, Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi and others — but various sites around downtown to create a Civil Rights Walk. A 1.8-mile loop with 18 stops is contemplated.

Among the sites: the Asian American landmark Harada House, the statue of Medal of Honor winner Ysmael Villegas, the site of the city’s original Chinatown and the new Inland Civil Rights Institute.

An expanded loop would include at least six more stops, among them Evergreen Cemetery, the original Riverside Unified School District headquarters and the empty lot that was the final Chinatown settlement.

Envisioned are pavement markings and location markers, as well as enhanced crosswalks and other touches to make the route obvious and its navigation safe.

City Hall expects to spend the next year completing the plans and specifications, according to Nathan Mustafa, the deputy public works director. That includes a final determination of the sites to be included. The city would then award bids in 2025 and unveil the trail in late 2026.

Three years from now? That seems like a long time. But Riverside pitched this as an Inland Empire version of Boston’s famed Freedom Trail. The extended timeline makes me think a thoughtful effort is intended, much more than stickers slapped on a sidewalk.

Mayor Patricia Lock Dawson agrees. She says there’s plenty of work ahead.

“We need to figure out a coherent design; figure out the messaging, the interpretation, with our museum officials; and decide on the materials: a brick walk or some kind of visual cue to lead you from one to another,” Lock Dawson tells me.

“It’s not going to be superficial,” she adds.

Take all the time necessary. The statues aren’t going anywhere.

’round Riverside

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• After multiple delays, Riverside’s indie bookstore Cellar Door Books is poised to reopen after its relocation to the Mission Grove shopping center. Its first scheduled event is Aug. 19 and a soft opening is expected prior to that. The store closed May 6 in the Canyon Crest center in preparation for the move.

• Riverside Art Museum officials accepted the National Medal for Museum and Library Service in Washington, D.C., from Jill Biden last month. RAM (with its little brother, The Cheech Center) was among eight museums or libraries around the nation so honored. You can tell the ceremony was a big deal because Cheech Marin wore a suit.

• Lots of responses rolled in after my Wednesday column on the burning question of when or if the Beach Boys performed in Riverside in 1962. I’ll see if any more wash to shore before sifting through them here.


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Diana Marcum, a Pulitzer winner from the L.A. Times who died Aug. 9 at age 60, grew up in Loma Linda and had her first news writing jobs at The Sun in San Bernardino and at the Desert Sun in Palm Springs in the 1990s, according to her obituary. Marcum had attended Crafton Hills College in Yucaipa without finishing, but that didn’t hold her back. “I didn’t get through college. I didn’t have any of the right credentials,” she told a post-Pulitzer interviewer in 2015. “But I could write. People seemed to think I could write.” Readers agreed.

David Allen pays tribute Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. Email [email protected], phone 909-483-9339, like davidallencolumnist on Facebook and follow @davidallen909 on Twitter.


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