Whenever the year 2000 is mentioned--in print, in public agency reports and in everyday conversations--that magically numbered year leaves the impression of being a long way off.
But only less than a dozen years away, the countdown aura of the century's last year must be one of the most often used dates of our time.
The World Future Society's bimonthly magazine, The Futurist, predicts that Los Angeles will be among 25 of the world's largest cities in the year 2000, and that only six such mega-cities are projected to be in developed nations.
This city's present population of 3.2 million will grow to 4 million in the next 12 years, "while explosive urban growth in developing nations will continue relentlessly over the next decades," the publication reports.
Other, more conservative guesses for the city's total population by 2000 place the count at a mere 3.5 million.
If you feel crowded now, be patient. There's no letup ahead.
Such figures and the concerns they represent for the city's--and the area's--future, provide real fodder for immediate planning for the future, unlike the present emotional electioneering over growth issues.
Southern California's natural attractions, its diverse economy, its social service programs and its glamour, continue to beckon people from everywhere.
California Department of Finance data shows that l987 produced the largest one-year jump in population since the World War II year of 1943 and pushed the state's population to 27.6 million. The net migration total of 380,000 was the largest since 1942-43.
The state's 1987 increase of 662,000 people represented a growth of 2.5% over 1986, based on fiscal year tabulations, and showed a natural (more births than deaths) increase of 282,000, largest ever in the state.
Of course, Los Angeles County attracted the largest segment --153,000 newcomers--to push the county population to 8.4 million.
The department's report noted that two-thirds of the state's population increase took place in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego and Sacramento counties.
We know that earthquakes, floods, fires, power outages, a crime wave, our dubious position as the drug capital, our perennial traffic congestion, unhealthful-air problems and lack of rapid transit, and now a drought alarm and even lackluster professional football teams, will not deter newcomers, either from other states or other nations.
So, what do we do? Since we are here already, where thousands of others seem to be headed, let's stay put, try to age gracefully and maybe buy more real estate.