Definition: the process of improving or developing something over a period. It also means “moving ahead.”

Every year the Champion takes great pride in compiling the community’s progress since the year before. We do so at the risk of being challenged by those who don’t look at all change as being progress. Perspective has a lot to do with it.

When I hear people bemoan “what has happened to our community,” I think, but don’t say too loudly, “Yeah, and guess how nice it was before you came here.” Then I remember what they said about me coming here 63 years ago, “wet behind the ears,” a stranger bent on improving things. More like “changing things” in their point of view. But I wondered then, “Why are so many of the young people moving away?”

That was Chino before having a supermarket. Before Central Avenue had a divider, or even a traffic signal. When the prison was out in the country. There were no freeways. Outsiders could, and did, avoid Chino because it wasn’t on the road to anywhere. Even the passenger train didn’t go through any more. Not the way Richard Gird planned it when he started the place.

Earlier it was Chino before the influx of dairies, or the opening of the freeways. Chino Valley before the development in Chino hills, which were basically home to deer and other wildlife. Before a hospital was built.

When the city’s trash was burned at the old city dump on the present Jesus Villa Park (named for our first resident south of Fifth Street).

I remember Chino before it had a city manager form of government, as sought after growth descended.

There was a time early on when progress meant the automobile taking over from horses, and the streets were then paved. When the city put in a sewer system to replace outhouses. More progress when the old cannery came in to bolster the economic base after the sugar beet factory closed. It was progress when the town got a separate junior high, and when the D Street School integrated as the first Marshall Elementary. Then when the highly rated school system drew new residents.

It was progress when Chino residents stopped going to Pomona for groceries and furniture and the telephone company stopped charging extra for a call to Ontario.

When the county took hold of Chino Airport, giving the community a general aviation facility.

Progress was when Chino started building parks including the large Ayala community park. The county developed Prado Regional Park and the state designated the Chino Hills State Park.

It was progress when Chino Hills incorporated to give local control to the fast growing hill area. And progress when Chaffey College built a branch here.

Last year the Roundup said “Progress has a bifurcated meaning for people. Generally, it involves improvement or betterment, usually associated with economic growth. But such growth doesn’t mean progress to everyone. It can mean disruption of an established way of life that has fit a person or a family very nicely to date. 

“We see this in the battle to keep Chino Valley rural and open in face of state policies pushing for lower cost housing and elimination of homelessness, and local pressure to increase business activity for its economic and tax benefits.

“Chino and Chino Hills are caught in the middle. Both cities have abandoned early attempts to limit densities and sign clutter, and to do away with warehouse industries (now called “logistics”) that pay minimum incomes. Even cannabis is challenging old, traditional values, promising to boost government treasuries.”

Guess what: The same situation is still with us. Residents are confronted with an even greater push at the state level to overturn local zoning which seeks to limit extensive and more crowded home growth. The quarter-acre lot with house, grass lawn in front and outdoor activity space in back with elbow room from the neighbors, has gone the way of Dick and Jane of grandma’s day.

Chino and Chino Hills have wonderful educational, recreation and activity opportunities. Progress today would be measured in better living conditions brought on by better job opportunities, less commuting time and distances. And keeping open space like Tres Hermanos Ranch. 

The price of progress is more change from more people who want those things, too. True progress is how we handle moving ahead.

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