I was about to write that this column is the Independent's Christmas wish list, but then I realized that Dec. 25 will have passed by the time the paper hits the newsstand. It will also barely miss Hanukkah.
Kwanzaa, maybe? Well, never mind any particular holiday. Here's what we'd like to see happen in Huntington Beach and Fountain Valley in 2012:
1. Fewer alcohol problems. This year saw several positive developments after a January report showed Huntington to have an abnormally high number of alcohol-related injury traffic collisions. Some restaurants initiated new policies to curb DUI and crowding problems, and a group of business owners announced plans to form a nonprofit and offer certification classes to bar and restaurant employees.
All good signs. So in 2012, let's put our heads together and get those DUI numbers down. Way down. That effort will require diligent police work and prudent business practices, but also responsible behavior by those who patronize Surf City's bars — and, more importantly, return home from them. Keep in mind that every designated driver or taxi ride may be another life saved.
2. The last wetlands restored. For more than two decades, the Huntington Beach Wetlands Conservancy has acquired and cleaned the native coastal lands, and just one major piece — the 44-acre Newland Marsh by Beach Boulevard and Pacific Coast Highway — remains outside of its control.
Caltrans, which owns the property, has started the process of making it available for state agencies, and the California State Coastal Conservancy has expressed a desire to buy the marsh and donate it to the nonprofit. If that pans out, it will be a victory for those who have worked for years to restore Huntington's coast, not to mention a gift for generations ahead.
3. Another colorful City Council election. The last election, in 2010, pulled out all the stops in terms of the number and variety of candidates — one introduced himself to voters at Redboxes, one painted campaign signs on dried palm fronds, and another was 17 years old.
Granted, candidates like that are always longshots, and none of them came close to winning. But an eclectic ballot serves as proof of democratic freedom, and we hope more offbeat contenders will enter the fray next year.
4. Some kind of preservation for the Wintersburg Japanese Presbyterian Church. The Orange County Historical Society has called this long-vacated property the most important Asian historic site in the county. Rainbow Environmental Services, which owns the parcel, has applied to the city to rezone it and demolish the church and other structures, but the company has offered to help pay for relocation if the community plans to move them.
That could be an expensive and complicated endeavor, so we won't get our hopes up too much. But considering the role Asian immigrants played in founding Huntington Beach, it would be wonderful to preserve as many of their tracks as possible.
5. A design for the 9/11 memorial. The police and fire associations obtained a pair of World Trade Center girders this year and are seeking a design that incorporates both of them, avoids religious messages and names the locations of the 9/11 attacks. What fledgling artist wouldn't want that on his or her resume?
6. New digs for the Woman's Club. A fire gutted the group's 101-year-old clubhouse in April and left the members to use temporary meeting locations. Whether through fundraising or a generous donor, let's hope these ladies get a consistent roof over their heads by 2013.
7. A repeat for Ocean View Little League. The excitement surrounding Huntington's boys of summer cries out for an encore. Of course, if Surf City can't produce a baseball champion this year, maybe it can borrow one through a name change. Would the Huntington Beach Angels of Anaheim be too much to ask?