By Lew Avera
Recently, there has been much statistical information in local newspapers regarding Orange County and its similarities and differences with the state of California and the United States. I found this extremely interesting, having been involved in civic and governmental activities at both the Orange County and San Clemente levels. I can remember evaluating some of the factors as far back as 12 years ago.
We live literally tucked away here in beautiful San Clemente with our many amenities and comfortable way of life. For any number of reasons, most of us probably have no perspective of how Orange County and San Clemente actually “fit together” or are “related” in a broader sense. This is not a negative conclusion but rather reflects on our satisfaction with our wonderful way of life in these difficult times around the world. Actually, we are part of one of the most powerful counties in the United States. For our very small physical size we have, arguably, one of the most amazing economic counties in the entire United States.
Orange County has a population of 3.2 million people. That statistic alone has very little meaning; however, it represents 8 percent of the approximate 40 million population of California, and it is the same population size as our next door neighbor, San Diego County.
This takes on even greater significance when compared with all counties across the entire United States. In terms of population, San Diego and Orange counties stand as the fifth and sixth largest counties in all of the United States. Los Angeles is the largest followed by Cook County Illinois (Chicago), a county in New Jersey next to New York City, and the county in Texas around Dallas and Fort Worth. What is even more astonishing is Orange County’s relatively small geographical size compared to Los Angeles and San Diego Counties and its other neighbors, Riverside and San Bernadino counties. What’s also astonishing is Orange County has no large metropolitan city, as is the case of the other large counties mentioned above. Our largest city is Santa Ana with a population of just more than 400,000, followed by Anaheim and Irvine.
San Clemente is one of 34 incorporated cities in Orange County with a population of some 65,000. This represents about 2 percent of the county’s population, and compared to other cities in the county, is a “median” city. Half of the cities in the county are larger and half of the cities are smaller.
There is so much more to say about this subject. Population is just one factor, but what about economic activity, wealth, growth, future changes, happiness and satisfaction of the people? There just isn’t space to cover all of these in a single edition so they will be covered in the next edition.
In closing this chapter, I want to emphasize that the focus here has been on Orange County. Of course, this has little meaning until we relate it to our own lives and expectations locally here in San Clemente. This will be part of the next article; however, I think having the broader perspective expands our ability to put our lives in San Clemente in perspective.
Lew Avera is a retired career officer, Lt. Col., U.S. Marine Corps. He has been a director of the Talega HOA since 2003 and served on the San Clemente Planning Commission from 2005 to 2013.