While it is fun and constructive to look back at the top local stories of 2021, it is equally interesting to forecast stories that seem likely to end up on the 2022 list. Here are 10 stories we think could be on it:
l COVID-19 eases. After more than two years of disrupting daily life in America, the coronavirus pandemic eased. Growing vaccination rates, approval of a new pill that reduces the disease’s most serious symptoms, and post-illness immunity and deaths among vaccine resisters all combined to make the pandemic less severe. By year’s end, fewer restrictions were in place, but people are still asked to wear masks and show proof of vaccination in limited situations.
l Inflation/economy. Robust consumer spending and continuing shortages due to manufacturing and supply chain issues kept inflation well above the Federal Reserve’s target. So the Fed raised interest rates, which led to increased costs of consumer borrowing, which led to ...
l Housing prices. For most of the 21st century, housing price increases outstripped local wage growth. Low interest rates allowed larger mortgages to remain affordable, so sales stayed hot. Higher interest rates in 2022 made mortgages more expensive, pricing more would-be buyers out of the market.
l Homelessness. The trend of increasing homelessness didn’t reverse itself in 2022, but several new approaches helped some of the unhoused. A large new shelter, Bertha Cain Baugh Place, opened in a former motel near Vancouver Mall. The city of Vancouver set up supported campsites and safe places for people who live in vehicles. More efforts will be needed in 2023.
l Waterfront Vancouver. Two new hotels and multiple new eating and drinking places opened at The Waterfront Vancouver. By year’s end, all of the available property, along with the adjacent Port of Vancouver development, had been spoken for, with multiple buildings under construction.
l Congressional elections. After well-financed, well-run campaigns by Democrat Carolyn Long in 2018 and 2020, this year the main challengers to Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Battle Ground, came from her right. The campaigning was particularly intense before the August primary as former President Donald Trump endorsee Joe Kent, state Rep. Vicki Kraft, and “The Busy Mom” author/blogger Heidi St. John all took their shots at unseating the six-term incumbent.
l Clark County Fair. After a two-year absence due to the pandemic, “Summer’s Best Party” opened Aug. 5 for a 10-day run. With all of the familiar experiences, it seemed as if it had never left.
l Bridge project prospects. Congress approved President Joe Biden’s infrastructure bill, and the state Legislature finally got a transportation package funded in 2022, raising prospects for an Interstate 5 Bridge replacement. But, as with the former Columbia River Crossing, the devil may lie in the details.
l Police body cameras. Vancouver police began wearing cameras to record critical incidents. Meanwhile the Clark County Council continues to dither over a program for sheriff’s deputies, with funding the main issue.
lLarge corporate headquarters. At least one large new employer announced plans to relocate to a new development in Clark County. Possible sites: Riverview Gateway (aka the Old Fisher Quarry along Highway 14); a tall new building south of the Vancouver Community Library; or redevelopment of a square block in the area bounded by Mill Plain and McLoughlin boulevards between Broadway and Columbia streets.