When the Gates were first installed in 1980, they were simple tollbooths manned by a new city department, the Traffic Response Control Unit (TRCU). These booths were quickly automated to allow for faster payment and more efficient traffic flow. As the City experienced an immense population explosion in the 1990’s, known as The Population Flux, traffic patterns changed to focus on moving goods short distances in support of the increasing human density.
Around the turn of the century, as civic unrest between Districts escalated, walls and fences appeared, at times going up overnight. These unsanctioned structures were built primarily by District leaders using local funds. In 2003 when inter-district violence was at an all time high and City Hall could no longer ignore these structures, they responded by building a concrete mega-wall completely encircling District 05, home to the wealthy and City elite. At this time the Gates returned to being manually operated by humans 24-hours a day. The TRCU was assigned to all Gate crossings and renamed Security Traffic Response Control Force – STRC (pronounced Strike) Force. This sent a definitive message to the population – keep to your own District. Within months the Culture Clashes were a very real and recognized city-wide issue.
When the Gate System shifted to local governance in 2015, the gates/walls/fences/barriers/etc. all adapted to the specific needs of each District. These Gates are more than psychological borders between commonly understood socio-political differences. Some Gates are heavily fortified, still manned 24 hours a day by STRC force personnel. Some sit empty, covered by posters, ads and flyers. Others have become the outposts of criminals and graft.
The sole remaining continuity, shared by every Gate crossing in Palomar City, is the Gatecrasher lane – reserved for medical emergency vehicles. The Gatecrasher lane is revered and protected by everyone from the most corrupt City politician to the most beneficent crime lord.