For the Paramount Journal
What do you see as the opportunities and challenges facing Paramount in the year head?
Mayor Peggy Lemons:
Attracting new business to town presents both an opportunity and a challenge. Retailers, of course, provide us with the major portion of our tax base. Due in large part to the successful redesign of downtown, last year was big for new retailers coming in, specifically those with dining options. This trend has kept going into 2018, with Hambone’s BBQ near the high school’s 9th grade campus and, over on Downey Ave., Ono Hawaiian BBQ. There is more activity on the horizon,as two restaurants will join Clearwater Crossing at Paramount Blvd. and Alondra Blvd. – The Stinkin’ Crawfish and The Pizza Press.
Los Angeles Metro is initiating environmental studies and planning for the West Santa Ana Branch Transit Corridor, a 20-mile light rail line that would connect downtown L.A. to southeast L.A. County. The line will go through Paramount and include two stations here. While this is exciting in that it will bring public transit to our residents and provide economic development opportunities near the stations, it could provide challenges, too. Such a large project might have significant impacts on the City during the construction phase. This year we will closely watch as planning proceeds, and weigh in as we see fit.
A continuing challenge is air quality. There was good news last year, as the AQMD reported that “significant improvements” have been made on this issue since October 2016. We worked long and hard on a variety of things to help make that happen. One was through the City Council Air Quality Subcommittee, which spent a lot of time studying ways to make sure the problems related to metal businesses will be reduced in the future.One solution was radically revamping our zoning regulations and planning laws. The changes should go a long way toward controlling potential sources of polluting metals in town.
We have begun some partnerships in the area of recreation that will provide great opportunities for our young people this year. We have entered into an agreement with the YMCA Los Cerritos Branch to offer water safety classes at Paramount Park Pool for our 4-5 year olds. The Y will also be running a new youth basketball program in town. Then, we’ve turned over the operation of our local youth soccer leagues to the Paramount Youth Soccer Organization. These groups bring expertise and experience to benefit our residents.
There’s a big challenge facing our entire region, and that’s homelessness. The number of individuals on our streets in Paramount doubled from 2016 to 2017. The numbers found during the County’s survey in January haven’t come in yet. To help these people, we worked with two groups – the Home for Good Funders Collaborative and the County Homeless Initiative – and the City of Bellflower to get a $100,000 grant that we will split with our neighbor. The opportunity in the face of this challenge is to create a plan uniting community groups to find a solution to this issue.