Rex Parris (122766)

Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris recapped a number of innovative and environmentally-concious projects taking place in the city as part of his annual State of the City address.

Parris made the speech last week before the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce and framed the community’s progress in terms of “taking control of the future” and evolving to a more competitive mindset, he said, to allow the city and the Antelope Valley to “flourish” regionally, nationally and globally.

“The past several years have shaped who we are and where we are headed as a city,” Parris said. “Our achievements have been successful because we have refined our perspectives and our vision is to not only tackle the everyday needs of a sustainable city, but also to prepare ourselves for a global presence in a very competitive marketplace.”

Parris highlighted the city’s numerous approaches to impact local health and wellness. The addition of more than 300,000 square feet of new medical facilities (Kaiser Permanente, City of Hope and LA County High Desert Regional Care Center), along with the annual Lancaster Corporate Challenge and the new YOLO Wellness Challenge, he said, continues to provide Lancaster residents with available fitness as well as professional and personal motivation to “improve and excel” in maintaining healthy lifestyles.

In recognizing the need to increase safety and accountability at Lancaster’s transportation hub, Parris said city officials have negotiated with Metrolink and the County of Los Angeles to heighten service and protective measures at the downtown Metrolink station. He pointed to the addition of onboard officers and a security fence on site as having an immediate and dramatic impact on the integrity of the train’s service, along with passenger safety.

In partnership with the county and the local faith-based community, Parris announced that the previous High Desert Regional Care Center located on 60th Street West (south of Avenue I) is “on track” to be converted into a multi-service facility for the Antelope Valley’s homeless population.

On the renewable energy front, Parris said Lancaster remains on a “diligent path” to become a Net Zero city. Lancaster reportedly reached 54 percent of this goal before the end of 2014, and the city has helped numerous “green” advancements take place. These environmental steps, Parris explained, are designed to help contribute to the city’s long-term sustainability. The list includes the rollout of KB Home’s Zero House 2.0; the option of a “grey water” system for new homes; Nexus E-Water’s advanced system for capturing and reusing residential water, and the unveiling of BYD’s (Build Your Dreams) first 60-foot articulated electronic bus, named “The Lancaster” after its local production site.

The Community Choice Aggregate (CCA) program, Parris said, will allow Lancaster to “take control” of its power source(s) in order to give citizens control over their own energy resources. Lancaster will now offer its own utility service reportedly at a lower cost than Southern California Edison. It will begin in May and by October, Parris projected, “everyone in Lancaster will have the power to choose” the energy options which work best for them.

“Being able to provide this affordable, greener service to our citizens is a great incentive for pursuing Community Choice Aggregation,” Parris said. “The icing on the cake is the fact that becoming a CCA is a real ‘game changer’ for the city as well as the community at large.”