Long Beach, Paramount End Dispute Over Horse Arena

Times Staff Writer

At the request of Long Beach officials, the City of Paramount has agreed to drop plans for annexation of a horse show arena in unincorporated Los Angeles County.

Long Beach officials say their city will annex the land, a county-owned strip that is a quarter of a mile long and 150 feet wide, with the intention of preserving access to the arena and adjacent riding trails for nearby residents.

Long Beach Councilman Warren Harwood, whose Ninth District includes North Long Beach, said that Long Beach City Manager John Dever informed him last week of the settlement.

The fate of the property, which borders both Paramount and Long Beach, had concerned residents who board more than 100 horses in houses facing Atlantic Place to the east. The houses are equipped with backyard stables facing the arena to the west. Eighteen of the homes are in Long Beach; two are in Paramount.

Paramount had plans to annex more than 90 acres of unincorporated land, including the arena site. The residents had been concerned that if Paramount controlled the zoning of the arena, a private warehouse or parking lot might eventually be built there. Such construction would eliminate their training space at the arena and could block access to a bridle path that runs along the western edge of the tract, leading to the San Gabriel Mountains.

Paramount officials said nothing would change for horse owners because of the annexation, but the wary residents asked Long Beach last month to challenge Paramount's plans. Community development officials from both cities met two weeks ago and reached an informal agreement, said Paramount Assistant City Manager Sanford Groves. It was formalized in a letter Dever received last week from Paramount City Manager Bill Holt, Harwood said.

Long Beach had argued that "this is part of our interest area and it should be left with the connected properties, which are also equestrian related," Harwood said. Paramount officials were told that Long Beach "would oppose the annexation unless they (Paramount) made the adjustment" and subtracted the arena land from the proposed annexation area, he said.

Annexation at Issue

"Given the residents' concern," dropping the horse arena from the annexation request was agreeable to Paramount, said Groves. Paramount "didn't have any particular designs on that area" but was "proposing to annex all the unincorporated area immediately adjacent to Paramount, and that was part of it," he said.

Groves said Paramount still must make formal changes to preliminary annexation documents filed with the Local Agency Formation Commission, a state agency that has the power of approval or disapproval over annexations.

Rather than leave the property as an unincorporated part of the county, Long Beach intends to annex the arena tract. "It should be made part of a city," Harwood said.

"What would have remained would have been so small that it would not have been an efficient area for the county to administer. This makes much more sense."

Long Beach Community Development Director David Lund said that city will proceed after Paramount has made the necessary changes to its annexation papers.

Horse Owners Relieved

The agreement has relieved many of the concerned horse owners near the arena. "We'll have a little more control now," said Pattie Kraus, 28, who keeps her Arabian, Fadan, on Atlantic Place. She said the Long Beach council is more likely to be responsive to the Long Beach residents than the Paramount council would be. And the nearby Long Beach residents want the property to remain as it is.

Without the arena and the trail, the residents said, there would be little reason to keep their horses in the nearby stables. Many said they would then have to give up their animals because rates at most other stables in the county are much higher than the $100-a-month fee that is common along Atlantic Place.

Now, "We're definitely happy," Kraus said.

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