Opinion: Rossmoor residents better off as they are

Joel Rattner

In the May 12 issue of the Sun Newspaper, there was a letter from Cathie Salai about Los Alamitos city staff costs, an Opinion article about the “mega” city concept by Enea Ostrich, and an article about the Seal Beach pension costs by Robert Goldberg, which I thought were very descriptive of the issues that probably explain why a majority of Rossmoor residents do not want to be an independent city or to be annexed to Seal Beach or Los Alamitos.

It all boils down to whether Rossmoor, which is 90 percent single family property ownership, as compared to  Los Alamitos which is only 45 percent single family ownership and Seal Beach which is 75 percent single family ownership, wants to pay increased fees, like a utility user tax (which is 11 percent in Seal beach and 6 percent in Los Alamitos) in order to obtain improved or additional services.

Seventy-two percent of Rossmoor residents voted against the 7 percent and 9 percent utility user taxes in the incorporation election in 2008.

However, contrary to Ms. Ostrich’s article, a majority of Rossmoor residents voted in the mid-70s to increase their property taxes to remove the high school and two middle schools from Anaheim school district to form the Los Alamitos Unified School District (which Seal Beach joined about 10 years later), and they voted to tax themselves to purchase the Rossmoor Park site from the school district in the mid-70s, and they voted in 1992 to tax themselves to acquire the Rush Park site from the school district, and they voted to tax themselves in 2000 to rebuild the Rossmoor Wall to repair earthquake damage and make the wall stronger.

Los Alamitos spends about half of their annual budget on police services, which results in a cost of about $400 per person.

Seal Beach spends about a quarter of their budget for police services, which results in a cost of about $200 per person.

Rossmoor receives police services from Orange County, which costs about $1 million per year for a cost of about $100 per person and traffic services from the CHP at an unknown cost in return for the property taxes paid by each property owner.

By the way, Rossmoor is one of 38 unincorporated islands in Orange County and is exceeded in population and acreage by North Tustin, another island.

Some of these islands have mini-mansions, as does Sunset Beach, Southwest Anaheim, etc. and could well afford to be in a city if they desired to do so. Sunset Beach has been tentatively annexed (without a vote) by Huntington Beach (because Seal Beach declined to annex Sunset Beach) but the residents of Sunset Beach are now pursuing legal action to defeat the annexation because they would be forced to pay a utility user tax without a vote.  Pension costs have become a major issue in the county as well as most cities, like Seal Beach who is expected to allocate 13 percent of their budget to pensions.

The residents of Seal Beach, Los Alamitos and Rossmoor have the freedom to decide where they want to live.   If people want more police services, or more lifeguard services, etc., they will vote or their respective city council will decide whether to increase their fees/taxes.

Rossmoor residents cannot be forced to be annexed without a vote to approve the idea and to pay any applicable utility user tax.  Generally, Rossmoor residents, like the residents of the 38 unincorporated islands, appreciate the services from the O.C. Sheriff and Public Works departments and do not want to pay for expensive city governments and their pensions.

Joel Rattner is a resident of Rossmoor.