RCSD to apply for expanded powers

The Rossmoor Community Services District Board wants the Orange County LAFCO to expand the district’s power to address animal control and public safety issues.

To that end, the board on Tuesday, Nov. 9, approved a resolution stating the district’s intention to apply for latent powers.

In related news, the board considered waiving a potential conflict of interest between LAFCO and the RCSD. Both agencies receive legal representation from the law firm BB&K.

The RCSD board voted to hire attorney Janet Morningstar to represent the district in LAFCO-related matters.

The “resolution of intention” authorized General Manager Henry Taboada to apply to LAFCO for “latent powers” to provide law enforcement, animal control and trash collection services.

The issue of animal control has become of particular interest to Rossmoor residents because of increased coyote activity in the Sun Region.

“Further research into this matter with LAFCO has determined that the formal application process requires a resolution which also requires information from the county and other sources [that] has yet to be developed,” said an unsigned Nov. 9 staff report to the board.

The report said the information that the county needs to provide includes the cost of the services that the RCSD board seeks authority to provide.

The resolution calls for Taboada to prepare a LAFCO Project Application Form and estimate the costs of various public services.

According to a press release, Rossmoor district staff will schedule two public workshops in December 2010 and January 2011 to discuss the issues of latent powers and the possibility of Rossmoor’s annexation by Los Alamitos. LAFCO has placed Rossmoor under Los Alamitos’ “Sphere of Influence.”

According to Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach, Los Alamitos has included Rossmoor in the city’s new General Plan.

Moorlach, who is also a member of the Orange County LAFCO, has said on more than one occasion that the communities of Rossmoor, Los Alamitos and Seal Beach should be merged into one “mega city.”

Moorlach did not participate in the Nov. 9 RCSD meeting.

Later that night, the board hired Morningstar’s legal corporation to help Rossmoor officials apply for more governmental powers.

“Normally, legal services would be provided by General Counsel Jeff Ferre,” said the staff report. “In this instance, both the district and LAFCO general counsel are part of the law firm BB&K. This presents a conflict of interest that has required outside counsel for previous legal dealings with LAFCO,” the report said.

Morningstar represented Rossmoor from 2006 to 2008 in the district’s efforts to take over police services from the county. According to Morningstar’s Oct. 26 letter to Taboada, this “led to a proposal to incorporate.” Voters ultimately rejected the proposal to make Rossmoor an incorporated city. Morningstar will charge Rossmoor $275 an hour for her services. According to a Rossmoor Community Service District staff report LAFCO had asked the board to waive the existing conflict of interest because of the increasing cost of hiring special counsel. “The district has expended $15,137.50 as of this date for the services of Janet Morningstar,” the RCSD report said. “Correspondingly, there has been a considerable offset for services not provided by BB&K for LAFCO matters.”

The board’s present general counsel recommended hiring Morningstar as a special counsel.

Finally, RCSD Director Joel Rattner ended his service on the board after 69 meetings.