Rossmoor agency ponders future government

The Rossmoor Community Services District board formed a two-member committee to look at the possible annexation of the unincorporated community’s commercial district by the neighboring city of Los Alamitos on Tuesday, July 12.

That night, the RCSD Board of Directors received a report from General Manager Henry Taboada concerning the future government of Rossmoor. The report discussed the unincorporated community’s future since the board decided on June 14 to request additional powers from the Orange County Local Agency Formation Commission.

LAFCO, as the commission is known, has place Rossmoor under the “sphere of influence” of Los Alamitos. Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach, who chairs LAFCO, has said in his e-mailed “Updates” to his constituents that Rossmoor has three choices: become an independent city, merge with Los Alamitos and Seal Beach into a “mega city” or be annexed by Los Alamitos.

A recent poll paid for by the Rossmoor board and the union representing Orange County Sheriff’s Department deputies indicated most Rossmoor residents would prefer for things to remain as they are, with Rossmoor remaining an unincorporated community. The Sheriff’s Department provides law enforcement services to unincorporated communities such as Rossmoor.

According to the July 12 Taboada report, the city of Los Alamitos recently formed an ad hoc committee to look at annexing Rossmoor Shopping Village. The shopping center is the only commercial area in the unincorporated community of Rossmoor.

“The implications of such an annexation are that the county would receive less revenue, estimated in the range of $300,000 to $450,000, which currently helps pay for Rossmoor services,” Taboada wrote. “It would also leave the remainder of Rossmoor as an isolated bedroom community with no governance options other than a future annexation.”

The Taboada report also said Los Alamitos has approved plans to hire a consultant to assist with the amendment of the city’s General Plan. “A revised General Plan which includes Rossmoor as being in the Los Alamitos sphere of influence is a preliminary step when and if the annexation of Rossmoor is formally proposed,” Taboada wrote.

However, critics of the Rossmoor board, including Sun columnist Joyce Bloom, have accused the Rossmoor Community Services District of using annexation to frighten the public into supporting increased governmental powers for the agency.

The board has decided to ask LAFCO for authority to hire law enforcement, animal control and trash collection services. At this time, the board has no such legal authority.

“Supervisor Moorlach has vocally suggested that if Rossmoor wants to take on additional latent powers, that the community should impose an 11 percent utility tax on itself in order to pay for those services,” Taboada wrote. “This is viewed as double taxation since Rossmoor already pays taxes to the county to provide those services.”

The Taboada report said an alternative to annexation would be to have the county hire neighboring cities to provide services to unincorporated areas that are currently served by the county. LAFCO has formed an Island Task Force to study having the county contract out services to cities. “The study was conceived as an alternative to annexation on county islands (unincorporated areas) where these islands were unattractive candidates for annexation for neighboring cities,” Taboada wrote.

If Los Alamitos annexed Rossmoor, the population of the expanded city would nearly double.

“What is particularly troubling about this process is that only county, LAFCO and city representatives were invited to participate,” Taboada wrote.