Rossmoor looks at future relationship with Los Alamitos

Marilynn Poe

A member of the Los Alamitos City Council said the city is not actively pursing the annexation of Rossmoor during a Tuesday, Jan. 11 workshop on Rossmoor’s future relationship with the city.

However, a member of the Rossmoor Community Services District accused Los Alamitos officials of having ulterior motives.

A large crowd of Rossmoor residents heard how the Los Alamitos General Plan update will affect them during a workshop at Rush Park Auditorium.

The workshop was part of the monthly RCSD meeting.

Rossmoor, an unincorporated area, was placed in Los Alamitos’ “Sphere of Influence” by the Local Agency Formation Commission, or LAFCO, a couple of years ago.

Los Alamitos decided to update its General Plan last January after last updating it in the early 1990s. Wanting to incorporate projects like the Los Alamitos Medical Center Site Plan and Downtown Revitalization Project into the General Plan are some of the reasons behind the update.

The Los Alamitos City Council and Rossmoor Community Services District put together an ad hoc committee of members to discuss how Rossmoor fit into the General Plan Update.

The council came up with a list of 10 General Plan proposals. One of those included the Sphere of Influence.

Los Alamitos Mayor Pro Tem Troy Edgar said adding the current Rossmoor Land Use Designation in the General Plan would be about the only effect it would have.

Edgar said in the future Los Alamitos would like to offer Rossmoor planning and building services in the short term and possibly police and animal control services in the long term.

“It would be easier to come to our City Hall for planning and building services instead of going to Santa Ana and it’s more cost effective,” Edgar said. “Our police department (building) is actually closer to Rossmoor than it is to many of the residents in Los Alamitos.”

Edgar said many Rossmoor residents already use services provided by the city, including Recreation and Community Services. Nearly 40 percent of those who take part in city recreation programs are from Rossmoor, according to a Power Point presentation.

RCSD First Vice President Shannon Hough said Rossmoor is happy with the services it is provided now, saying the Orange County Sheriff’s Department provides very good law enforcement and if the RCSD wanted to contract for animal services with the city of Long Beach, like Los Alamitos does, it could do so itself.

Hough was elected first vice president following her delivery of the State of the District address.

“Why should we go through you?” Hough said. “This is not just about land use designation.”

Edgar said LAFCO asked Los Alamitos to be a potential vendor for services and the city is interested in providing them in the future.

The county has been trying to withdraw services to unincorporated areas.

RCSD Director Alfred Coletta asked how could dealing with Los Alamitos be cheaper than working with the county. Los Alamitos City Manager Jeff Stewart said the city offers immediate response to Rossmoor.

If a contract for services is ever worked out, Stewart said the city could “ramp up” its ability to service the increased number of people.

“We are just looking into this,” Stewart said. “We would need to look as to what the county sees fit about service levels and officers. We can ramp up or down depending on the number of people.”

Hough eluded to recent comments made by County Supervisor John Moorlach that Los Alamitos should disband its police department and contract with the county as well.

Edgar said the police department is held dear by its residents and won’t be going away anytime soon. “We think so much of our police we spend 54 percent of our (city) budget on them,” Edgar said.

RCSD Director Bill Kahlert said what Los Alamitos is doing is not LAFCO driven and accused the city of having ulterior motives, most notably about wanting to annex the southwest corner of Los Alamitos Boulevard and Katella Avenue.

Los Alamitos Councilmember Marilynn Poe said that has been talked about since the mid 1990s, but there are as many people against it in Los Alamitos as there are in Rossmoor.

“We’re not aggressively pursuing it, just like anything else we’ve discussed,” Poe said.

“We’re trying to be stewards of the community, but I do believe it would be better for the citizens of Rossmoor and Los Alamitos to all be part of one community,” Poe said.

She said before any decision is made on the subject it would be important to look at the process together with cool heads and cool minds.

“People think Los Alamitos is pushing (for annexing Rossmoor) forward and that’s simply not true,” Poe said.

Edgar said he thinks combining small cities is a great idea and makes good business sense.

“I’m a supporter of cost effective government,” Edgar said.

Former Los Alamitos Mayor Catherine Driscoll said any decision must be made by residents of both communities. She urged everyone to look at the issues and numbers before making any decision.

Los Alamitos Councilmember Gerri Graham-Mejia said she was concerned the county was trying to force Rossmoor into doing something they didn’t want to do.

She urged RCSD officials to make sure the county gave them latent power and that they were being forthcoming about everything being done.

Seal Beach officials have said on more than one occasion they do not want to annex Rossmoor into their community.