Dr. Jeff Barke gives “State of the District” in Rossmoor

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Rossmoor Community Services District

At this first meeting of the Rossmoor Community Services District in 2022, it is my pleasure to report on the State of the District for 2021.

I am very proud of our Board of Directors, staff, and community in displaying resiliency during this difficult time in our history as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. I acknowledge that this has been a stressful time and has challenged the District’s resources and operations. However, it has also provided the RCSD with an opportunity to evaluate how we can better serve the residents of this community. I am happy to report that I believe we have made significant progress in a number of areas.

First of all, the District’s financial outlook remains strong. Financial stability and transparency are a priority to the RCSD Board of Directors. We anticipate staying within the Fiscal Year 2021-2022 budget and adding approximately $100,000 to the District’s reserve account at the end of the fiscal year. The District received an unmodified audit report from our auditing firm Rogers, Anderson, Malody & Scott, with no management findings.

A major undertaking in 2021 was addressing the long-standing issue of the District’s street sweeping schedule. The RCSD Board and staff worked hard to secure community input about their complaints with the street sweeping schedule and parking restrictions that were negatively impacting many of them. As possible solutions were evaluated, the Board identified an odd/even street sweeping schedule that would alleviate the parking issues by offering alternative side of the street parking. This has not been an easy process and began with securing the support of outgoing Orange County Second District Supervisor Michelle Steel, as well as newly elected Second District Supervisor Katrina Foley. Supervisor Foley took us across the finish line to secure a resolution approved by the Orange County Board of Supervisors and Department of Public Works to change the street sweeping schedule to the first and third Mondays for odd addresses, and the first and third Tuesdays for even addresses. Funding was also provided to cover the additional cost of the new street sweeping schedule. I am proud to announce that at the December 2021 RCSD Board meeting, a contract services agreement was approved with Sunset Property Services to provide street sweeping services to Rossmoor beginning January 2022. While this is a major stride, staff continues to work with Orange County Sheriff’s, Public Works, and our vendor to focus on the day to day operations. We will make adjustments as needed. I encourage our residents to be patient and understand that there will be a learning curve with this significant change.

RCSD staff was successful in receiving a $180,000 per capita grant and has utilized portions of the grant allocation for the resurfacing of the Rush Park parking lot, upgrading the audio-visual equipment in the Rush Park Auditorium, and revitalizing the playgrounds at Rush and Rossmoor Parks, including repairs of the rubberized surfaces and play equipment. In addition, the flooring at Rossmoor Park and Montecito community centers were replaced with new luxury vinyl tile flooring. Other projects in progress include the addition of a picnic shelter at Rossmoor Park, HVAC replacement at the Rush Park administrative building, and upgrades to the Rossmoor Park ballfields. RCSD facilities and parks are heavily used by the Rossmoor community and we strive to keep them well-maintained and safe. Staff continues to work through the phases of the grant process to meet the appropriate deadlines for the funding.

Dr. Jeff Barke
Courtesy photo

State of California COVID relief funds were designated to provide assistance to counties and cities. Because RCSD is a special district, we were not part of the funds being allocated from the state. However, working with the California Special District Association, RCSD staff was part of a major lobbying program that successfully directed millions of dollars towards special districts across California. Rossmoor experienced revenue losses, staffing shortages, and increased maintenance costs associated with sanitizing facilities in compliance with COVID safety guidelines. I am pleased to report that the District will receive fiscal relief funding in the amount of $48,578 from the California Department of Finance to offset the impact to our budget. Additionally, a separate grant funding application has been submitted to FEMA requesting COVID relief funding.

A major concern last year was the legislative redistricting that was underway throughout the State following the 2020 census. The Independent California Citizens Redistricting Commission was formed to use the new census data to redraw the Congressional, State Senate, State Assembly, and State Board of Equalization district boundaries. The Orange County Board of Supervisors Districts were also re-formed. The RCSD Board learned that some of the draft maps being considered would place the District with the City of Long Beach, which would place us with Los Angeles County representation. Therefore, a Special RCSD Board meeting was held on October 19, 2021 where a resolution was adopted that was used to formally express the District’s desire to remain in Assembly, State Senate, and Congressional Districts that are not shared with the City of Long Beach and instead remain in Orange County based Districts. The resolution was submitted for consideration to the Redistricting Commission. After extensive lobbying by our Board and constituents, I am pleased to announce that it appears we were successful in staying within Orange County boundaries with agencies that are connected geographically and with similar interests and/or concerns to Rossmoor.

RCSD takes pride in its urban forest. The District continues to manage over 5,000 park and parkway trees, and planted approximately 208 new trees while overseeing the trimming of over 2,000 trees. The RCSD has earned the “Tree City USA” title for the eleventh consecutive year and will be planning an Arbor Day celebration in 2022.
As President, it has been my goal to listen to constituents and facilitate excellent service to our residents. The RCSD Board has joined me in this effort. As a result of a couple of issues, RCSD Board meetings became quite well attended, especially for the public comment portion of the meetings. Although highly spirited, the Board was able to absorb the comments made and listened to what was being shared. Specifically, the local control/latent powers topic was discussed at community forums and is now being worked on by a specially formed committee of two RCSD Board members, two RHA Board members, and our General Manager to secure community input and make recommendations on how to move forward. It became apparent that the goal for all of us is to determine how to obtain the best services for Rossmoor residents and that a methodical, careful approach was warranted.

The RCSD Board and staff also collaborated with Orange County Waste and Recycling and CR&R Incorporated to roll out the new three-bin waste and recycling collection program that requires all agencies in California to provide organic waste collection services. This is another major change for the residents of the District and we are moving through the process of changing out containers with new lids to identify the proper disposal bins for items. Again, please have patience – our District staff is available to assist you with questions you may have.

The first ever bulky item clean-up event was also coordinated with CR&R and OCWR to provide residents with an avenue to rid their properties of large items. The event was held at Rush Park and was a major success. Over 250 vehicles brought approximately 17 tons of white goods, e-waste, and bulky items for collection. We look forward to the next event in Spring 2022.

Because there were very limited special events due to the pandemic in 2020, it was important to the RCSD Board to provide safe programs for our residents in 2021 as restrictions relaxed. The goal was to offer events to encourage the community to enjoy their friends and neighbors in an outdoor setting. While RCSD budgeted for smaller events, with the assistance of our generous sponsors, we were able to provide these expanded programs to the community. I would like to take a moment to thank our sponsors for being so generous to the District by offsetting the costs for these events. Second District Supervisor Foley provided a $10,000 grant, and numerous other businesses and non-profits contributed to the festivals. We appreciate their generosity.

I commend the RCSD staff for creating and providing much-needed relief to families and residents through the five Family Foodie Festivals and the Winter Festival. The programs were very successful and highly attended with approximately 3,000-4,000 participants at each event. These events featured food trucks, entertainment, games, vendor booths, and a kids zone with slides, a rock wall, and moon bounces. Each event also featured a band and dancing.

In closing, it has been a privilege to serve the Rossmoor community as President of this Board. I appreciate my colleagues on the RCSD Board and their dedication. RCSD staff continues to consistently serve and care for our residents. Our fiscal position is strong, and our community’s low crime rate and friendly, caring, residents make Rossmoor one of the best places to live in Southern California.

Dr. Jeff Barke gives “State of the District” in Rossmoor