Rossmoor disappointed in waste hauler contract, services

Rossmoor Community expresses disappointment in CR&R repeated delays. Courtesy photo

Despite getting a 17-year contract and higher rates, Rossmoor officials have expressed extreme frustration and disappointment with waste hauler CR&R, saying the service is now even worse than before and they have little or no control.

“We are being treated like a stepchild,” General Manager Joe Mendoza told the Rossmoor Community Services District at the August meeting.

Mendoza said some Rossmoor residents have expressed concern over missing regular trash pickup in periods of weeks, yet Rossmoor has no power to enforce performance under the contract.

That’s because Rossmoor is not an incorporated municipality, so the Special District that includes Rossmoor is literally forced to accept whatever waste provider selected for them by the Orange County Waste and Recycling Agency (OCWR).

Further, the OCWR collects the significant franchise fee paid by CR&R as stated in the new agreement.

“This is unacceptable,” said Director Mark Nitikman.

Mendoza told the board that in Cypress, where he lives, the city’s waste hauler, Valley Vista, has not missed a day since he’s moved in.

“This is a prime example of why we need more local control,” said Director Tony DeMarco. “They (OCWR) are getting the franchise fee and we are not the entity managing the contract,” he said.

As a result, much of Mendoza’s time is absorbed by managing complaints by residents directed at CR&R, yet the actual responsibility for service under the agreement belongs to Orange County Waste, the entity that receives the franchise fee in return for managing the CR&R contract.

Some Rossmoor residents also expressed concern that CR&R have separated pickup items into a process that will involve three series of trucks each cycle, meaning more wear and tear on the Rossmoor Street system.

The RCSD is also disappointed with the company providing street sweeping, mainly because they find it very difficult to coordinate schedules, given they have little or no control.

The Board has directed Mendoza to put together a series of meetings that will inform them and the residents about achieving more local control. Residents have repeatedly expressed no desire for becoming a municipality or being annexed into either Seal Beach or Los Alamitos, yet Special District’s have little political control over external affairs.

Nevertheless, some California Special Districts have found ways to increase their local control through legislation and other means, and Mendoza told the board he has invited officials who have successfully achieved more control to participate in hearings this fall.

In addition, the board has directed to Mendoza to include the Rossmoor Homeowners Association in the meetings, which he said has been done.

Mendoza gave the board some prospective dates for meetings this fall along with some key potential participants for a working committee to carve out a strategy.

Directors told Mendoza they want the opportunity to be hands on during the entire process.

Therefore, Board President Dr. Jeffrey Barke recommended the board not schedule any meetings until each of the directors send their “availability” to Mendoza, after which a schedule can be approved for the working committee meetings.

Mendoza told Directors that the goal of first meeting of the local control process is to develop a resident survey. From there, If the community is able to reach a consensus sometime in 2021, directors hope that legislative efforts can commence in time for the next session of the state Assembly.

In other action, the board agreed to adopt the proposed rate changes for RCSD facilities, even discussing at one point raising rates higher for nonprofits and non-residents, but eventually agreed to adopt the changes as proposed until they look further into higher rates.

Director Jeffrey Rips, a nonprofit executive, said many of the nonprofits that utilize Rossmoor facilities, often provide programs and athletic opportunities for people and youth within Rossmoor, thus deserve special consideration.

Director Nathan Searles agreed, saying no additional rate increases were advertised on the agenda, so at the very least, the board should at least wait until any additional increases are advertised and discussed.

In other action at their August meeting, the board;

  • Officially adopted their proposed $1.8 million 2021-22 fiscal year budget after learning $30,000 had been cut from the budget, $15k each from proposed legal expenses and professional service agreements.
  • Learned from CHP Officer Matt Musselman that traffic citations within Rossmoor were down significantly because of COVID-19. For instance, Musselman said because so many officers were out because of COVID, he has been working freeway duty, reducing his time in Rossmoor. Also, he said the district saw eight minor traffic collisions since his last report.
  • Heard a progress report from Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley (see related story).
  • Heard residents during oral communications debate the impact Barke is having on the District (see related story).

Correction: This article has been updated to reflect the agency involved is the Orange County Waste and Recycling Agency not the Orange County Sanitation District, which has a different mission. The ENE regrets the error.

Rossmoor disappointed in waste hauler contract, services