On Monday this week, the community of Rossmoor began a massive change in street sweeping that they have been trying to achieve for years, but that comes at a cost of potential chaos and confusion at the street level as implementation begins on a vastly improved schedule.
The RCSD Board in December addressed concerns over the transition and began making policy changes that will legally allow the new street sweeping schedule.
RCSD General Manager Joe Mendoza recounted the process that led to the massive change, noting that the district received three bids on the project, the lowest of which was from its current waste provider CR&R. However, he told the board in December that CR&R quickly determined that they did not have sufficient equipment to begin as rapidly as required by RCSD.
Mendoza said discussions then began with Sunset Property Services (SPS), an Irvine-based company that has provided street sweeping services for a number of other Orange County cities for more than 35 years.
“We are an environmentally conscious company,” said Howhannesian, providing technology “long before any state or federal mandates” required them to do so.
Andrea Howhannesian, who runs the day-to-day operations of SPS, appeared at the December meeting to work out final details. She said SPS is, in essence, a local company that was acquired by Sweeping Corporation of America in 2021.
Howhannesian noted that her entire office has been working with Mendoza to develop the new, color-coded route maps that the RCSD general manager said has been posted in advertisements and on their websites trying to make the transition as smooth as possible.
Even then, all sides expected a rough couple of weeks of the new street sweeping schedule.
Not only for convenience, Howhannesian said that for every car left in the street obstructing the cleaning, about 30-40 feet of street will not be cleaned as the sweepers roll through.
“Accumulation can cause stagnant water, which can help attract mosquitos,” she said.
Regarding citations, Board President Jeff Barke asked her if her company has worked with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office regarding citation issuance. Howhannesian said that, yes, in other unincorporated areas of Orange County, they do coordinate with OCSD.
Barke also asked her if her company has handled large scheduling transition before. “We have not had to transition quite as robust as this is asking where we’re doing alternate sides for the entire community,” she said.
Rossmoor authorities acknowledged that because of the potential chaos and deep learning curve that no citations will be issued for at least 30 days for street sweeping violations.
Under the direction of the RCSD Board of Directors, Mendoza worked with Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley and other OC officials to develop a new street sweeping plan for the Rossmoor Community. In addition, Foley assisted the community by providing the additional funding required to switch over to the new plan.
In fact, the Sunset bid of nearly $78,000 annually required additional funding by Orange County, which has also been approved.
Director Tony DeMarco wanted to know about cameras on the sweepers, to which Howhannesian said they currently have some with cameras and are considering additional rear cameras for safety, but noted cameras are not used in the process of issuing citations.
Director Nathan Searles asked Howhannesian about community services, wanting to know if residents will have access to online portals or other such mechanisms to communicate with the company. She said they have a very aggressive response team, including herself, with an email account and other ways to communicate.
After answering various questions, the board voted unanimously on a motion by Barke to approve the contract and move forward as the board went into a rather lengthy policy and legal discussion to allow for a change in policy, then law, that will allow them to facilitate the street sweeping change.
RCSD attorney Tarquin Preziosi guided the board and answered pointed questions from Searles and Director Jeffrey Rips about policy changes and legal changes.
Preziosi acknowledged the legality of approving a first reading of a document in December and then starting the new street sweeping policy in January. Even though the board will not be able to finalize all of the legal documents until later this month, Preziosi said the board had every legal right to do so.
Most concerns remain for the implementation of the schedule, which began earlier this week on Jan. 3.
Mendoza and Foley last month celebrated the achievement by posing in front of one of the company’s sweepers that was literally parked relatively close to the community’s Christmas tree for Winterfest.
“It’s not going to be easy to facilitate,” said Mendoza, “but this community’s been attempting to do this for decades.” He and Foley, along with the entire RCSD Board, take pride in this accomplishment.
Though perhaps not wrapped with a bow, the new street sweeping plan was indeed a gift many in Rossmoor have awaited for many Christmases past.