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ROSSMOOR : Voters to Decide Perimeter Wall Issue

Voters here will decide in November whether to tax themselves to pay for the repair and maintenance of the Rossmoor perimeter wall.

Directors of the Rossmoor Community Services District voted 4 to 1 last week to place a proposal on the Nov. 8 ballot to impose a special tax of $15 a year for the next 16 years. It would be assessed on local homeowners for the repair and upkeep of the wall, which was damaged during an earthquake two years ago.

Many residents consider the 1 1/2-mile red brick wall, which was built in 1957, a community asset that must be preserved.

Director Joyce Bloom dissented, saying that she believes the district has no legal right to take over the wall and that it would be costly to local taxpayers.

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If approved, the special tax would generate about $53,000 a year and help build a reserve of about $760,000 after 16 years, which would be enough to maintain the wall for a long time, officials said.

“It’s the logical thing to do,” said Milt Petersen, a director of the Rossmoor Homeowners Assn., which has been behind the two-year effort to save the wall. “Let the people decide if they want to acquire and protect the wall.”

Voters also will be asked if the district should add the repair and maintenance of the wall to its current duties. The district is responsible for sweeping and trash collection, street lighting and landscaping.

General manager Bill Sheldon said that both measures must pass because one will not be valid without the other. A two-thirds vote will be necessary to pass the special-tax measure, but the maintenance issue will require only a majority vote, Sheldon said. There are more than 7,000 registered voters in the community, he said.

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A 100-foot section of the wall, which collapsed during an earthquake in 1992, has not been repaired because public agencies have refused to cover the cost. Other sections have been weakened and are in danger of toppling, according to Petersen, an engineer, who conducted some studies of the problem.

Part of the difficulty is a multi-jurisdicational one, Petersen said, because sections of the wall are within Seal Beach, Los Alamitos and in the county flood control channel. Some narrow strips may be located on private property, he said.

Because other public agencies do not want to pay for the repairs, Petersen said, the district is the most logical agency to take over the wall.

“But it must be very clear to taxpayers that there will be some cost,” he said.

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According to Sheldon, it will cost about $75,000 to repair the damaged section south of St. Cloud Drive in Seal Beach. If the remaining sections of the wall are replaced, the cost would be about $360,000 he said.

The ballot will contain arguments supporting and opposing the measure. The board of directors decided last week to stay neutral on the issue. Residents will write the arguments.

“Our purpose is to let the people make the decision,” said John Hunt, president of the five-member board that runs the unincorporated community. “We have responded to the need of the community. Now it’s up to the voters.”


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