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GRF Board approves raising Membership Transfer Fee

By Sam Richards

Staff writer


(Wednesday, May 4) Saying the GRF Board needs a more robust and more predictable source of funding to complete a decade’s worth of proposed major infrastructure projects, Board members last Thursday – at the Board’s first live, in-person meeting in 10 months – unanimously approved raising the Membership Transfer Fee from $10,000 to $12,000 this year and a minimum of $500 annually starting in 2023.

The MTF is paid by people buying a residence in Rossmoor and is the prime money source for replenishing the Trust Estate Fund, from which major capital projects in Rossmoor are paid.

The $12,000 figure had been recommended by the GRF Finance Committee as a baseline amount needed to pay for projects on GRF’s ambitious 10-year Facilities Master Plan list, including a new MOD office building project, fa water reclamation plant, a shade structure over Peacock Plaza and Dollar Clubhouse renovations.

The Finance Committee had given the Board nine options for an MTF increase, and the Board ultimately adopted one of them with the added caveat that the annual increase could be higher than $500 some years. One called for a MTF jump to $13,000 immediately, but that was deemed too large an increase at one time.

“The ‘New Rossmoor’ will eventually be completely rebuilt,” said Board member Ted Bentley, noting property values and building and material costs will go nowhere but up. “We’ve got to plan far out.”

The higher fee will go into effect on Sept. 1.

Board President Dwight Walker said an MTF increase is needed for GRF to pay for at least most of its FMP goals, and Board member Leanne Hamaji said an annual $500 increase outlined now shows Realtors, home buyers and Rossmoor residents they need to be prepared for planned future home sales.

And the more money raised by the MTF, Board members said, the less money GRF will have to borrow to complete priority projects.

The FMP process has been underway for more than a year, with two public workshops, focus groups, a survey and other outreach efforts designed to help determine what major projects Rossmoor residents most want to see completed in the next 10 years. The projects, decided preliminarily following a public participation process but far from finalized, are being grouped into three categories according to how soon they should be done – immediately (within the next two years), near-term (3 to 6 years) and long-term (7 to 10 years).

Family Swim

It was announced at Thursday’s GRF Board meeting that its Aquatics Committee had voted 5-0 (with one abstention) on April 14 to leave the popular Family Swim under the same operating rules as in 2021. That means it will continue at Hillside weekdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and on weekend days 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. All lap swim lane lines will be removed from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

Family Swim allows nonresident swimmers to spend pool time with resident friends and relatives. Slightly more than half of the 847 respondents to a March survey question said they would like Family Swim to take place at both Hillside and the Dollar pool, or exclusively at Dollar, but the committee stuck with Hillside.

Independent audit

The GRF Board also voted to spend up to $110,000 to commission an independent audit of GRF’s internal financial procedures in 2023, in hopes of having fresh eyes that can identify practices to modernize, change or discard to make GRF’s financial operations more efficient and secure.


Merek Lipson, chairman of the GRF Audit Committee, told the Board Thursday that such an audit would be a “best practice,” and should be welcomed and not elicit fear, as the word “audit” often does. GRF would likely benefit from an audit by outside “fresh eyes” – a mid-size financial firm would probably be the best choice, Lipson said. It’s possible GRF has never had such an independent audit done of its own financial operations, he added.

Making an intersection safer

The Board voted to pay $35,000 for pedestrian safety improvements at the intersection of Golden Rain Road and Oakmont Way, including two new solar-powered, push-button, illuminated crosswalk signs with rapid flash beacons, beefed-up area lighting, two “Pedestrian Crossing Ahead” static signs and a “radar reader” device to measure the speeds of vehicles in the northbound lanes of Golden Rain.

Rossmoor Public Safety Manager Tom Cashion said the safety upgrades are in response to residents’ complaints centered on poor lighting at night there, limited sight distance of northbound traffic on Golden Rain and safety concerns about residents crossing the four-lane roadway.

ADA-compliant website

With the goal of making the website easier to use for Rossmoor residents, making it completely compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act and fending off prospective lawsuits for not fully keeping with ADA dictates, the GRF Board voted unanimously Thursday to spend $10,500 to thoroughly examine that website for ADA compliance.

Rossmoor Director of Communications Ann Peterson told the Board said some ADA standards have changed in the past four years, and that attorneys are out there specifically searching for ADA violations, major or minor, that could spur lawsuits.

Walker said a group he is affiliated with recently had to pay out a $4,000 ADA-related settlement over a minor website deficiency, and that the threat of such lawsuits is real.

Gas cards for employees

As a token of appreciation to GRF employees who’ve had to pay sky-high gasoline prices for commutes that are sometimes quite long, the GRF Board voted Thursday to approve giving employees cards for free gas.

Board Member Kathleen Stumpfel, a member of GRF’s Compensation Committee, said full-time GRF employees will soon get gas cards for $100, part-time employees will get $50 gas cards and part-time on-call employees will get cards for $25.

Human Resources Director Eric Wong said these cards likely won’t make a big dent in most employees’ fuel spending, but that they are “a gesture, at least” in appreciation for what employees do in Rossmoor, especially in light of record-high prices at the pump.

Civility, and non-civility

Hamaji asked her Board colleagues to consider over the coming months possible ways to increase civil discourse in Rossmoor following a long period of increasing stress over COVID and other factors that have resulted in an increasing number of GRF employees enduring harassment from residents.

Hamaji said she wants the Board, at its May meeting, to further discuss ways these interactions can take place with more kindness and less anger, and how to make them happen.

She said she and others have noticed a “decline of civility in Rossmoor of late,” and a similar decline in general society, as well. She said she urges Rossmoorians to envision the Golden Rule when interacting with others, especially if there’s a grievance or complaint involved.

Hamaji herself was the target of public criticism during Thursday’s meeting, when a Zoom caller – former GRF Board member Ken Anderson – during the Residents’ Forum portion of the meeting accused Hamaji of working to add pickleball courts in Rossmoor at the expense of tennis courts, and tennis players. Invoking Hamaji’s name several times, Anderson called it “a huge conflict of interest” for Hamaji to be voting on anything related to pickleball.

Hamaji did not respond, and Board members typically don’t respond to questions or statements offered during Residents’ Forum. But Walker made an exception, telling Anderson his allegation was “insulting and offensive” to the Board, and “unfounded and ridiculous” in any event.