Tustin Landscape and Lighting District (TLLD)
In the 1980's, when the area known as Tustin Ranch was being planned, a maintenance district was formed to ensure the continuous maintenance and improvement of street lighting and landscaping along City streets. Recently, a number of projects have been completed throughout the District to enhance the landscape and improve the lighting. Some of these projects are more obvious than others. For example, some of the improvements you may have noticed include replacement of the landscaping at major intersections and the conversion of the street light system to LED. Some of the less obvious improvements include irrigation replacements and the installation of groundcover that will eventually spread to control erosion and help reduce watering needs. Each project, large or small, is intended to enhance the character of the neighborhoods within the District.
On April 20, 2021, the City Council scheduled a Public Hearing for June 15, 2021 to consider forming Tustin Landscape & Lighting Reassessment District 2021 to replace the existing District. During the meeting, the City Council also approved what is known as an Engineer's Report for Reassessment District 2021. The report provides details of Reassessment District 2021 and recalculates the annual assessment levied on each parcel. The Agenda Report from this meeting, with the Engineer's Report provided as an attachment can be found here.
During the week of April 27, 2021, ballots were mailed to every property in the District. Property owners are being asked to vote on forming Tustin Landscape & Lighting Reassessment District 2021. Below are some FAQs to help property owners better understand why the vote is being held and how to participate.
Frequently asked question
What is the Tustin Landscape & Lighting District?
The Tustin Ranch area was designed to include enhanced landscaping and lighting. The Tustin Landscape & Lighting District was created in the 1980s as a funding mechanism to pay for the ongoing maintenance of the public landscape and lighting throughout Tustin Ranch. Assessments are collected by the Orange County Tax Collector as part of annual property tax payments and then transferred to the City. These funds are held in a special fund and can only be used for landscape and tree maintenance, street lighting, and utility expenses in Tustin Ranch. They are restricted funds, separate and apart from the City’s General Fund revenues and expenditures.
Forming a new District? What? Why?...What does that mean?
The physical boundary and characteristics of the District stay the same – exactly the same. It’s the nomenclature of the law that governs the use of certain terms, such as, “formation” when describing and establishing, or in this case, reassessing the District to ensure revenue matches expenditure for fiscal stability and quality of care. The "new" District also must have a different name. Because this process is being conducted to reassess the District in 2021, the name of the new District is the Tustin Landscape & Lighting Reassessment District 2021 (Reassessment District 2021).
Why did I receive a ballot in the mail asking that I vote my support or opposition to forming a new District?
As it exists today, the District does not generate enough revenue to cover maintenance and utility costs. The only way to increase revenue is to ask the property owner of every parcel in the District if they support an increase in the annual assessment on their property. If a majority of the ballots support forming Reassessment District 2021, the existing District will be dissolved and the new assessment will be levied for Fiscal Year 2021/22. If a majority of the ballots oppose the formation of Reassessment District 2021, the existing District will remain in effect.
Ok, but tell me why I am being asked to vote on this. I want specifics…
Assessments have not generated enough revenue to cover expenses since 2010. At that time, a new Reassessment District could have been formed to ensure enough revenue was generated each year, but staff identified a funding source that could be used to bridge the gap. The funding source was bond proceeds remaining from the original construction of public improvements (streets, sidewalks, landscaping, street lighting, etc) in Tustin Ranch. Surplus bond proceeds are required to be used for maintenance of the infrastructure they were acquired to pay for. The surplus bond proceeds will soon be exhausted and will not fully fund District expenses in Fiscal Year 2021/22. So, it is time to ask the voters how they feel about an increased annual assessment.
What does my assessment pay for?
Your annual assessment pays for the following:
- Contractual services for landscape and tree maintenance, and street light repair;
- Water and electricity.
Are you adding any additional services?
The increase to the assessment is needed to support the existing level of service. No new services or costs have been included.
Are public agencies exempt from paying the annual assessments?
There is no exemption for public agencies. The City of Tustin, the Tustin Unified School District, and the County of Orange all pay the annual assessments for properties in the District and would continue to do so under Reassessment District 2021.
How do I submit my ballot?
There are three ways to submit your ballot.
- By mail. Please ensure you have the correct postage affixed to the return envelope and place in the mail with sufficient time for the post office to deliver your ballot to Tustin City Hall by June 15, 2021.
- Drop off. The City Clerk has a secure drop box available at the main entrance to City Hall. Items are removed by staff daily. The last opportunity to submit your ballot using the secured box is 6 p.m. on June 15, 2021.
- At the Public Hearing. Even though the City Council is meeting virtually, staff will be in the foyer between the Tustin City Council Chamber and the Clifton C. Miller Community Center during the City Council meeting on June 15, 2021 to assist members of the public looking to submit a ballot in person.
How can I participate in the Public Hearing?
Due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, you can do so virtually. If you’d like to participate virtually, please spend some time familiarizing yourself with the log in process and be sure to log in a bit early to ensure you do not miss the Public Hearing. Please click here to be directed to instructions on participating in City Council meetings virtually.
If you are dropping off your ballot during the Public Hearing, you are welcome to view a live stream of the Public Hearing and/or the opening and counting of ballots. Please plan to bring a personal device if you are interested in providing public comment. Public comment is your opportunity to address the City Council. It is not the same as casting your ballot and does not count as a vote. If you plan to vote, please bring your ballot.
This has been helpful, but I have more questions. Who do I contact?
You can contact Stacey Cuevas in the Public Works Department at (714) 573-3037.