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Rossmoor is a gated community in Walnut Creek, California, with a population of about 9200. It was one of the first "active adult" communities for residents 55 years or older in the San Francisco Bay Area.




In the 1930s shipping tycoon Stanley Dollar constructed an estate in Tice Creek Valley near Walnut Creek in Contra Costa County. The Dollars bred purebred Herefords and raised show horses. Over the years they expanded the estate of 1,436 acres (5.8 km²) to 2,200 (8.9 km²).

In 1960, R. Stanley Dollar Jr (son of the shipping magnate) sold the family estate to Ross W. Cortese. Cortese owned a development company called Rossmoor Corporation. Cortese had been active in Orange County and the unincorporated community there named Rossmoor was one of his projects. After finishing Rossmoor he started on a new idea of private gated retirement communities for active seniors called Leisure World, starting with the Leisure World in Seal Beach in 1960.[1]

Leisure World gave promise of low-cost housing, coupled with services appropriate to Cortese's view of retirement—golf courses, swimming pools, clubhouses, riding stables, transportation, medical services, and a host of administrative employees to see that the residents did not have to bother themselves with house and yard maintenance, and even little things like waste collection, cable television service, and watering the lawn.

Cortese's plans were a bit too ambitious and he lost control of Rossmoor in Walnut Creek almost immediately after ground was first broken. The name Leisure World is still used as a trademark by Cortese's family, but it has not applied to Rossmoor in Walnut Creek for many years. Cortese's idea was popular though and others carried out his scheme.

Community description

There are now 9,200 residents in the gated community, with business and public services (such as the supermarket and post office) just outside the main gate. Rossmoor itself is within the city limits of Walnut Creek and it is usually considered part of that community. Each home must have one resident aged 55 or older.

Rossmoor is governed by the board of directors of the Golden Rain Foundation, a non-profit corporation that manages the common areas of the community. The board members are elected from nine districts made up of the Mutual Corporations, or homeowners' associations.[2]

Although many of the homes are low-cost for the area, especially the cooperative apartments, the difficulty in financing purchase of such units, the monthly homeowners' association fees, and the income requirements set by the community make living in Rossmoor difficult for seniors living mostly on Social Security.[3]

Demographic and political changes

As baby boomers began to reach retirement age and look at or move into Rossmoor, the nature of the community began to change. Fraternal organizations that had been very important in Rossmoor activities and charitable activities faded, as older members died or moved on and newer residents pursued different activities. A number of newer residents complained of the way the community was managed, including rapidly increasing monthly fees, lack of programs of interest to new residents, and lack of open governance. [1]


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