Transit Village Plan Would Reduce Desperately Needed Parking In Redlands

Redlands downtown was developed and built before the dawn of the automobile. To accommodate traffic Orange Street was widened between Redlands Boulevard and the Umbrella Alley by 19 feet. Structures on the east side of the street had their exterior front wall lopped off to complete the widening.

In the 1920s, Redlands Boulevard became the Ocean to Ocean Highway, and the street was widened on each side.  One woman owning the building on the southeast corner fought eminent domain and was able to save 1/6 of her two-story building. The remnant became a battery building and then a shoe-shine shop. To accentuate the asthetic of the new highway the Contemporary Club insisted on a highway divider planted with shrubs and flowers. Redlands bowed to the use of automobiles.

Today, planners envision a Transit Village Specific Plan that is definitely in favor of pedestrian foot traffic and bicycles. The plan envisions 2,400 dwelling units, 265,000 square feet of retail/commercial and 238,000 square feet of office use. The planning consultant for the city realizes technical studies are required to complete the plan.

The Transit Village Specific Plan suggests the reconfiguration of Orange Street. The consultant wants bike lanes on each side with only one lane for traffic each direction.   A center median with plantings down the center of the street is planned to calm traffic. Orange Street will have 25 round trips on the Arrow Route each day.  Imagine how far traffic will back up each direction on Orange Street while the train crosses Orange Street.

State Street will return to two-way traffic again with a new configuration.   The traffic signal on Orange and State will be modified for the two-way traffic.

A goal of the downtown specific plan is said, “area should avoid becoming freeway-oriented and instead act as a cohesive town center with viable amenities and pedestrian-oriented streets.”

 This goal realizes “parking is costly and parking consumes significant amounts of physical space. The supply of parking should therefore be carefully balanced with the actual operational need for it. An oversupply of parking takes up valuable land that could be used for better purposes and encourages additional auto use.”

“The Specific Plan takes a holistic approach to parking by recommending increased management of the parking supply.”

Just how that approach is accomplished is a matter of mostly holistic conjecture. No one knows what that means. Redlands has always suffered from lack of parking space.

Right now my wife and I enjoy eating at the Italian restaurant above Romano’s. Most of the time, we must park in the Centennial Plaza to find a parking space.

Parking now is a problem all along Orange Street. Add 2,400 units and perhaps 3,000 additional cars and the problem is squeezed on streets modified for bikes.  The SANBAG study called for 260 to 300 parking spaces for rail passengers.

The parking structure on Stuart Avenue plans only 200 spaces for the rail station.

Density is seen as a positive in the Transit Village Specific Plan. Measure G that was defeated by a two-thirds margin strongly disagreed with that thought.  Despite the fact Measure G was soundly defeated, the City Council following the Transit Village Specific Plan seems hell-bent on proceeding with a downtown street grid that promises gridlock.

The Friends of Redlands initiative proposed by Bill Cunningham places a check and balance on the City Council, Planning Commission and the city General Plan.

The crystal ball used by the planning consultant has a crack consisting of traffic and parking. Mitigation for 4,000 to 6,000 new residents with 3,000 automobiles living in high-rise apartments cannot be justified or mitigated.

The number of historic structures considered as worthy of protection needs further review. The transit plan would replace any building with a 15-foot sidewalk for pedestrian use.

Tom Atchley, a historian and former newspaper adviser at Redlands High School, was one of five people who signed the rebuttal to the argument in favor of Measure T.

In a city where it is estimated that 15% of its residents are senior citizens, the current lack of adequate parking downtown already keeps a lot of our aging population from shopping or dining with ease.  This voting bloc has significant discretionary money to spend downtown, and yet even now,  you can talk to any number of senior citizens and they will tell you that because of the limited parking downtown they prefer to go where the parking is plentiful and convenient.  The Transit Village plan as described above, will impact elderly residents further.  Not only will these members of our community be even more unwilling to attempt the challenge of finding available parking downtown to shop or dine, our local businesses will  suffer as a result.  Shouldn’t it be the specific business of the City of Redlands to make sure downtown and the Transit Village areas are fully accessible with adequate parking for all members of our community?