NUTS AND BOLTS OF THE INITIATIVE AND WHY WE NEED TO GET IT ON THE BALLOT

Remember Measure G? It would have allowed unlimited building heights and density on 782 acres in the heart of downtown Redlands. Had Measure G passed, more than 6000 apartment dwellers would have been shoehorned into a relatively small area bounded by Alabama to Judson and north to Colton, and south to Citrus including the mall. The state of California defines this as a Transit Villages Area meaning the areas within a half-mile radius of a commuter rail station. There are five stations planned with three completed (Downtown, University of Redlands, and New York/ESRI) for the opening of the Arrow train (see attached diagrams). Voters defeated Measure G by 65% to 35% – or a 2 – 1 ratio!

However, the City of Redlands and the council have ignored the will of the voters and are essentially moving ahead with the provisions of Measure G as reflected in the 2035 General Plan and the Transit Villages Specific Plan Draft (TVSP) dated April 20, 2020.

History:

– Over the last 40 plus years voters in Redlands have passed growth management measures. The most influential was Measure U. It limited building heights in the city to 35’ and limited the number of housing units to 400 annually. Measure U also limited population density.

– The problem is Measure U does not apply to the Downtown Transit Villages Areas.

– The city has a 2035 General Plan and dovetailing with this is the Downtown Transit Villages Specific Plan (TSVP) which is in draft form. This TVSP would allow for 78’ tall buildings (for comparison the City Bank building is 85’ tall), 2400 dwelling units, with an estimated 6000 people living in the Transit Villages Area.

– The TVSP cannot be approved without an Environmental Impact Report. This report is in process and was scheduled to be done this December (most likely delayed due to Covid). Once complete, the General Plan and Transit Villages Specific Plan can be approved by the council. Once approved the plan would be difficult to change.

To preserve downtown Redlands the Friends of Redlands Committee has decided to put an initiative on a future ballot that would amend the 2035 General Plan that would cover the Downtown Transit Villages Area and override the city’s plans as outlined in the Transit Villages Specific Plan (TVSP).

The Initiative would:

– Limit building heights to 40’ in the Downtown Transit Village and the University of Redlands Transit Villages Areas. It would allow building heights of 52’ in the New York Street/ESRI Transit Villages Area.

– Prevent buildings taller than two stories next to single-family homes without the consent of the owner of the single-family home.

– Increase parking requirements over what is specified in the TVSP.

– Replace a 4/5 council vote enabling density exceptions with a 5/5 council vote (necessary so four city council members could not override the objections of a fifth council member opposing its location). This makes every voting ward equally powerful.

Typical questions about the initiative:

1. Where did the city get the authority to develop all these growth plans?

The state of California Transit Village Development Planning Act of 1994 (Government Code Section 65460-65460.11) allows for cities to prepare transit village plans for designated transit villages districts. Such districts would cover areas of up to a half-mile radius surrounding a given transit station.

2. Is the mall included in the Transit Villages Area?

The General Plan and the new Transit Villages Plan all include mall redevelopment. The mall is clearly under the influence of the Transit Villages Planning Area within a half-mile radius of Downtown Arrow Station. This is documented on maps and in text.

3. Why a 40’ building height and not a 35’ building height?

The downtown transit villages area and a good part of downtown are in a designated flood zone. Under current building codes, any structure built in this area must be raised above a possible flood. This dimension is generally a minimum of 3.5’. In addition, building codes for earthquake and fire safety along with wiring and plumbing standards generally call for 2’ between floors. With 10’ ceiling heights, the result is a building that is 39.5’.

4. Why allow a 52’ building height in the New York Transit Villages Area?

The state of California is becoming involved in local planning. If we do not allow 4 story building somewhere in the Transit villages Area the state will surely force the issue. Also, several of ESRI buildings are already approaching the 52’ or more. Basically, the ESRI campus is already non-compliant with the initiative. Lastly, the New York Transit Village Area is close to being built out. There is not much space for more development and most is commercial in nature.

There are two avenues to getting an initiative on a ballot for an election:

1. Gather 4272 valid signatures of registered Redlands voters on the initiative petition for a general election.

2. Gather 6840 valid signatures of registered Redlands voters on the initiative petition for a special election. This method is preferred as the city would be forced to pay for the election and would most likely accept the demands of the petition without an election.

Note: as is typical with this process some signatures will end up being not valid due to mistakes in signing. This means that extra signatures are needed to assure that we have enough valid signatures.

FOR is currently collecting signatures. We must obtain over 360 valid signatures per week to meet the deadline of February 4, 2021.  If you are interested in volunteering to help collect signatures, and we hope you are, please email us at [email protected].

Also, if you would like to make a contribution to fund our effort, please send a check made out to our PAC, Redlanders For Responsible Growth Management, and send it to 421 San Timoteo Road, Redlands, CA 92373.

Thank you for helping us to help save Redlands!