Friends of Redlands member Larry Leonard writes in the Redlands Community News:

This letter is number 5 in a series on the city’s plans by The Friends of Redlands. We have studied the General Plan 2035, Downtown Specific Plan and Transit Villages Specific Plan Draft (TVSP) with the objective of informing the residents of Redlands about the city council and city planning objectives for our city.

This letter will address the unknown costs to Redlands taxpayers of the development of the Transit Villages Area as described in the TVSP.

Throughout the 218 pages of the TVSP there is no mention of the cost to the taxpayer. We know that some of this cost will be born by the developer. However, before the developer can begin construction of apartments and commercial buildings, infrastructure like sewer piping and water mains, streets and sidewalks must be in place. In this case, it is the taxpayer who will pay the initial cost with the eventual reimbursement, hopefully, by the developer.

Along with the costs as mentioned above, the TVSP calls for taxpayer funded projects as follows:

– Parking garages

– Extending State Street and Fourth Street into the site of the mall property

– Converting State Street for two-way traffic

– Improvement and beautification of I-10 underpasses

– Do it yourself bicycle repair facilities

– Long term bicycle parking

– Landscaping down the center of Orange Street

– Converting Orange Street from two lanes in each direction to one in each direction

Then there is the cost of policing and fire. Nowhere can we find the cost to provide security for the three Arrow stations or for the additional 6000 or so people living in the Transit Villages corridor. Can our current fire department resources handle an additional 2400 dwelling units without adding fire stations and equipment? Also, consider that apartments require one and a quarter more costs for emergency services than single family homes.

Lastly there is the subject of property taxes. Apartments do not generate the same property tax revenue per dwelling unit as a single family home. This means that single family homeowners will subsidize the apartments for the costs of schools, emergency services, street maintenance and the like.

Friends of Redlands is concerned that the Transit Villages Specific Plan will be approved without a full accounting of the cost to the taxpayer. We urge the council and city planning conduct a study and inform Redlanders what the costs of the plan will be. This is only fair and responsible to the taxpayer.