From the Redlands Community News:

Redlanders for Responsible Growth Management, which is leading an initiative to prevent hi-rise buildings in the city, received a 120-day extension to collect the valid signatures needed for its petition.

Redlands City Clerk Jeanne Donaldson said to her knowledge, proponents of a local initiative in California have not previously been granted an extension. The deadline was extended from Feb. 8 to June 8.

Larry Leonard, a leader of Redlanders for Responsible Growth Management, said the extension argument was based on the effort to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom, which was granted a 120-day extension because of COVID-19 in November.

Former Redlands Mayor Bill Cunningham developed the growth management initiative in September, working with No on Measure G campaign leaders.

The initiative ordinance amends sections of the Redlands General Plan that deals with managed development.

Points that summarize the proposed changes to the general plan include:

● The Redlands General Plan prohibits the establishment of new residential land use classifications by the City Council. This initiative ordinance exempts the Transit Village Overlay Zone from the prohibition.

● The Redlands General Plan provides that no undeveloped land that as of March 1, 1997, which is designated within the Redlands General Plan as “Urban Reserve” or “Urban Reserve (Agriculture)” as of June 1, 1987, and/or any land that was in active agricultural production on Nov. 3, 1986, regardless of zoning designation, shall be re-designated or rezoned to permit a residential density greater than that permitted in the Estate Residential (R-E) classification on June 1, 1987, unless certain findings are made by a 4/5ths vote of the City Council.

This initiative ordinance changes the vote requirement to 5/5ths of the City Council. Provisions would be added to the Redlands General Plan to limit building height within the Downtown Transit Village and the University of Redlands Transit Village to three stories and 40 feet.

Building height within the Alabama Street, California Street and New York Street transit villages would be limited to four stories and 52 feet.

“Because of the pandemic, it’s been difficult to get signatures,” said Leonard. “It’s not that people don’t want to sign. It’s just hard to formulate how to collect them. We had a station at Gerrards that worked well for a while. What we finally figured out was to canvass neighborhoods and set up localized signing stations. I walked 230 homes the other day. On Saturday, Feb. 6, we will be at the corner of Colton Avenue and University Street for a drive-thru signing.”

Leonard said the group has about 10 volunteers and received 100 signatures over the weekend.

“We have been doing this since August,” said Leonard. “I got involved during the Measure G campaign. It’s interesting because we all thought it was solved when the measure failed. But the city came back with its Transit Specific Plan, which includes high-rise buildings. Residents don’t want high rises downtown. It takes a conversation to explain what the city is planning to do, and people can’t believe it. They are astounded and angry.”

According to the Transit Villages Specific Plan, up to 30% of the building footprint area can be four stories/65 feet, provided an equal amount of building footprint area is no taller than two stories/30 feet.

Buildings on parcels located adjacent to single-family zoned parcels must step down to two stories/25 feet. Up to 30% of the building footprint area can be five stories/65 feet, provided an equal amount of building footprint area is no taller than three stories/45 feet.

The city said the Transit Villages Specific Plan does not allow for high-rise buildings (13 floors or above) and will not allow mid-rise buildings (six to 12 floors).

According to the Redlands Transit Villages website, the majority of the Transit Villages Specific Plan would be limited to two or three stories in most districts. Only the Village Center district around the train stations would allow up to four stories on average.

Though the city says high-rises are not a threat, residents are still wary.

“Our total amount of signatures so far is close to 4,000,” said Leonard.

According to City Clerk Donaldson, Elections Code 9215 states that the signature threshold levels are based on the last report of registration by the county elections office to the Secretary of State. As of the report from July 3, Redlands has 42,716 registered voters. For the petition to be put on the next general election ballot, it would need a 10% threshold of 4,272 signatures. For the city to call a special election, the petition would need a 15% threshold of 6,408 signatures.

“We are close to the 4,272, but what happens is some signatures won’t be valid,” said Leonard. “Some who sign either don’t live in Redlands or don’t sign it correctly, so we need more to cover for that. To be comfortable, I think we would need about 4,600.”