Once upon a time in the beautiful city of Redlands, a city council approved a high-rise building downtown. It is the only one of its kind that intrusively interrupts the landscape.
Once upon another time in the beautiful city of Redlands, a council must have approved the demolition of a beautiful hotel along with a lovely, unique Elks Lodge in downtown Redlands and replaced it with an albatross of a small shopping mall.

Once upon yet another time in the beautiful city of Redlands, a council approved a lengthy sweetheart lease deal with the CVS drugstore chain. It is the only business still open in the otherwise empty blight of that mall and the city must continue to honor the lease.

There would have been many more such once-upon-a-times and poor decisions were it not for the involvement of concerned citizens. More than once, they have had to go to bat to preserve the unique qualities that make Redlands the Jewel of the Inland Empire. The ones who promote these destructive development ideas no doubt see themselves as visionaries — but the true visionaries are the ones who have worked to keep Redlands unique through their battles fought and won (Measures G, R, N and U).

Living in this beautiful city is like living in a whack-a-mole community. Every time citizens manage to vote down a council effort such as 2020’s Measure G, somehow the powers that be again find the influence and outside money to come up with another scheme that would adversely affect the quality of life and landscape of our beautiful downtown.

And, so, again, a group of concerned citizens rallied to respond to this latest plan and gathered signatures for a petition to put the current plan before the voters of Redlands. Whack, whack, whack! What will pop up next?

Why am I against the current proposed plan for the mall site?

First, why is it that an Orange County entity — Village Partners — was selected to formulate and possibly develop this plan instead of a more local organization? The campaign supporting Measure G was largely funded by outside money. Is that the case here?

Second, I am troubled by the proposed 722 residential units. That is just too many! What would the rent be for these units? Who would qualify? Do we know?

Downtown parking continues to be a huge concern without adding 722 housing units. Many of the residents would still need parking. It’s a pipe dream to assume that most of them only need worry about the walkability of getting to the train station! How will their children get to school? Where will they shop for groceries? And it appears that people like me who might want to patronize downtown are completely forgotten when it comes to our needs.

Another major concern is building height. There are those who speak scornfully about those of us who wish to limit the height of downtown buildings because of the term “high-rise” when referring to five, six or seven stories.

That term is relative to what surrounds us. One of this newspaper’s letter writers said “that horse (high-rise) was already out of the barn,” referring to the Citibank building.

Just because one horse got out of the barn doesn’t mean you need to allow the whole herd to stampede and inflict further damage on Redlands!

City councils of the past made major mistakes as described above. To approve this plan would be yet another mistake as will current plans to destroy the Palm Avenue historic orange grove.

But that is another story.

By Mae Marinello