A real nemesis to our Citizen’s Initiative to limit building heights and density in the Transit Villages Area downtown is California State law SB330. This law could override some of the building requirements in the Citizen’s Initiative. In addition, the state has passed two other draconian laws, SB 9 and 10. These two laws destroy local control over our zoning laws and in the process “tank” private property values by allowing for uncontrolled development in residential areas.

However, there is hope on the horizon. There is a citizen’s initiative brewing that would reverse SB 330, SB9 and 10 and prevent Sacramento from dictating local zoning laws. Go to:

and see Our Neighborhood Voices website to find out more about this movement. This is all about preserving local control and single family homes.

Friends of Redlands is considering helping by collecting signatures for the StopSacramento petition drive.

We can’t stay silent

NOTE: Since the city elites choose to ignore the result of Measure G and the success of our initiative petition WHICH WILL BE ON THE NOVEMBER BALLOT, we must keep communicating by as many ways as possible, and as often as necessary. Here is an example of a letter that was published in the Redlands Community News and also sent to city government officials. You could write a similar letter expressing your opinion to the editor, or to the City Council or Planning Commissioners, or any other entity you are involved with. We can’t stay silent.  “As one politician said, ‘You don’t get what you don’t fight for.’ ” (Stolen Focus, Johann Hari, Crown Books, 2022, page 277.)

Subject: Mall Proposal

Regarding your article of 4/14 pertaining to plans for the mall property, it was a fair recap of the hearing. It appears the City Council and Planning Commission have become promoters of the State Street Village proposal for the mall. Resident participants in the hearings want the mall property developed but there are sticking points that they acknowledge. They said that the proposed architectural design did not fit the theme of downtown. The issue of parking was also a concern. There was agreement that the redevelopment of the mall will “have a major impact on the city for decades to come” and the project “must be done right.”

However, what was missing from the conversation was any reference to the impact of the defeat of Measure G by 65% of Redlands voters. If it had passed the City Council would have been given total control over the development in the downtown area with no limit on building heights, residential density, or overall magnitude of the project. The voters overwhelmingly rejected this overreach because they did not want tall buildings and more congestion in the downtown. The Citizen’s Growth Initiative petition, that was endorsed by 7700 Redlands voters, also rejected the intent of Measure G. It is clear that most voters in Redlands do not want a massive development in the core of their city.

Also missing is the fact that currently there is no height limit downtown and that the mall proposal shows a building 75′ tall (for reference 300 State Street is 85′ tall). State Street Partners is telling us that the mall proposal will only have 4 story buildings. City Planning says that a 4 story building is 55″ plus additions like an elevator tower, penthouse, steeple, water tower, etc. Four story is a “smoke screen” for a building 65′ tall or as the proposal states 75′.

During the hearing and response period there was no mention of the substantial increase in population downtown with 700 new apartments at the mall site and an estimated 350 more apartments planned for the sites of the old Safety Hall and the corner of Eureka and Redlands Blvd. These apartments could easily add 3000 people and 1500 more vehicles within a city block radius of Citrus and Eureka. And, what about considering the increase in delivery and service vehicles contributing to the congestion.

There was no discussion as to who will pay for the required infrastructure like water and sewer mains, sidewalks, street paving or if the “Zanja” running under the mall property will need to be modified and if so, who will pay for this. Then there is the question of the ongoing future cost to the taxpayer of additional public safety services, such as police and fire, to service the increase in population. Also, what about the impact on the schools with the increase in population?

Our comments make it sound like Friends of Redlands is against development. We are not. What we are against is out of control growth in Redlands historical downtown.  It is only fair that Redlanders are truthfully informed and get answers to all the critical issues surrounding this project before it is approved because it “must be done right” for the future of Redlands.

Merry Smith – Friends of Redlands

Building heights in Redlands

Hello all! The Friends of Redlands Committee is still alive and well. We are fulfilling our mandate to keep you informed and up to date on city actions and working to Save Redlands from high rises, density, traffic and congestion.

Over the past two months we have filed three Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. We are asking questions about the city’s plans for building heights downtown and the U of R Transit Villages Area (TVA). Here is what we have discovered:


  1. The city responded to our first records request saying that the height limit downtown in the TVA was 55’ (currently, building heights in the TVA are governed by the Downtown Specific Plan 45). That is the height of the new Stuart Street Parking Garage. Another records request revealed that the new Third Street Commercial Building (next to the garage) is 58’+. So, what gives? There are loopholes to the 55’ limit allowing higher buildings. Things like, penthouses, elevator shaft housings, chimneys, steeples, water tanks, skylights, roof structures, etc., are allowed. So, how high could a building be?
  2. We filed another records request asking for the most up to date Transit Villages Specific Plan Draft (has yet to be approved). This shows a diagram of a 65’ tall building with an undefined dimension that would be allowed in the TVA. Let’s speculate that on top of this 65’ a “roof structure” is added on. What would be the result? A building 75’ tall or taller (the California Health and Safety Code 13210 defines a high rise as 75’ or taller)? Remember 300 State, the new city hall, is 85’ tall.


From all these FOIA requests and our conversations with the city it is apparent that there are exceptions and loopholes to building heights downtown and the TVA. These exceptions are part of a larger problem. The City Planning Department along with the developers can increase the heights of buildings and the public will be kept in the dark until the buildings are completed. Then it is too late!




Friends of Redlands is planning ahead for the battle with the city to get our Citizen’s Initiative approved by the voters next November. We want to expand our list of supporters so we can inform more Redlanders on what FOR is doing and the latest actions by the city.

                                                       WE NEED YOUR HELP!

If you know anyone who wants to be added to our email list please let us know. You can send contact information to Larry or go to your website,, go to Contact Us ( on right) and scroll to the bottom of the page to sign up. Thank you.


Candidate, anyone?

The November 2022 election in Redlands will be quite an event. Not only is the Citizen’s Initiative to limit density and building heights on the ballot, but three council members are up for reelection. Mayor Barich and Councilwoman Davis both have terms that are up and Councilman Foster’s seat will be vacant.

Here is an opportunity for someone to run for office. Remember, all five members of the city council dismissed the defeat of Measure G despite being outspent by a 9-1 margin. Then the council voted unanimously to delay the vote on the Citizen’s Initiative signed by 7700 voters. This delay will allow city planning, the planning commission and council a year to dilute the requirements of the Initiative and allow developers to get plans approved before November. How can existing council members run on a record of blatantly ignoring the will of the people??? This is a made to order, winning issue for the right candidate to run on.

So, if you know anyone who supports our efforts and is considering running for council send them our way. Friends of Redlands will put some muscle behind the campaign.

Paid Parking Station
Remember when Redlands had PARKING METERS on State Street? Frustrating to say the least.

Future Downtown Parking

Friends of Redlands is working to keep you informed as to the developments downtown. As you know we collected 7700 signatures to get the Citizen’s Growth Initiative on the ballot and the city delayed the vote until November 2022. In the meantime the city is working very quickly to put in place requirements to nullify The Initiative.

For example, on October 12, the Planning Commission recommended that the City Council vote to modify the parking requirements for developments downtown. These new requirements are contrary to the parking specifications in the Citizen’s Growth Initiative and follow very closely the parking requirements in the Transit Villages Specific Plan Draft (TVSPD) that has not yet been approved. Here is a big question: Can the city do this without approval of the Transit Villages Environmental Impact Report? Friends of Redlands will be asking this question of City Planning.

If the city can make these types of peremptory decisions just wait for the PAID PARKING downtown. Yes, in the Transit Villages Specific Plan Draft PAID PARKING is coming to downtown Redlands.

Chapter 6 of the TVSPD states “That the parking supply is important to the economic success of downtown.” But then the Plan says an “oversupply of parking takes up valuable land that could be used for better purposes, while encouraging additional automobile use.” The plan also says that research has shown that parking needs downtown are often 25% to 50% less than needed and that some cities have reduced parking, and in some cases, eliminated it. The Plan says that parking should be managed efficiently and that it is “reasonable to implement paid parking programs.” “Parking strategies also include in-lieu fees, parking time restrictions, parking permits, or other types of paid parking ….” Remember when Redlands had PARKING METERS on State Street? Frustrating to say the least.

So, there you have it. As more and more people live in the Transit Villages Area and traffic and density increases Redlanders can look forward to parking meters, parking permits, time limited parking and other paid parking schemes.

A view of proposed State Street village
A view of proposed State Street Village

Downtown Development Update

Did you see the Community News, Friday October 1st, front page headline?

“Planning Commission backs downtown Redlands projects.”

The two projects are Redlands City Center on the site of the old Safety Hall and a Vantage One multifamily project at the corner of Redlands Boulevard and Eureka Street. These projects along with the Village Partners Mall project will put 966 apartments and an estimated 2000 plus people living within a radius of ONE city block. The developers say that the buildings will be 4 stories with 5 story elements and a 6 story parking garage within the Village Partners Mall project.

Remember, the city’s Transit Villages Specific Plan defines a 4 story building as being 65’ tall with an undefined dimension meaning that a 4 story building could be over 75’ tall, making it a high rise structure by California standards. We have asked city planning to give us the absolute dimensional limit for a four, five and six story building. No answer. What are they afraid of?

image of apartments & parking
An apartment complex with parking garage in Riverside, CA. An indicator of what is coming to Redlands.

A Monolith

Pam, one of our supporters, suggested that Friends of Redlands visit an apartment and parking garage development at the corner of Iowa and University in Riverside. Although this is a huge complex it is an indicator of what is coming to Redlands. Worth a look!

Have you seen the new parking garage on Stuart next to the Arrow train station? This garage is three (3) stories and is designed to house 384 cars. It is quite a monolith. The closer one gets to it the more it blocks the view of the mountains. If you think this is big, Village Partners has a six (6) story parking garage with 780 spaces planned for the mall site. During the morning commute the only way to exit this garage will be onto Redlands Blvd and the only direction is to exit going east and then turning left on Orange St., to get on the I-10. And, don’t forget a delay for the Arrow crossing on Orange. Could be exciting!

One more thing. Please do not forget to comment on the Notice of Preparation (NOP) for the Transit Villages Environmental Impact Report. This will be one of the last chances Redlanders will get to voice their opinions. The NOP states that subjects of “Significant Impact” are water resources, views of the mountains, traffic, noise, population density and parking.

Do your part to Save Redlands by emailing comments to Brian Foote – Planning Manager at We only have until September 30th!!!

UPDATE on Initiative

Hello, supporters of the Initiative!

The Friends of Redlands Committee is alive and well. I know we have been quiet since the August 3rd council decision to put off the election on the Managed Growth Initiative until November 2022. We have been reassessing our goals and actions that we will take over the next year. We fully intend to fight on! A part of our mission is to keep you informed as to what the city is doing. Here is the latest on what the city is doing downtown.

At the August 3rd council meeting Councilman Foster said in effect he would encourage an alternate growth initiative, and would work with anyone/group that would initiate it. We know that the U of R is not in favor of our initiative and wants 4 story buildings. What is the definition of a 4 story building?

The city defines it, in their Transit Village Specific Plan, as 65’ PLUS AN UNDEFINED DIMENSION. What does this mean? Remember the Citi Bank Building/Redlands City Offices is 85’ TALL.

Friends of Redlands fully expects the U of R to partner with the opposition and the city to put an initiative on the November 2022 ballot that contradicts the Managed Growth Initiative that we all signed and supported. KEEP IN MIND THAT THE OPPOSITION CAN WORK WITH THE CITY AND PUT AN INITIATIVE ON THE BALLOT WITHOUT GATHERING ANY SIGNATURES. NO SIGNATURES! “0”!

Transit Villages Specific Plan: EIR and NOP UPDATE

The city is preparing the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the Transit Villages Specific Plan (TVSP). This EIR is the linchpin to the TVSP. The EIR will determine if the city and developers get their way to allow high rise buildings, increased population density, noise and air pollution, restrictive parking and water and sewer resource management. FOR encourages you to take the time and get involved by SENDING COMMENTS TO Brian Foote, City Planning Manager at by SEPTEMBER 30TH.  Also SIGN UP FOR THE ZOOM WEBINAR ON SEPTEMBER 15TH AT 4:00 PM. Go to the city website and search Notice of Scoping Meeting and PRE-REGISTER. We cannot emphasize how IMPORTANT THIS IS to the FUTURE OF REDLANDS.

The Notice of Preparation (NOP) for the EIR is available at AK Smiley and at the City Planning Division. We have reviewed the NOP. There are numerous issues that the NOP says will have “SIGNIFICANT IMPACTS” on the future of Redlands.

Check out these pages in the NOP:

    • Page 27: a table of estimated population in the TVA. We think this is an underestimate.
    • Pages 40/41: tall buildings and views of the mountains
    • Pages 50/51: air quality
    • Page 65: emissions
    • Pages 70/71: water resources
    • Pages 84/85: police and fire services
    • Page 90: emergency access

City Council update
You have probably heard by now that Councilman Foster is retiring the first of the year and will not serve out his full term (his term is up November 2022). Who will the council appoint to fill out the term?

The FOR Committee thanks you for your support and concern for the future of Redlands.