REDLANDS COMMUNITY NEWS: FOES OF TALL BUILDINGS IN REDLANDS FILE PETITIONS FOR SPECIAL ELECTION

From the Redlands Community News:

The Friends of Redlands and Redlands for Responsible Growth Management turned in signatures calling for a special election to stop tall and dense development on Monday, June 7.

The groups have been collecting signatures since September to limit building height to three stories in Redlands. The groups do not approve of Orange County-based Village Partners’ proposed plan to build five-story buildings and a six-level parking garage on the Redlands Mall site.

“It is amazing what citizens can do when they want to save their city,” said group member John Berry. “Eighteen percent of registered voters in Redlands signed our petition. This was a bipartisan effort to save Redlands.”

The registrar of voters has 30 business days to verify signatures.

“Approximately by mid-July, City Clerk Jeanne Donaldson will make a report to the City Council and give them the final signature result,” said Berry. “One option the City Council can do is they can accept our petition in lieu of an election. The city would pay over half a million dollars to put on our election. So City Council can save money by accepting our petition.”

To qualify for a special election, the petition needed 6,409 valid signatures. The signature count handed into city hall was 7,715, which still needs verification by the registrar of voters.

Former Redlands Mayor Bill Cunningham, who developed the growth management initiative last September, said it is not just about building heights.

“It also includes issues with traffic and noise requirements,” said Cunningham.

“Without this initiative, the city’s general plan would be eviscerated. We can’t have that. Our signature number is pleasantly surprising because we started when lockdowns were still happening in 2020. People would say they wanted to sign but wouldn’t want to come up to a person with a clipboard. Our petition limits apartments to 500 units instead of the proposed 722, limits building heights to three stories, and lowers the parking garage by two levels.

“Another thing that is disappointing with Village Partners’ proposed plan is it doesn’t extend State Street through, which is important,” continued Cunningham.

“The new location they have for CVS Pharmacy on the south side of Citrus Avenue at Eureka Street is terrible. It takes CVS out of the center of town, which is a prime location they have now.”

“There is so much talent in the city,” said Schneider. “Why is the city relying on Orange County developers who don’t know Redlands?

“I would even love to see Esri come up with something.”

REDLANDS DAILY FACTS: A WHOPPING 7,715 GROWTH MANAGEMENT INITIATIVE PETITION SIGNATURES SUBMITTED TO THE CITY

From the Redlands Daily Facts:

A ballot initiative that would limit heights of buildings in the area around the upcoming rail line could be before Redlands voters this year after supporters wheeled thousands of signed petitions into the City Clerk’s Office on Monday, June 7.

About two dozen supporters, most wearing yellow “no high rises” T-shirts, gathered in front of City Hall as the four boxes of signatures, representing 10 months of effort, rolled in on a dolly.

While there are no current plans for high rises in Redlands, which the National Fire Protection Association says are more than 75 feet in height — or about seven stories tall — the sentiment among initiative supporters was clear.

“If it weren’t for (city officials’) hubris and their callousness we wouldn’t be here,” John Berry, one of the lead organizers of the petition gathering, told supporters gathered at City Hall. “To them, we would just be another Orange County condo canyon city.”

Those gathered expressed frustration the city is moving forward with a plan for development along the train tracks, despite voters last year rejecting Measure G, which was a proposed rollback of restrictions in those areas.

Since then, an April 2020 draft of the Transit Villages Specific Plan calls for allowing buildings an average of four stories and 65 feet tall nearest the newly completed train stations. Public hearings on that draft plan are tentatively set for spring 2022.

Despite Measure G’s failure, city officials have said, developers proposing projects can still utilize the exemptions that are in 1997’s voter-approved Measure U, which imposed several restrictions on development.

On May 18, four-fifths of the City Council voted that a project with an average height of four stories planned for the Redlands Mall site qualified for one of those exemptions.

While waiting outside the City Clerk’s Office, Bill Cunningham, former mayor and the man behind both Measure U and the new initiative, said the new proposal would close a loophole in Measure U.

The loophole “really eviscerates the general plan, and development standards of the city,” Cunningham said. “It gives a willing council (license) to make all kinds of concessions, as many city councils do, and we just can’t have that, at least I don’t think the people of Redlands are willing to have that.”

Cunningham provided the honorary final petition signature for the new campaign on Monday morning.

A summary prepared by the Redlands city attorney noted the proposed measure would change several sections of the general plan, including:

  • Limiting building heights near downtown and university rail stations to three stories.
  • Limiting building heights near possible future Alabama and California street rail stations, and near the New York Street station, to four stories.
  • Requiring one parking space for every bedroom in proposed residential developments

Hotels, however, would be allowed at any height the City Council chooses, under the proposed measure.

Three weeks ago, Berry said, he didn’t think volunteers could gather more than 7,000 signatures, but by June 1 they had, and they “surged” across the finish line. Supporters say they have 7,715 signatures. City Clerk Jeanne Donaldson will likely verify that number on Tuesday, Berry said.

With signatures of 10% of registered voters, the measure could be before voters in the city’s next general election, set for November 2022. With 15%, or 6,407 signatures, the measure could go before voters in a special election. Supporters had until Feb. 8 to gather signatures but won a lawsuit to get an extension to June 8 due to the pandemic.

If all the signatures are valid, they would represent 18% of registered voters in Redlands.

The San Bernardino County Registrar of Voters has 30 days to verify signatures, then the city clerk will report to the City Council.

Officials could accept the petition in lieu of an election, Berry said.

A special election could cost about $500,000.

If the council decides to have a special election, it could be as early as mid-November or early December.

“The battle is not over,” Berry said. “It’s just moving to a new phase.”

YES, WE DID VOTE AGAINST HIGH-RISE BUILDINGS IN DOWNTOWN REDLANDS

An excellent letter in the Redlands Community News by resident Julie Spiller:

I want to voice my strong feelings against what the City Council (not Paul Foster, of course, he rightly voted against an exemption for the State Street developer) has done by approving an exemption to allow 3, 4, 5 or 6 stories in the mall area.

It is insane to think 722 housing units in that area make sense.

We have water restrictions, drought, lack of parking and traffic congestion in downtown and elsewhere in town. I am still wondering how the train coming through, especially Alabama Street, will work with the people already and historically continuing on through red lights, into and remaining illegally in the intersection of Redlands Boulevard and Alabama while traffic is held up and safety is impaired.

The voters of Redlands voted 66% against anything over three stories in Redlands, including downtown.

Count me as one of thousands of unsatisfied citizens who voted against what is being condoned by the council.

I thank Mr. Foster for representing the citizens.

 

REPORT: HIGH-RISE INITIATIVE REACHES SIGNATURE MINIMUM FOR SPECIAL ELECTION

From the Redlands Community News:

The Friends of Redlands’ Stop Hi-Rise Initiative has gained enough signatures for a special election this year and a ballot measure in 2022. The registrar of voters still needs to validate the signatures.

The community group started collecting signatures in September and has amassed more than  6,409, according to member Nicole Rinehardt.

The Friends of Redlands’ goal is to restrict building height to three stories in the city. The petition needs 4,272 valid signatures, or 10% of the city’s 42,000 voters, for a ballot measure in 2022. It needs 6,409 or 15% of the city’s voters for a special election this year.

“We need a special election this fall to stop hi-rise projects from being built this year,” said Rinehardt. “If we wait for a general election next year, the Redlands City Council might approve projects before voters get their say.”

Rinehardt said the initiative would limit building heights to 40 feet in the downtown and University of Redlands Transit Villages Areas. It would allow building heights of 52 feet in the New York Street/ESRI Transit Villages Area.

The initiative would also prevent buildings taller than two stories next to single-story homes without the consent of the owner of the single-story home, increase parking requirements and replace a four-fifths council vote enabling density exceptions with a unanimous vote.

Rinehardt said the Friends of Redlands originally formed during Measure G.

“We are an offshoot of that group,” she said. “We are bipartisan, concerned citizens looking at maintaining Redlands’ heritage.”

Rinehardt said the group has concerns with Village Partners Ventures’ proposed plan for the Redlands Mall.

“The reason for this petition is to let the voters decide on the magnitude of city development,” said Rinehardt.

“Our group isn’t against development. That is a misconception. We want residents to have a chance to vote about what they want to see. We want people to have a voice. And we want to have something that fits more with our heritage. We want a responsible scale, and right now, it’s not to scale with the downtown area. We don’t want to have a cluster of buildings.

“Everyone comes to the table with a different definition of what a high-rise building is,” continued Rinehardt. “California defines a high-rise as 75 feet tall. The City Bank downtown is 85 feet tall. We would like to have a cap on three stories in that area.”

The deadline for the Friends of Redlands to turn in their petition to the city clerk is June 8. They are still looking for more signatures.

“We have no idea how many signatures could be invalidated,” Rinehardt said. “We must build the signature buffer to ensure success.”

Check it out, and make sure to take the poll below the article, which you can read here.  Let’s get those numbers up!!!

 

 

JUST SAY NO: MALL SITE PROPOSAL INCLUDES STRUCTURE AS TALL AS CITI BANK BUILDING ON STATE STREET

Per Redlands Daily Facts:

Village Partners’ proposal for State Street Village includes mixed-use, three-, four- and five-story buildings with up to 722 housing units, but the builder is open to revisiting the five-story features, according to company principal Don Henry…The proposal also includes a six-level parking structure with 780 spaces…

To help visualize just how tall these structures would be, the Citi Bank on State Street is six-stories tall. Thus it’s easy to see what an imposing eyesore a six-story parking structure would be.  In a zoom meeting with the City of Redlands Planning Dept. two weeks ago, Village Partners said that five-story buildings would surround the parking structure to help block the view of it.  But, if five-story buildings are necessary to help block the view of the parking structure, then it’s highly unlikely that Village Partners will revisit the issue as they claim.  Apparently, they need buildings that tall to offset the giant parking structure.

Friends of Redlands continues to collect signatures for a Growth Management initiative that would place a cap on building heights of 3 stories in our historic downtown and at the Transit Vllage areas.  When one considers the  proportions of our downtown and the height of the Citi Bank building, and then visualizes the Mall site having a structure that tall with structures surrounding it that are nearly that tall, it’s easy to see what a disproportionate eyesore the proposed new builds would be.  They would easily swallow up our charming historic downtown. 

Let’s develop downtown, but let’s do it in a smart and thoughtful way and one that enhances our unique historical charms because that is why people and tourists are drawn to downtown Redlands in the first place.  Making us look like any other pedestrian urban center with a bigger-is-better mentality does not enhance the visual “jewel of the Inland Empire”.  Rather it destroys it.

 

GROWTH MANAGEMENT INITIATIVE: PETITION SIGNING BLITZ!

MAY DAY! MAY DAY!  MAY DAY!

Get ready for our petition signing blitz Saturday, May 1 throughout Redlands.  We are going to have one big, last push for petition signatures.  As we are well on our way to collecting enough signatures to qualify the Growth Management initiative for a ballot, we want to finish STRONG.  If you haven’t signed the petition, or know someone who hasn’t, there will be three conveniently located signing stations where you can drive by (you don’t even have to get out of your car!) and sign a petition:

PROSPECT PARK (Corner of Highland/Cajon) 9:00 am – 3:00 pm

SYLVAN PARK (Corner of University/Colton) 9:00 am – 3:00 pm

Corner of Brookside/San Mateo (near Carolyn’s Cafe) 8:00 am – 12:00

Spread the word!  Let’s get this done!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IT WOULD BE SO EASY FOR THE CITY OF REDLANDS TO REASSURE DOUBTFUL RESIDENTS

The easiest and most effective way for the City of Redlands to convince residents who doubt officials’ dismissive reassurances that they won’t approve high-rises downtown is to get it on the books and make it official:

A report in the Feb. 25 issue of the Redlands Community News focused on efforts made by various consultants, council members and officials to convince skeptical residents that there will be no high-density high-rises in Transit Village areas.

The easiest and most effective way to reassure a doubting public would be to publicly endorse the Growth Management Initiative sponsored by Redlanders for Responsible Growth Management and supported by the Friends of Redlands, a local civic group concerned with protecting the historic charm of downtown Redlands.

The initiative would limit building heights to 40 feet in the Downtown and University of Redlands Transit Villages areas, prevent buildings taller than two stories next to single-story homes without the consent of the owner of the single-story home, increase parking requirements over what is specified in the Transit Villages plan, and replace a 4/5 council vote enabling density exceptions with a 5/5 council vote.

This is necessary so four city council members could not override the objections of a fifth council member opposing its location. This makes every voting district equally powerful. If the City signed onto this, it would provide the reassurance the public needs.

We want the Jewel of the Inland Empire to remain just that. Smart, well thought-out development that enhances our historical downtown rather than devouring it, would be welcomed.

 

 

LET MALL DEVELOPERS KNOW HOW YOU FEEL ABOUT THE FUTURE OF THE MALL

Village Partners, which currently owns the Redlands Mall, is asking for public input on the future of the mall. The City’s Transit Villages Plan says that State St. would be extended to Eureka and bisected by 4th St. Apartments would be built on the 4 blocks created by street changes. THERE ARE NO HEIGHT LIMITATIONS IN THIS AREA. We are advocating that the mall be refurbished and landscaped, and turned into a new civic center for city offices, meeting halls, and a police station.  By repurposing the mall with Dangermond-styled landscaping (see: Packing House), and exterior/interior remodel, the City would provide expansive space for a varitety of services. Equally as important, this would not eliminate critically needed free public parking. If apartments are built, where would visitors park when coming downtown to shop, eat, attend graduations, and summer Bowl events? Where would local business owners and employees park? People would be forced to park even farther out into neighborhoods in front of homes.  Not only would the parking problem be further compounded, it would also discourage visitors to our downtown, as well as frustrate neighboring home  owners. Let’s refurbish an already existing building. In the hands of professionals, the ugly eyesore can be transformed into an attractive, multi-use structure that would benefit Redlands. It would also keep our civic center downtown.
Village Partners, is hoping to host some Zoom workshops with community members to learn about the community’s desires for the property going forward. This will inform their plans and proposals for redeveloping the site. Please contact them below if you are interested in participating and/or emailing them your thoughts.

If you’d like to participate, please fill out this poll: https://forms.gle/3H3KNP9qCXVPdGRQ6 For questions, contact Kaitlin Morris at kaitlin@villagepartners.com.

WE’RE ALMOST THERE!

We are excited to share with you that, in just five months’ time, we have collected more than 5,000 signatures for our Growth Management initiative petition!  This is really wonderful news!  Barring inadmissible signatures, the Growth Management initiative has now qualified for a General Election.  However, because a General Election will not take place for nearly two years, we are hoping to collect a total of 7,000 signatures to qualify for a Special Election.  A Special Election would happen much sooner, and that benefits us by limiting the time that the City has to proceed with its current plan.  If we win a Special Election, the City would be forced to adhere much more quickly to voted-in height limits in the downtown Transit Village areas.   If we have to wait for a General Election, the City would have more time to push full-steam ahead without building height limits in the Transit Village areas.

Remember that Brian Desatnik, Director of Development Services, reminded us why it is imperative that we collect enough signatures to get the Growth Management initiative on a ballot:

“Current zoning in the downtown has no limit on building height.”

So this is why we are imploring you to help us reach our goal,  We have until June 1 (with the extension granted us) to get this done.  Every signature counts, so if you know anyone who wants to sign a petition, call John at (909) 496-1539, hit reply to this email, or email PreserveRedlandsNow@yahoo.com.  We are happy to take a petition anywhere for a signature or provide you with a petition to collect signatures.

We are having another petition signing station at the corner of Cajon and Highland (Prospect Park) this Saturday,  March 13 (9:00 am – 3:00 pm).  Last Saturday’s signing station at Prospect Park resulted in 180 signatures!

We are also planning for two signing stations at Brookeside Park (between Terracina and Bellevue above Brookside on Saturday,  March 20 (9:00 am – 3:00 pm) and Saturday, March 27 (9:00 am – 3:00 pm).  We are looking for volunteers to help.  Whether it’s one hour or three hours, we’ll gladly take whatever you can give!  If you want to help make sure that we collect enough signatures to qualify the initiative for a Special Election, then this is a great way to do it.  The requirements are minimal:  wear a hat to protect against the sun, wear a smile, and briefly chat with residents about why the initiative is necessary.  Cheat sheets will be available.  Or if you prefer, you can simply hold up a “Save Redlands Now” sign to draw attention to the signing station.  Remember, the City is already moving ahead with its plans.  The time to act is now, not later.

Thank you to everyone who has helped to gather more than 5,000 signatures!   Remember, we did that in five months’ time.  With your help, we can easily collect another 2,000 signatures in the remaining three months. Let’s keep the momentum going and get this done!

DRIVE-THRU PETITION SIGNING THIS SATURDAY!!

Friends of Redlands (FOR) is a non-partisan community group that provides residents a way to effectively monitor and influence city policies to protect our city’s unique heritage and charm.

The Redlands City Council has refused to accept the defeat of Measure G and is moving ahead with the Transit Villages Plan. It would allow high-rise apartments of 70’ and up to 6000 people living in the downtown Transit Villages Area along the railroad tracks.

“Current zoning in the downtown has no limit on building height.”

(Brian Desatnik, Director of Development Services)

The only way to STOP the city and prevent high-rises next to single-family homes is to pass a citizen initiative to limit building heights and density. Friends of Redlands is asking you to SIGN THE PETITION to get this initiative on a future ballot. This initiative would:

*Close loopholes preventing future councils from building high-density apartment units

*Replace 4/5 council vote enabling density exceptions with a 5/5 council vote

*Eliminate General Plan exemption allowing higher density near future Metrolink

stations

*Prevent buildings taller than two stories next to single-family homes

*Place hard limit of three stories and 40’ on buildings w/in Downtown Transit Village

*Significantly increase parking requirements throughout the transit village areas

 

Friends of Redlands will be collecting signatures on the following dates at the corner of Cajon and Highland at Prospect Park:

Saturday, March 6 (9:00 am – 3:00 pm)

Saturday:  March 13 (9:00 am – 3:00 pm)

If you have any questions, please email us a PreserveRedlandsNow@yahoo.com or call John at (909) 496-1539.