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 bfoote@cityofredlands.org. 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 bfoote@cityofredlands.org 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.


PLEASE take time & get involved!

Here is a heads up on an important issue that WILL have a huge effect on the future of Redlands. The city has commissioned a consultant (for $330,000) to write an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) in support of the revised Downtown Specific Plan (DSP).

September 1st through the 30th is the public review/comment period on the EIR. This EIR is the linchpin to the approval of the DSP.

If this plan is approved there will be tall buildings (High Rises), density, traffic congestion, reduced parking, and increased water usage in the Downtown Transit Villages Area. Please take the time to get involved by going on the following website: https://www.cityofredlands.org/post/environmental-documents (click on the button for Environmental Documents for Public Review).

Send comments to:

Brian Foote

City of Redlands

35 Cajon Street, Suite 20

P.O. Box 3005

Redlands, CA 92373

Or email him at:


There will be a scoping meeting on Sept. 15th at 5:00 p.m. via zoom. Pre-register at this link:

https://cityofredlands.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN CeKX1x4PQiWQsKjl1wzEUQ


Another tool the city is using is a survey for residents. This will be used to influence the direction of the city. The city has hired a Wisconsin consulting firm. The survey will take at least 16 minutes. There are 32 questions. (These are actually sections of related questions.)

polco.us/redlandsncs2021     <—-   The link to the survey


Questions 1-8:  Living in Redlands • how you feel about it • how you rate services

Question 9:  How often have you interacted with the city • how often do you use transportation other than car

Question 10:  Rating of city services (by department)

Question 11:  Rate categories of Redlands government performance (honest, transparent, respectful, etc.)

Question 12:  Contrast service in Redlands to Federal government services

Question 13:  How important do you think it is for Redlands to focus on: Parks & Rec • Health & Wellness • Education • Culture & Arts • Connections & community engagement

Question 14:  To what degree is homelessness a problem in Redlands?

Question 15:  Specific city actions to possibly implement about homelessness

Question 16:  How strongly would you oppose/support a city built & maintained transitional housing project for homelessness ($1 million annual cost)

Question 17:  Building heights downtown—how strongly would you support/oppose 3, 4, 5 stories

Question 18-32:  All about you • your income • your home • your race • etc.



This is from the Redlands Community News (by Bill Cunningham, former mayor of Redlands):

The Friends of Redlands and Redlanders for Responsible Growth Management were disappointed but not surprised by the City Council’s vote to postpone a vote on our measure until November 2022, some 15 months without resolution of an issue which will determine the future of our town.

We welcome Mayor  Paul Barich’s suggestion that we meet and seek compromise on those issues we can agree upon. Over the next several weeks we will seek to meet with each member of the council. We will seek an opportunity to meet with University of Redlands officials, also.

Looming over all is the state’s effort to rob cities of local control of their futures. SB 330 prohibits all restrictions on growth, no matter how justified by environmental concerns. It is interesting to note that three years after its adoption, of the several dozen cities with voter approved growth management controls, only one, Encinitas, has been challenged. Its 30-foot height limit is being tested in the courts.

We do agree with the city’s consultant attorney and Councilman Paul Foster that any litigation prior to the election could likely take several years, tying up all development for that time.

We were surprised that Councilwoman Jenna Guzman-Lowery, once again, voiced criticism of our campaign in duping a gullible public about high-rise buildings as defined as those over 75 feet. It was apparent that she had not read the commissioned fiscal report, which analyzed the three, five story apartment projects currently proposed. The bank building is six stories at 85 feet, just 10 feet taller than those at five. Ignored, also, was the fact that there is no height limit downtown.

We can excuse southwest Los Angeles native Councilman Eddie Tejeda’s  remarks blaming the failure of the mall on growth management. The mall was developed several years before Proposition R. And both the anchors, Harris Co. and Gottschalk’s, were profitable. One or the other might be there today, if their parent companies had not failed. And, of course, CVS continues to be a profitable tenant.


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

Reasons Why The City Council Should Adopt The Initiative And Not Delay Until 2022 General Election

As you know, the City Council opted to order reports on the effects of the proposed Growth Management initiative before making a decision on whether to adopt the initiative, hold a Special Election, or make us wait until Nov. 2022 for a General Election. If the Council decides that we need to wait until 2022 for a general election, it would be a slap in the face of every Redlander who voted against Measure G (which was voted down by 65%).  With that, the City Council will make their decision on the initiative at the Council meeting on Tuesday, August 3.

Here are just a few reasons why the City needs to adopt the initiative:

*Grossly unfair to residents to make residents wait until 2022 to vote on an issue that was already soundly defeated in March, 2020 with the defeat of Measure G

*The initiative literally fulfills the motto we see on Redlands Fire Trucks:  preserving the past, protecting the future

*The current Transit Village Area plan demonstrates a form of ageism by making concerted efforts to limit public parking and automobiles while focused on walking and biking.  This, by default, excludes the elderly (17% of Redlands population), as well as the disabled

*A six-level parking structure at the old mall would be visually and practically excessive when considering the small footprint of the site

*Using official (SKAG) density ratios, the mall site alone, with its  722 multi-family units, would average 1,800 people living in the heart of downtown Redlands, and that would mean more traffic congestion on our already crowded streets, more city services needed, more water used during a drought ( while we are on water restrictions)

*Justice delayed is justice denied

*City of Redlands website touts that our quality of life comes from “a big town with a small-town feel” – but with unlimited building heights, the possibility of 4, 5, and even 6 story buildings is a reality, and one that would certainly nullify that “small-town feel”

*With no building height limits in place, it is a reality that this City Council or any future Council may decide to build 4, 5, and 6 story buildings.  There is no guarantee that they won’t unless a cap is on the books.  Per Brian DeSatnik, Director of Development Services:  “Current zoning in the downtown has no limit on building height.”

*We followed the rules by gathering enough signatures to qualify for a Special Election because we found an overwhelmingly positive response – the City should not punish us for that

*Redlands isn’t a town but a place with attributes unmatched in So Cal

*The initiative does not restrict growth, its intent is to preserve the character of our historic downtown

*There is a 3-story apartment building underway 2 blocks from the Mall

*At the Transit Village areas, it makes no sense to recruit 6,000 commuters to come to Redlands, making 150 round trips to the LA job centers, every extra mile is another nail in the climate coffin.

*The 3-story limit was in place for about 3 decades, all through the planning engineering, and funding phase of the rail project. At no time did anyone question the existing 3 limit

*The only reason for the 6,000 is to hopefully help pay off a part of the ½ billion costs

*We believe a number of cities have a 3 story limit on apartments near their transit stations (e.g. Claremont) as photos appear to show that nearly all buildings in Old Pasadena are 3 stories

*Redlands had more than enough vacant land to satisfy Redlands Housing Needs Assessment into the future

*4 and 5-stories will leave most north-south downtown streets in shadow much of the day

*Jack Dangermond’s “Packinghouse District” (Sprouts center) shows what can be done under the initiative (a visually pleasing, appropriately landscaped, and successful endeavor under 3 stories tall)

*Friends of Redlands does not oppose growth.  The population has doubled since Proposition R was put in place, and we continue to add thousands

*Absent companies and industries locating here, a large addition of people aggravates the “jobs-housing balance,” a state planning goal. Ergo – those commuters should live close to their LA /OC jobs

*“Jewel of the Inland Empire” is a fragile image, any excessive change to our town would sacrifice it

*The housing downtown will not be “affordable,” but rather, as Councilwoman Davis described it, the housing downtown will be “aspirational”

*The reason tourists come to Redlands and spend their money at our local establishments is precisely that it is a historical town and has not been overrun by unlimited growth and dominated by tall buildings and congestion like every other trendy and ubiquitous “urban center”

August 3 is when the City Council will hold its meeting to decide the very future (and possible fate) of Redlands.  Be there.  6:00 pm.








The next step for our Growth Management Initiative has been agendized for Tuesday’s in-person City Council Meeting on July 6:  

A. Receive and file the City Clerk’s certification of the Redlanders for Responsible Growth Management’s – “An Initiative Ordinance of The People of Redlands Amending the Principles of Managed Development of the Redlands General Plan;”

B. Consideration of options pursuant to Elections Code Section 9215 of either: (i) adopt the initiative ordinance, without alteration; (ii) submit the initiative ordinance to the voters of the City of Redlands at the November 2022 regular municipal election; (iii) call for a special election for October 12, 2021, and request an additional appropriation of $505,000 for special election costs; or (iv) order reports on the effects of the proposed initiative ordinance to be presented to the City Council at its meeting of August 3, 2021 (City Clerk Donaldson)

We will press the Council to inform our group and the nearly 8,000 people who signed the petition whether our initiative will be on the October 12 Special Election ballot, bumped to the November 2022 general election, or whether they will cut to the chase and save the City $500,000 by adopting the initiative.  The last option would seem to be the logical choice given that the City Council saw Measure G go down in defeat by a whopping  66% to 34% margin.

As such, we are asking that as many of you as possible make a point to attend the meeting.  This is the City Council’s first meeting now open to the public, and given that we are on the agenda it would be a positive image to see a good turnout of supporters.  We have been advised to arrive by 5:30 pm as they expect a full house.  Comments must be submitted before 3:00 pm on Monday!


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.”