Redlands Draft Transit Villages Specific Plan Summary
Friends of Redlands has been studying various Redlands plans that significantly affect the city. The plans that are of immediate concern for Friends of Redlands are: The General Plan, The Downtown Specific Plan and the Transit Villages Specific Plan.
Background: Cities all over the United States are required by their state to create plans for the future. The City of Redlands is no exception. It has existing plans—MANY plans. There’s the General Plan, the Bicycle Master Plan, the East Valley Corridor Specific Plan, a Specific Plan for Sunset Hills, a Specific Plan for Redlands Corporate Center, and on and on.
All of these plans will govern the future of Redlands and how its citizens live their daily lives.
The General Plan 2035 has already been approved. The Downtown Specific Plan has yet to be approved by the city council, and the Transit Villages Specific Plan is in draft form. To complete the total planning for downtown will be the Environmental Impact Report (EIR). It is being created by a consultant (for $400,000) under supervision of the Redlands Planning Department. The EIR is the key document for approval of the Downtown Specific Plan and Transit Villages Specific Plan.
The following is a summary of the chapters in the 218-page Redlands Transit Villages Specific Plan. We start with a summary paragraph or two, and then include items quoted directly from the plan. The entire 9–chapter plan is available for download (PDF) at https://redlandstransitvillages.org/.
CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION
The Draft Transit Villages Specific Plan (TVSP) begins with a description of the Arrow commuter train and how the plan is centered around this rail line and the five (5) planned stops. The plan states that since World War II the character of Redlands has been compromised by the personal vehicle.
There are many parcels downtown that are vacant, and the General Plan and TVSP seek to rectify this by building up to 2400 residential units and 500,000 sq ft of commercial on 947 acres. The TVSP applies to parcels within one-half mile of the Downtown, University and New York rail stations. The TVSP is being developed as a result of community outreach, interviews of stakeholders, representatives of SBCT (San Bernardino Transit Authority – AKA Sanbag), Omnitrans, ESRI, and the UR, using debate and consensus–building workshops. This plan will replace current zoning and plans for this area.
Takeaways from the workshops:
- Create a mixed use, multi-modal village
- Generate walkable streets
- Provide bicycle connections
- Replace the Redlands Mall
- Infill vacant lots with buildings 3–4 stories
- Preserve downtown
- Introduce parks
- Complete the Orange Blossom Trail
- Introduce additional parking
With the finalization and approval of the TVSP the 1994 Downtown Specific Plan will be repealed. Measure U has not been a hindrance for Redlands to reach its housing quota.
CHAPTER 2: VISION
This chapter gives the background and vision for the plan and its details, and presents the solution in an overview fashion. The chapter then goes on to describe each train station and surrounding neighborhood as the planners see them.
Current city designs have produced large scale urban sprawl. This is typically single–use zones with the housing tract, shopping center and business park. These segregated areas are a system designed for the rapid movement of cars. The buildings in these areas are uninspiring and repetitive without any obligation to the public space. What is needed is Transit Oriented Development (TOD) that reduces the dependency on the automobile. The compactness of the TOD reduces the amount of parking required.
It is interesting to note that the ESRI station will have no public parking. The Downtown Station Area description is based on input from stakeholders, the community and city staff. The goals for this area are:
- Create a mixed use multi-modal village.
- Recalibrate streets to create an environment for walking and bicycling.
- Replace the Redlands Mall with an interconnected street and paseo network lined with trees.
- Infill vacant parcels and parking lots with buildings up to 3 to 5 stories.
- Preserve downtown historic buildings.
- Build housing for a variety of income levels.
- Introduce pocket parks.
- Introduce additional parking structures as surface parking lots will be infilled with buildings.
- A parking garage would be built on the existing Ed Hales parking lot.
Will be centered on the train station and built on unused parcels east of University St and south to Citrus. A new parking structure will be located north of Ann Peppers Hall. Station parking will be located on–street or angled stalls in parking lots.
The Village South would be connected via a new street from Cypress. There would be a roundabout at the end of the westbound Cypress Ave I–10 off ramp.
CHAPTER 3: REDLANDS MALL
State Street is extended west to Eureka with Third bisecting. This divides the property into 4 blocks like it was. Buildings ranging from 3 to 5 stories can be built. A parking garage would be located in the center of the block facing Redlands Blvd. The mall has 173,000 sq ft of leasable space and a 12,586 sq ft free–standing building. Currently the parking lots provide convenient parking for downtown.
Because of the unfriendly design of the mall the bus stop is an uninviting place to wait for a bus. The plan offers several alternative designs for the mall property, but all divide the property into separate blocks and the design must adhere to transit oriented development.
CHAPTER 4: DEVELOPMENT CODE
This code provides standards for implementing the City’s goals of meeting State of California mandates to increase housing supply near the transit station. It shall be the duty of the City of Redlands to enforce the provisions in the TVSP. All officers, employees of the City of Redlands with the authority to issue permits or licenses shall comply with the provisions of the TVSP. The TVSP is adopted by ordinance and is therefore a specific zoning document that replaces the Redlands Zoning Code. A couple of spreadsheet tables in the chapter show the specified changes and allowed uses.
Building Standards: The next 58 or so pages outline building standards in extensive detail. Of interest is that building heights shall be measured at the front of the building between the finished sidewalk and the top plate of the top floor of the building. There is an “averaged height clause” that says maximum allowed base building height may be exceeded by one story for up to 30% of the building footprint.
There are parking standards for each type of residential and commercial building. For example, for residential units up to 999 sq ft there will be only one allowable parking space. Up to 1499 sq ft 1.5 spaces. For lodging .75 spaces/room.
Required architectural details describe fences, walls, colors, types of materials, kinds of gardens, hedges, types of trees, sizes and footprints of buildings, sidewalks, building facades, courtyards, setbacks, lighting, public art, etc.
CHAPTER 5: TRANSPORTATION AND CIRCULATION
Capitalizing on the Redlands rail system, the TVSP (Transit Villages Specific Plan) provides a framework for the development of a walkable environment for all users—cyclists, transit patrons, and motorists—generating a unique sense of place and calm.
Based on robust input from stakeholders, the community, and city staff the following transportation improvements have been identified:
- Introduce bike lanes along Redlands Blvd, Colton Ave and complete Orange Blossom Trail.
- Provide north-south bicycle connectivity along New York and Texas St.
- Introduce new streets.
- Introduce streets within the Redlands Mall site between Orange and Seventh into a two-way street.
- Pedestrian bulb-outs at key intersections (FOR Note: A bulb-out widens the sidewalk for a short distance. This reduces the crossing distance and allows pedestrians and drivers to see each other when parked vehicles would otherwise block visibility. It removes some parking spaces.)
- Traffic signal at Orange and Shoppers Lane.
- Improve east–west bicycle connectivity by introducing bike lanes along University St, and designating Grove St as a bike route.
- Much of the existing plan area has “Megablocks.” These are hostile to pedestrians and need to be broken up into smaller blocks.
- Underpasses of I–10 are inhospitable to pedestrians and need better lighting and sidewalks.
- A pedestrian crossing of the railroad tracks at Third St.
- Introduce bicycle facilities within the TVSP area.
- Freeway underpasses have narrow roadways and are hostile to cyclists. Add more art work.
- Class ll Lanes for cyclists introduced along Colton, Redlands Blvd, Tennessee, Texas, Center, Eureka, Sixth St, University, Grove and State St.
- Providing the same level of access, security and amenity typically given to cars will encourage bicycle use. Include bicycle parking, bike repair facilities and on–site changing facilities.
- Have abundant and well–placed bicycle racks.
- As bicycle use intensifies, parking for bikes can be accommodated by converting vehicle parking spaces. The on–street space sacrificed for bicycle parking is compensated for the reduced parking demand due to the use of transportation modes other than cars.
- Long term bicycle parking should also be provided downtown with covered or sheltered parking, and should be provided in residential and office buildings. Long term bicycle parking should be accessible 24 hours.
- Provide DIY bicycle repair stands: including tire gauges, air pumps, wrenches, and other tools for minor repairs. DIY repair facilities are a minimal investment that helps keep bicycles in circulation and reduces the need for parking cars.
- Provide on–site facilities within offices and institutional buildings for cyclists to shower and change into fresh clothes.
- Refer to the 2015 Bicycle Master Plan.
- Omnitrans anticipates a system–wide study will be done to identify long term solutions to serve Redlands.
- Select bus routes should be rerouted.
- Bus pullouts should be considered or curb space designated for buses.
CHAPTER 6: PARKING
This chapter describes the strategy for managing parking in the Transit Villages Area (TVA) and downtown. Consideration is given for the Downtown, ESRI and University Transit Villages only. The other two planned villages at Tennessee and Alabama are not considered.
Sufficient parking is essential to the success of downtown. However, too much parking, especially surface lots, can be detrimental to the setting, street character, and unpleasant to pedestrians.
- “Park Once” strategy allows for a single parking space to serve multiple destinations. This compact, mixed use environment reduces the total number of parking spaces needed.
- The “Park Once” strategy is best accommodated in parking garages, enabling more efficient use of land.
- Since parking is expensive to build, and rail transit will offer a viable alternative to vehicles, this reduces the amount of parking needed.
- Implement a Parking Management Strategy. Key components are phased in as parking utilization approaches capacity. Until parking demand approaches capacity most motorists will not readily accept parking management.
- Parking demand can be reduced by providing bike lanes and bike racks. Introduce incentives such as transit pass discounts.
- Introduce a parking permit program.
- Time–limited parking can be introduced. Implement paid parking programs that can be adjusted during the day in relation to demand.
- Additional parking revenue should be reinvested in bicycle and walking infrastructure.
- It is recommended that each household be offered a limited supply of parking permits.
- Supply strategies also include placement of bike parking.
Current Parking Downtown:
According to the 2017 Downtown Parking Study there are a total of 8,061 parking spaces downtown. 5050 are private and 2,501 are public. 1,915 are on street public and 586 are in parking lots and garages. Parking in the downtown core reaches peak utilization between 12pm and 2pm, with 90% to 110% public parking occupancy and 60% to 70% private parking occupancy.
On Market Night, parking between 6pm and 9pm can exceed 100% of public parking. Private lots can be occupied 95% at this time. Older historic buildings have a difficult time meeting parking standards. Historic buildings surrounding the Depot and along east side of Orange and west of Fifth between the railroad tracks and north of Redlands Blvd are exempt from having to provide parking.
As new development occurs and parking needs increase, it will be necessary to introduce time limits and paid parking. As existing parking lots are built on, there will be a need for parking structures. The strategy downtown will be based on “Park Once.” This reduces needed parking, reduces vehicle emissions, consolidates parking supply and improves the pedestrian environment.
Manage parking with:
- Introduce valet parking, where there are valet stands so users can drop off their cars.
- Time limits.
- Pay for parking program.
- Parking revenues should be allocated marketing, lighting, bicycle facilities.
- Alternative transportation like bicycles, buses.
Parking revenues can be used for services such as transit pass offerings, bike programs, car–sharing programs.
Increase parking supply with parking structures. Funding sources include a Downtown Parking Fund, Business License Fees, Community Facilities District, Enhanced Infrastructure Financing and in–lieu parking fees and paid parking. Allow new residential development to sell dwellings separate from on-site parking. Expand shared parking to all downtown parking resources.
A key feature of the plan is parking garages to support “Park Once.” The number of garages needed and exact size will need to be determined in the future.
- Stuart Ave Garage between Third and Eureka (near train station) would have 367 spaces—200 dedicated to rail patrons and 167 for nearby stores. It would have covered bike parking.
- Redlands Mall Garage located on Redlands Blvd (across from Sizzler) will be paid for by developers. The city can either require the developers to make the garage available to the public or the city can lease the spaces and make them available for public parking. This garage would have anywhere from 200–400 spaces depending on how many stories it is.
- Ed Hales Garage located on the existing city owned lot on Redlands Blvd, would have 160 spaces, and be built in the mid to long term program.
- Seventh St Garage would be built in the long term and could have 200–400 spaces.
These locations were selected after careful consideration of land availability, access and egress and convenience to the rail station and State St corridor. Public parking will not be provided at the ESRI station. However, curb space for “kiss and ride,” taxis, and transit network companies such as Uber and Lyft will be accommodated along Redlands Blvd.
This section sets standards to ensure on–site parking is accommodated and designed in a manner with the city’s goals for generating a multi–modal, pedestrian public realm.
Parking management strategies:
- Locate public parking around the periphery.
- Employ strategies to reduce both the number of parking spaces and vehicle trips.
- Design parking to meet urban design goals and minimize impact to pedestrians and bicyclists.
- Reduce the amount of area in the Transit Villages Area (TVA) occupied by parking.
- Meet minimum parking requirements via shared parking, payment of in–lieu fees, joint parking, off site parking within 10 minutes of destination.
- Design parking structures so they can be adapted if they become obsolete for parking.
Reduction to Parking Requirements: The required parking for a use shall be the combined total for all applicable uses listed except if a parking reduction for shared parking is granted. Joint–use parking and shared parking agreements may be approved. The Planning Commission may also grant a reduction in the amount of required parking when a mixed–use development or institution provides carpool spaces, public transit incentives, flex–car sharing programs, secure bicycle parking with shower and clothing lockers.
Enhance pedestrian and bicycle access to the ESRI Station and campus with bicycle lanes and bike and scooter parking.
The University Station parking will be along University St and on site. Parking management strategies will be required and eventually a “Park Once” garage will be built along the south side of Sylvan Blvd. To reduce parking demand, implement bicycle facilities into the station. Adjust bus transit to stop closer to the station.
CHAPTER 7: PUBLIC REALM OF OPEN SPACE
This chapter describes parks, plazas, green belts, pedestrian–friendly tree–lined streets, and has extensive landscape programs for the downtown. Example: A continuous greenbelt of parks and greenways connecting Texas to Eureka that will provide open space and recreational opportunities for employees of ESRI and for future Midtown residents . . .
The Specific Plan tree list will incorporate trees from the City of Redlands Street Tree and Protection Guideline Manual of 2013.
CHAPTER 8: INFRASTRUCTURE
This chapter discusses existing and proposed distribution of utilities (water, waste water, gas, electricity, phone). As the zoning becomes more dense to accommodate the transit villages, upgrades to the utility network will be necessary to support the growth in a sustainable manner.
- In order to provide reliable fire suppression water mains need to be upgraded in size.
- Sewer mains must be upgraded to avoid pinch–points due to intensive development.
- Redlands currently serves 24,000 potable water customers. It is estimated that during dry years, demands can increase to 18.4% and supplies can decrease 10.3%. Studies show that the city can meet dry year demands.
- The water system consists of a variety of piping. The riveted steel pipe, welded steel pipe, standard steel pipe and PVC must be replaced.
- City master plans recommend water main improvements. Water main segments in Colton Ave, Orange St, Redlands Blvd, Church St, Stuart Ave, Oriental Ave, Ninth St, University St, and Park Ave need to be replaced.
- Sewer system improvements: University St, Citrus Ave, and State St need additions or replacement. The 1986 Wastewater System Master Plan needs updating.
Flood waters & drainage:
The TVSP area has historical flooding issues. FEMA dictates that all occupiable finished floors must be 2 feet above the flood plain. These conditions create significant challenges to new development. Solutions have been investigated and proposed like detention basins and a downtown “bypass” structure.
CHAPTER 9: IMPLEMENTATION AND ADMINISTRATION
This section gives a framework for implementation of the TVSP which will help realize these station area recommendations:
- Completion of flood control measures is central to the to realization of the TVSP with the majority of the properties within the 100–year floodplain, and development will be limited until the flood control infrastructure is complete. Financing for this can come from partnerships with landowners. These partnerships could be in–kind contributions or through Community Facilities District or Impact Fee.
- Parking, while a necessity, is a significant burden on development costs. The downtown parking strategies may not be realized in the early phases of the plan. Paid parking would be a solution to building parking garages. The Stuart Ave parking garage will require up–front bonding from the city or a public–private partnership.
- To fund parks and open spaces, consider using Enhanced Infrastructure Financing District, Mello-Roos Community Facilities District, Quimby Fees, new developer impact fees (alternatively fees may be waved in exchange for developer–led capital improvements), explore community benefits program which private investment can directed towards in exchange for more generous development standards, or consider establishment of a BID or TID in downtown to maintain open space.
- Consider an incremental approach to transit improvements (new sidewalks, street redesigns, street tree planting) to allow use of non–general plan sources of financing like tax–increment financing, impact fees, public–private partnerships, community facility district funds.
- Collaborate with car share, bike share and emerging mobility providers to locate stations for care share, multiple bike parking or for motorized scooters.
- Developers can be incentivized in the TVSP area by: Building intensity minimums to encourage higher density.
- Affordable Housing Incentives: Encourage State of California Density Bonus. Developers could be awarded with up to 35% increase in project density, an inclusionary housing policy to encourage affordable housing. Pursue new sources of funding for affordable housing like a “linkage fee” on new commercial developers, explore a community benefits program, coordinate with the County of San Bernardino to attain right of refusal on privately owned tax–delinquent properties to build affordable housing.
Plan Amendment Procedures:
The Transit Villages Specific Plan may be not be amended unless it is consistent with the 2035 General Plan. Specific Plan amendments maybe initiated by the following procedures:
- The planning commission may initiate.
- The city council may initiate a motion.
- The planning department may propose to the planning commission.
- There must be one public hearing.
FRIENDS OF REDLANDS CONCLUSION
FACT: this plan, the Downtown Specific Plan and the 2035 General Plan were all written before the defeat of Measure G.
OPINION: On the surface, the Transit Villages Specific Plan is written to lure the reader into an idealistic world of parks and tree–shaded streets where everyone walks or rides a bike. However, under the surface, there is something very different going on.
These plans are intertwined and dependent on one another for implementation. They are a spider web of regulation telling us how we will live our lives. They are extremely complicated, detailed and we fear will be outlandishly expensive to the taxpayer to implement. The objective is to get people into apartments and discourage the use of cars. Bicycling and walking are the favored mode of transportation at the expense of private vehicles. Parking for private vehicles will be inadequate and instead of being largely free, as it is today, will be fee–based. Public safety in terms of police and fire protection are ignored. There is no mention of our failing sewer treatment plant.
The Environmental Impact Report (EIR) that is currently in process ($400,000), may address some of our concerns.