By Amanda Frye
The Redlands Historic and Scenic Preservation Commission on February 21 gave clearance to Redlands Community Hospital to destroy a historic 1902 home with the caveat that it be kept in place for 90 days, during which time an attempt to find a party interested in moving the house is to made.
To provide time and an opportunity for moving the home rather than engaging in its wholesale destruction, the commission has delayed the effective date for razing the structure by 90 days, according to the permit issued for its demolition. The hospital’s representative, Jon Roberts, indicated that anyone could have the house for free, but he gave indication that the hospital would not comply in entirety with the conditions of the document issued by the city, Demolition Permit #235, in that the hospital was not going to actively look for anyone to move the house as was required by the commission in the stipulation for the demolition permit.
Redlands continues to allow historic properties to be demolished despite the municipality being listed as a U.S. Department of Interior and California Office of Historic Preservation “Certified Local Government.” A certified local government is required to preserve local history and protect historic properties as required by federal, state and local laws. Recently, the historic Crystal Springs property historic structures including an early stage coach stop ticket booth was demolished with no apparent reprimand by the city of Redlands. A code enforcement staff report failed to acknowledge the Crystal Springs property’s historic past despite extensive historic documentation at the state and local levels. The city’s federally funded historic preservation commitment was codified by Redlands Resolution 7782 to preserve historic properties in 2017. The most recent action by the city of Redlands calls into question the commitment to historic property preservation and possible violation of federal, state and local laws required of a Certified Local Government, a circumstance which local historical preservationists have asserted points to city staff incompetence or willful ignorance on the part of the city’s elected officials or graft by which landowners intent on destroying historic properties have purchased a suspension of the city’s enforcement authority.
The historic house located at 1721 West Fern avenue is a 1902 historic house that was moved from its original location at 1058 Terracina by Redlands Community Hospital in 1963 as a way to protect the house’s historic status from hospital expansion. Recent realtor photographs of the house show a historic house in excellent move-in ready condition. Now the current hospital administration has used a shell company to purchase the historic house in order to destroy it with no plans formally submitted to the city for the property.
The historic and scenic commission discussed plans for a parking lot at the location, but the Redlands staff said no plans were submitted. The property is not included in Development Agreement No. 16 between the City of Redlands and Redlands Community Hospital. So now the question is why is the non-profit hospital, which is supposed to be giving to the community, is so eager to destroy such splendid relics of the city’s rich history.
The California Secretary of State lists Redlands Calimesa 1 LLC, RHS Corporation and Redlands Community Hospital and several other corporations such as Redlands Community Hospital Foundation as located at the Redlands Community Hospital address of 350 Terracina Blvd. The hospital CEO, James Holmes, appears to be controlling the entities his chief executive capacity. According to 2016 Internal Revenue Service 990 Forms, Redlands Community Hospital CEO Holmes was awarded a total compensation package of $898,106 in 2016, which includes the multiple LLCs and Corporation that Mr. Holmes runs or is part of at the hospital address. Back of the envelope math puts Mr. Holmes hourly compensation, listed as a 40 hour work week, at $431.78 per hour. According to the tax filings, Mr. Holmes salary was determined by a “private consultant,” which all should have been approved by the local board of directors. The 220-bed facility is a considered a medium size non-profit community hospital.
The Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics lists healthcare CEOs as making an average salary of $112,900 with a median hourly wage of $54.28 which is far below Redlands Community Hospital CEO’s near-million dollar compensation. In 2017, the Bureau of Labor Statistics gives the average CEO salaries in the Southern California Metro areas of Los Angeles and Orange County between $234,660-$241,710 or hourly wage between $112.82-$116.21, the extremes of which are still far below Mr. Holmes 2016 non-profit corporation compensation. Other top Redlands Community Hospital officials are drawing compensation around $500,000.
Records indicate that in October 2018, the historic house was purchased by Redlands Community Hospital shell company Redlands Calimesa 1 LLC. The LLC representative, Jon Roberts, and city staff Loralee Ferris, confirmed the demolition permit was in reality for Redlands Community Hospital. After the meeting, Roberts said he wasn’t going to look for someone to move the house even though the Historic and Scenic commission made this a condition of approval for the demolition permit. Several years ago the Redlands Historic and Scenic Commission also made moving a historic house near the Redlands YMCA a condition of approval, yet the YMCA ignored the conditions and silently tore down another historic house, leaving a weedy lot in its place. The City of Redlands ignored violations of the historic property conditional demolition permit.
Anyone interested in a free historic house can contact Redlands Community Hospital, the city of Redlands or Redlands Calimesa 1 LLC representative Jon Roberts (909) 380-2180. Since the hospital has not submitted plans for the property, it seems its current officers want to destroy a piece of Redlands history that they, or their predecessors, once went to great effort to save.