Redlands City Council Purposed To Confer $19,600 Raise On City Manager Next Week

At its specially rescheduled meeting on Wednesday of next week, the Redlands City Council is set to raise City Manager Charles Duggan’s salary by seven percent from $280,000 to $299,600.
If the council, as anticipated, grants Duggan the raise, he will see his total annual compensation jump from its current $400,650.74, consisting of $280,000 in salary plus perquisites and add-ons of $12,131.92 in addition to $108,518.82 in benefits, to $420,250.74.
In addition, the council, which is going to meet on July 5 next week rather than Tuesday because its normal meeting day of the first Tuesday of the month is preempted by the July 4 holiday, will further sign off on giving Duggan a two percent raise in July 2024, upping the $299,600 he will be receiving at that time to $305,592. It also appears that the city may intend to provide Duggan with a two percent raise from $305,592 to $311,703.84 in July 2025. Because of what is likely a typographical error that substituted “2023” for “2025” on the staff report for the agenda item, that point remains unclear at press time.
Given the degree of apathy with regard to the function of local government that is typically the case throughout Southern California, the vast majority of residents in Redlands do not seem to have an opinion one way or the other with regard to Duggan’s performance since he became city manager in Redlands in January 2020. Nevertheless, among residents of the 36.4-square mile city of 73,168 population who are animated with regard to issues of governance, Duggan is far less popular than he is with the five-member city council. Despite a growingly-pronounced cultural divide on the city council between its three male members – consisting of Mayor Eddie Tejada, Councilman Paul Barich and Councilman Mario Saucedo – and its distaff members – Denise Davis and Jenna Guzman-Lowery – with regard to a number of social issues, the council comes across as united with regard to the matters over which local government in California normally holds authority, that being land use decision-making, municipal finance and the day-to-day operation of the city.
Redlands City Hall for the last decade or more has been supportive of relatively aggressive residential development in various locations around the city, the most notable example being the city’s downtown. Investors and project proponents have sought and obtained clearance to convert properties at the city’s core that for the most part previously existed as commercial uses into multi-story apartment complexes. This has rankled a significant cross-section of Redlands’ most vocal residents.
Over the decades, a multi-generational contingent of Redlands citizens demonstrated themselves to be more committed than any other portion of the San Bernardino County population to the concept of attenuating the tenor of development within their locality, as was demonstrated by the city’s voters’ passage of the controlled-growth or slow-growth Proposition R in 1978, Measure N in 1987 and Measure U in 1997.
A milestone in that cultural war was the pro-development city council’s effort in 2020 to, in one fell swoop, undo generations of bulwarks against overdevelopment that have been built into the city’s mode of governance. Through Measure G, the council three years ago sought to allow developers to construct up to 27 housing units per acre, eliminate height limits on buildings in the city, relieve developers of the requirement that in completing their projects they have to provide infrastructure to maintain traffic-bearing capacity on the city’s streets equal to what was available prior to the development taking place, permit residential land use designations to be placed into the city’s general plan that did not previously exist and abolish the requirement that developers carry out socioeconomic‐cost/benefit studies for the projects they are proposing, among other things. The promotion of Measure G was one of the first major efforts undertaken by Duggan in his role as Redlands city manager.
In March 2020, the city’s residents soundly rejected Measure G, with 9,321 votes or 64.88 percent opposing it and 5,052 or 35.12 percent in favor of it.
Developers and city officials appear undaunted by the intense resident resistance to intensive, high-density development. Duggan has done the city council’s bidding relating to attempting to break the sentiment of the most politically active element of the Redlands population which is so powerfully committed to holding off on aggressive growth.
However, it is not simply with regard to land use decisions where the most vociferous group of Redlands residents have differences with the city’s leadership.
On April 4, 2023 a horrific collision between a MetroLink train and a vehicle that was trapped by the crossing gate on the railroad tracks near the Alabama Street/ Redlands Boulevard intersection resulted in the deaths of a mother and daughter. There is a widespread perception that the city manager who preceded Duggan, Nabar Martinez, had allowed the Alabama Street/Redlands Boulevard intersection along with the railroad crossing to be engineered in such a way that it was unsafe, and that Duggan had failed to recognize the hazard that inadequate planning and engineering represented to the public when he arrived in Redlands to succeed Martinez. According to some Redlands residents, Duggan either lacks the character and leadership skills to speak forthrightly to his political masters on the city council when they embark on a wrongheaded venture within their sphere of authority in the city or he outright does not possess the expertise to recognize the council’s errors altogether.
Last fall, the city council, based upon a recommendation by Duggan and other city staff members, raised the ire of a solid block of those in the community by increasing the speed limit on 45 spans of roadway in the city because a significant number of the drivers were exceeding the previously posted limits in those areas.
Duggan and his staff employees maintained that California law and speed enforcement policy calls upon cities to use a standard of the 85th percentile of the average speed along a given road as the speed limit that is to be posted if those cities are to be able to have the traffic citations issued there validated in court. Cities are required to do a several-day long survey of speeds driven along their streets and roads at least once every seven to eight years. Under a law that has been in effect for decades, along with multiple court interpretations of that law over that period of time, if more than 15 percent of drivers surveyed along a particular stretch of road exceed the posted speed limit by more than ten miles an hour, anyone cited for excessive speed along those roads who cite the survey can have their speeding citations automatically dismissed. To maintain the enforceability of their speed limits, cities will increase the speed limits at those locations.
That is what Redlands did in December. A significant number of Redlands residents, however, asserted that those drivers exceeding the speed limit previously, whether they were cited or not, were endangering other motorists and pedestrians. Those residents objected to the city’s decision. They pleaded with Redlands city officials to keep the speed limits that were in place intact. Some of those opposed to the raising of the speed limit said that increasing the speed limits in the circumscribed areas was tantamount to rewarding those who consistently broke the law.
Those residents and others opposed to the speed increase pointed out that the Redlands Police Department’s traffic enforcement effort was already virtually nonexistent, such that preserving the effectiveness of the citation process in court was a futile endeavor, as very few speeders ended up facing a magistrate anyway. Keeping the lower speed limits in place would more effectively ensure safety, they argued, since most – though not all – drivers use the posted speed limit as a guide as to how fast they should drive.
Despite many Redlands’ residents importuning of the city council to keep the speed limits in place, the council raised the speed limits as mapped out by Redlands Municipal Utilities and Engineering Department Director John Harris based upon a survey summary by City Engineer Goutam Dobey.
As fate would have it, within 36 hours of the city council’s action, a 16-year-old bicyclist was run down by an 89-year-old woman driving a 2012 Ford Escape in the 1400 block of 5th Avenue, near Marion Road, a short distance from Moore Middle School, killing him.
These oversights have caused some in the Redlands community to express the opinion that the city council is not using adequate performance-based criteria in awarding salary increases.
In the recitals for the agreement granting Duggan the raise, it is stated that “Employee [Duggan] has dutifully served as city manager since January 2020” and “it is the desire of [the] city to continue to retain the services of employee as city manager and the desire of the employee to serve in that capacity.” Within the recitals it is further stated “the city council of the City of Redlands has determined that employee has the required executive and administrative qualifications and ability, along with the level of education, experience, skills and expertise to serve as the city manager of the city [and] it is the desire of the city to (1) provide inducement for employee to remain in city’s employment [and] (2) make possible full work productivity by providing employee with assurances regarding his employment.”
-Mark Gutglueck

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