Redlands Solons Using Parking Enforcement To Clear Downtown For Future Skyscrapers

The gulf between the city of Redlands’ elected officials, who are celebrated as forward-looking futurists, and the most vocal and effective of that city’s politically active residents, who pride themselves on their traditionalism, has long been apparent.
Time and again the action of City Hall has sought to break or overcome that resident resolve but never succeeded, though, curiously, anti-traditionalists manage to get elected to the city council in Redlands.
Since the beginning of the month, yet another issue has been raised by city officials, one impacting not just the city’s residents but its downtown business community, which is threatening to move a major portion of the city’s business community, which has previously steered clear of the struggle between the traditionalists and the futurists, into the traditionalists’ camp.
One report has it that senior Redlands officials are using parking enforcement downtown in an effort to clear the city of its quaint but aging mercantile district to make way for a forest of highrises.
Incorporated in 1888, the third San Bernardino County to become a municipality, Redlands was founded by a group of wealthy investors from Chicago, who became known as the Chicago Colony, on land that was previously sparsely developed for agricultural use. The city attracted affluent Easterners wanting winter homes in the region and became what was arguably the grandest residential/agricultural/resort venue in Southern California at that time, and through subsequent generations its residents built on and enhanced that status. By the late mid-20th Century, a core of sophisticated and energetic city residents were acutely conscious of the city’s rich heritage and assets and, looking at the unbridled development occurring in many areas within Southern California, undertook efforts to head off the wall-to-wall urbanization of their city. This vanguard – traditionalists who were in place as many as three and four generations ago, worked together to codify protections against the urbanization that was consuming most of the surrounding communities. Using the initiative process, they bypassed their elected pro-development city council, authoring among themselves ordinances to be placed into the city code, then obtained the needed signatures to qualify them for the citywide ballot and then convinced a majority of the city’s voters to pass them. This was done with Proposition R in 1978, Measure N in 1987 and Measure U in 1997, all of which were intended to reduce growth to manageable levels.
1978’s Proposition R in relevant part provided that no more than 450 residential dwelling units could be developed within the city in any single year.
1987’s Measure N amended Proposition “R” to reduce the number of residential dwelling units could be developed within the city in any one calendar year to 400 and extended the issue of controlling the growth rate by further setting standards for development and making requirements that for citrus groves to be developed a portion of that agricultural land had to be maintained as undeveloped open space. It put into place limitations on how much density could be created with any particular development.
1997’s Measure U enacted several further principles of managed development within Redlands, requiring a four-fifths vote of the council for projects that exceed two stories in height, disallowing any project that exceeded 27 units to the acre, requiring a four-fifths vote of the council for any project exceeding 18 dwelling units per acre and imposing a myriad of requirements on the city and developers with regard to assessing what that development was to entail requiring that conditions be imposed on that growth to offset the impacts that development would have on the quality of life of those already living in Redlands or who would live there in the future.
In combination with Measure U, the city created a mechanism by which 100 acres of citrus came under city ownership.”
Today, Redlands contains more of the vestiges of the verdant citrus-growing empire that the region once was than any of the other cities in San Bernardino or Riverside counties.
As has long been the case, however, with the diminishing profitability of farming, the increase in the value of property adapted for residential, commercial and industrial use, the aging or eventual demise of those who once operated large swaths of property in Redlands for agricultural production, succeeding generations of heirs to that property no longer interested in farming and/or the acquisition of those properties by real estate speculators or developers, city officials – in particular the city council members who possess the ultimate land use decision-making authority – view the further maturation of Redlands as an urban entity in a far more positive light than do its residents who are motivated to preserving its late 19th Century/early 20th Century character. At virtually every turn, city officials – both elected and the municipal management professionals they have hired to run the city on a day-to-day basis – have militated to cast off the development restrictions that have been put in place in order to accommodate the “more modern” concepts of massive residential and commercial subdivisions being built throughout the city and displacing the city’s agricultural zones together with an urban core featuring skyscrapers. Their intent is to transform, by the latter 21st Century, what is today San Bernardino County’s 12th most populous city at 74,441 residents, into what will be its first, second-, or third- largest, with upwards of 300,000 living within its 36.13 square miles.
City officials have made multiple attempts to get around those restrictions imposed by its residents and their intent to preserve both the quality of life and the slower pace of existence Redlands has traditionally offered.
One of those efforts was the introduction of the Transit Villages Concept, which tapped into a trend in urban planning in recent years which emphasizes the need to facilitate heavier use of public transportation, including commuter rail systems.
In Redlands, the transit villages plan calls for high density residential uses in multi-story structures to be built within walking distance of train stations located near Redlands University, Downtown Redlands and in the New York Avenue, Alabama Street and California Street districts. Those projects involve constructing highrises will entail as many as 100 units per acre. Thus, city officials indicated they were ready to embrace having clusters of high-rise apartment buildings in what was envisioned as five densely packed neighborhoods throughout the city where previously commercial development or far lower density housing existed. This flew in the face of not just the quality-of-life values embodied in Proposition R, Measure N and Measure U, but the restrictions contained therein, as well. At first, Redlands officials tried to fashion some bureaucratic, procedural, land use regulation or by-council-fiat workarounds, but were unable to do so, given the vigilance of the city’s traditionalists.
A next effort was formulated in 2019, when the city council used its authority to to place on the March 2020 ballot Measure G, an initiative that was intended to free the council and City Hall generally from the limitations on development inherent in past measures approved by voters in Redlands. Measure G asked the city’s residents to eliminate, in one fell swoop, the restrictions of Proposition R, Measure N and Measure U. Measure G asked the city’s voters 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. Moreover, Measure G would have eliminated the requirement that a four-fifths vote of the city council is needed to approve residential densities exceeding 18 dwelling units per acre, would have eliminated the requirement that a four-fifths vote of the city council is needed to approve residential buildings exceeding two stories or 35 feet in height, would have eliminated the requirement that the voters of the city rather than the city council be solely authorized to establish any new land use designations in the city, would have eliminated the requirement that certain residential subdivision projects be subject to competitive review for issuance of building permits, would have eliminated the requirement that the developers of new projects pay 100 percent of the development impact fees that are imposed on those projects and would have permanently exempted residential dwelling units constructed within Redlands’ Transit Village Planning Area from the 400 dwelling unit per year limitation.
The city’s voters in March 2020 soundly rejected Measure G, with 9,321 votes or 64.88 percent opposing it and 5,052 votes or 35.12 percent in favor of it.
Undaunted, the city council and city staff continued to accommodate developers in their submission of projects which sought density levels substantially greater than what has been the standard in Redlands since its 1888 founding as a municipality.
In 2022, city officials once more took a stab at getting the city’s residents to suspend key elements of the city’s low growth initiatives when it persuaded the late former Mayor Bill Cunningham, perhaps the most committed controlled-growth advocate in city history, to alter an initiative he had qualified for that year’s ballot – Measure F – from its original form in a way that would have allowed the city to procced with the first major phase of its Transit Villages Plan.
In 2021, the then-95-year-old Cunningham had authored and with the assistance of other controlled-growth enthusiasts qualified for the ballot an initiative calling for a height limitation of 50 feet – essentially three stories or less – on structures to be built in the area around the University of Redlands and Downtown Redlands and no more than 62 feet – tantamount to no more than four stories – in the New York Street district.
Officials with the University of Redlands, in particular, were intent on being able to build dormitories to house more students as well as to rent or lease housing at a profit to nonstudents to shore up the university’s dwindling revenue. University officials, along with city officials, brought to bear all the leverage they possessed in the discussion with Cunningham, including that Cunningham had once taught at the university. As the author and official sponsor of what had been designated as Measure F for the November 2022 ballot, Cunningham had the authority to pull the measure or alter its terms. Would he consider, university and city officials holding those discussions with him asked, allowing a slightly higher height limitation on the buildings near the university train station? Cunningham balked at that request, but then city officials sought to persuade him by offering, if he were to accept the four-story university limitation, to include a provision that would prevent any alteration of the agricultural zoning in the city’s south end without a prior vote of the city’s residents. As that accomplished a goal Cunningham had long sought, he agreed. Thereby, Measure F was reconstituted to call for limiting building heights near the downtown train stations and buildings more than a quarter-mile from the university station to three stories and 43 feet. It called for limiting buildings within a quarter-mile of the university station and near the planned stations on Alabama Street, California Street and in the New York Street district to four stories and 68 feet. It called for removing the city’s development fee policy from any development near the university station, which was instead to be government funded and/or subsidized. It called for prohibiting buildings more than two stories tall from being built near single-family residences, with specified exceptions. It called for requiring approval by voters before certain agricultural land in San Timoteo Canyon can be rezoned.
When Cunningham agreed to those alterations to Measure F, the city used its authority to place it onto the November 8, 2022 ballot, large numbers of the city residents who had assisted him in getting the original version of Measure F onto the ballot objected, believing the concession of allowing buildings in the university district to reach four stories to be an unacceptable sell out. They revolted when the matter came to a vote on November 8, 2022 and Measure F was defeated by an overwhelming margin, with 8,504 or 38.19 percent of the 22,267 voters participating in the election in favor of it and 13,763 or 61.81 percent opposed.
In August 2022, banking on the passage of Measure, the Redlands Planning Commission unanimously approved two four-story projects in the downtown area, both proposed by by Vantage One Real Estate Investments, LLC. One entailed a single four-story 145-unit apartment building on 1.49 acres, “The Grand” on the grounds formerly occupied by an approximately 40,000-square foot retail furniture store constructed in 1975 at the northeast corner of Redlands Boulevard and Eureka Street. The second, the“City Center Project,” located two blocks south from The Grand Project, at 212 and 216 Brookside Avenue, entailed the consolidation of 17 parcels totaling 3.01 acres at the northwest corner of Eureka Street and Brookside Avenue where the city’s safety hall and police station, city council chamber, a San Bernardino County courthouse, and two single-family residences were located. It called for four buildings, including a four-story apartment structure with 131 units.
The approval of that project stood at the time and remains a provocation of the traditionalists in the city.
The latest effort by the pro-development Redlands City Council to counteract or otherwise neutralize the efforts of the city’s well-organized and energetic group of city residents intent on controlling the intensity of growth in Redlands and clear the way for a radical transformation of the city over the next several decades now appears to be focused on dislodging the entrepreneurs in the city’s quaint downtown district, which has as its epicenter State Street running between Orange Street and 7th Street. Being hatched, according to individuals ensconced deep within City Hall, is a scheme by which the city is to rid itself of the historic buildings in the downtown area – ones that are between 80 and 120 years old, and replace them with highrises. This is to include, the lion’s share of the structures along Orange Street south of the 10 Freeway on the east side, the buildings along both sides of State Street running east from Orange to 7th Street, the buildings along the north side of Citrus Avenue from Orange Street/Cajon Avenue to 6th Street and the buildings along the east side of Cajon from Vine Street to Olive Street with the exception of the Methodist Church. City officials are anxious to see these buildings go, one well-placed source says, because of the seismic instability as well as what the council deems to be the age and appearance of the structures in question, extending to those that house Sosugu Ramen & BBQ, Landeros Furniture, Aoi Mak Mak, the Flamingo, Romano’s Italian Restaurant, The Three Stags Pub, Greensleeves Steakhouse, Jersey’s Pizza, Baelash Esthetics, the Tartan, Parliament Chocolate, Kluddes Kitchen, the Royal Falconer, Darby’s Cantina Moon and Mirror Hair Studio, Rok n Fondue, Leroy’s Boardshop, Emerson Jewelry, The Treatment Skin Boutique, Gardenia Aesthetics & Wellness, Pacific Premier Bank, State Street Dental, the Redlands Art Association, McDuff’s, State Street Pilates, the Village Candy Kitchen, Mina Koshari, Nicho’s Ice Cream, The Mane Collective, Pacific Western Bank, Wells Fargo Bank, The Gourmet Pizza Shoppe, Hair By Diona, Salon Motif, Melt’m Jewelry, The Frugal Frigate, Brookside Dental, Caprice Cafe, Wok In Cafe, The State, For Good, Redlands Oyster Cult, Nectar Clothing, Ozel Jewelers, Redlands Jewelers, Crepes of Wrath, The District, The Redlands Underground Restaurant, Batter Rebellion, Cheesewalla, A Shop Called Quest, the Vault, Bricks & Birch, the Rose of Sharon, Wilson’s Classic Barber Shop and Cajon Cleaners, among other shops and businesses.
Furthermore, it is reported city officials have reached a consensus about the desirability of razing City Hall/the civic center and will ultimately take out Ed Hales Square to assemble a large T-shaped piece of real estate that is to be marketed to a developmental interest with the proviso that it will be developed into a project to rival or exceed the seven-story structure being contemplated in Upland just north of the 210 Freeway by developer Jeff Burum. This would entail, at the least, a structure that would in places be seven stories and would potentially extend to eight, nine, ten or even 11 stories or perhaps more.
To convince the owners of the land in question to sell their property, the city has three options, it was related to the Sentinel. One approach would be to let the project evolve organically, with the developer seeking to assemble the land on his own. The second would be to use eminent domain to force the sale of the property. The third is the course now being taken, which is to conduct a rather draconian parking enforcement program in the downtown area that will make it so that customers cannot possibly hope to engage in normal shopping or dining activity without being subject to a parking ticket, which is to run to well over $150, including tacked on city and court fees. With customers unable to enjoy a meal at restaurants, or shop at a store for more than either 15 minutes or 30 minutes before having to head out to repark their vehicles or put more quarters into parking meters, it is said that it is the hope and expectation of Mayor Eddie Tejeda and that of City Councilman Paul Barich, City Councilman Mario Salceda, Coucilwoman Denise Davis and Councilwoman Jenna Guzman-Lowery that patrons of the businesses in question will simply get the message and not shop or dine at those establishments, rendering them unprofitable and causing them to close. This will, in turn, result in the cancellation of the leases for the properties in question, such that by 2026 or 2027, the developer the city is gravitating toward can swoop in and pick up the land at less than 50 cents on the dollar and proceed with the high-rise development scheme envisioned for the city by its controlling futurists.
An indicator, indeed what was referred to as “proof” that this plan is now under way is the manner in which the city is proceeding with the downtown parking enforcement plan within the temporal context of city officials having, in the Fall of 2022, convinced the police department to go along with a plan to increase speed limits throughout the city. It is pointed out that just 18 months ago the city council, city administration and the police department were willing to increase the speed limits when residents were asking for reductions in speed limits, thus putting motorists and pedestrians at greater risk, while the mayor, city council and City Manager Charles Duggan were claiming stepped-up traffic enforcement was beyond the financial means of the police department and the city. That claim of impoverishment is contrasted with the paradox of city officials now saying the city has the resources to engage in intensified parking enforcement in the downtown area. This throws into stark relief the city’s actual intention, according to the knowledgeable City Hall source, which is to raze the aging buildings in the downtown area and replace them with highrises. The city’s readiness to intensify the land use in the downtown area is an indication of the influence of the development/building industry and real estate speculators, who stand to profit by such accelerated growth, have over the city council, it was observed.

On March 28, the Sentinel sent an email to Mayor Eddie Tejeda, electronically carbon copying that missive to all of the other members of the city council as well as City Manager Duggan inquiring about the intensified parking enforcement the city was to initate on April 1. Since that time, patrons of the downtown area have made note of the stepped-up citation and enforcement effort.
The Sentinel email failed to induce a response from the mayor, council or city manager, who offered no input on why some residents and others have come to perceive that ythe city is seeking to get take the city’s historic commercial district buildings down.
Mayor Tejeda did not respond to a direct inquiry as to whether the council and city are about to engage in a massive urban renewal project in Downtown Redlands, which developer the city is gravitating toward in pursuing such an effort and what the actual purpose of the stepped-up parking enforcement in the downtown area is.
The Sentinel asked the mayor if the city had concerns about the seismic stability of the structures in city’s core and if such a concern was fueling a move to get rid of those buildings. Mayor Tejeda was asked to share whether he believed that high-rise construction in central urban areas, as in Redlands, is the wave of the future.
The Sentinel asked Tejeda point blank if he and his council colleagues are trying to put the current crop of entrepreneurs in and around State Street/Orange Street/Cajon Street out of business and, if so, whether he felt the city bore any responsibility toward the businesses that were being targeted in that way or if he merely saw them as necessary casualties in the march of progress that Redlands must engage in.
With regard to the enforcement effort, the Sentinel asked the mayor how it is that the city cannot afford to carry out stepped up traffic enforcement but can afford more intensive parking enforcement. The Sentinel inquired if the mayor and the city perceived possible money-making potential in increasing parking enforcement and, if so, whether he believed the new parking enforcement policy will net the city more than it costs to conduct.
While Mayor Tejeda did not respond to the Sentinel’s inquiries, the city’s spokesman, Carl Baker, made a selective response to questions posed to him in an email sent on April 10 revisiting the issues of downtown parking enforcement, the reported effort to close out the the downtown businesses as part of a strategy to clear the city’s core to accommodate far more aggressive construction there and seeking, either from him an official response from the city with regard to those issues or to have him intercede with the mayor to make such a response.
The Sentinel asked Baker if reports that city officials have come to a consensus that creating a humongous transit village downtown, displacing virtually everything, or at least a lot of what is, there now is a goal worth pursuing is accurate.
The Sentinel also asked Baker if the city is intent on pursuing highrise development in the downtown district whether it will make adequate preparation for that intensity of land use by creating extensive – meaning four to five to six level – underground parking facilities in the downtown area. The Sentinel asked how city officials expected to be able to accommodate the vehicles of the people to be residing in or patronizing the highrises without parking facilities of at least four levels underground and whether, in Baker’s view, the city should be encouraging or, indeed requiring, prospective developers who are to build downtown to construct such deep underground parking facilities. The Sentinel asked for a cogent refutation of suggestions by some that the refusal or unwillingness of the Redlands City Fathers to require such infrastructure support construction from the building interests intent on converting the downtown area is an indicator that those development interests are improperly influencing city officials at the highest level. The Sentinel inquired if the city was delaying the construction of the deep underground parking facilities until after the current businesses are defunct or if the city has no intent to construct deep underground parking facilities at all.
In 2022, a 385-space multi-level above-ground parking structure on Stuart Avenue between Orange and Eureka streets that had been constructed over the previous year was opened to the public.
According to Baker, the stepped-up parking enforcement in the downtown district is not intended at all to harm the businesses currently located there but rather to have the opposite effect.
“Parking enforcement downtown – which had been suspended in 2020 due to Covid – was reinstated as part of the city’s effort to boost the business community by making parking downtown more available for customers while discouraging employees from using short-term parking areas,” Baker told the Sentinel. “It has the full support and recommendation of the Chamber of Commerce.”
As pertains to the general impression among residents and reports to the effect that city officials are working toward driving all of the shops, eateries and public houses in the downtown area operating out of buildings that have been in existence for approaching or exceeding a century out of business as a means of clearing those properties to all that land to be redeveloped into modern highrises, Baker called such spiels to be prevarications of the lowest sort, what he characterized as “speculation… too ridiculous to merit a response.”

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