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Redlands mayor works to dispel fears over transit village development

On Thursday, May 23, Mayor Paul Foster shared some of the history that is leading up to a proposed ballot measure on development regulations for the areas along the upcoming rail lines , what he thinks the measure will encompass, and what it would do for the city if passed. He also worked to dispel some common fears he said he has heard from residents on the issue.
The City Council will likely take up the issue at its June 4 meeting as the officials must notify the San Bernardino County Registrar of Voters by August if they want to get it on the 2020 primary ballot.
At the town hall hosted by the East Valley Association of Realtors, Foster said the story starts with the voters passing Measures U and N, and Proposition R, decades ago that, among other things, limited the number of housing units built per year, and the acreage-based density of developments.
An unintended consequence of these, he said, is it sent the message that Redlands is “basically a no-growth community that wan’t interested in anybody coming behind our protective little gates.”
“That hurt us a great deal,” he added. Surrounding communities with pro-growth attitudes were in a better position as the Great Recession hit around 2007.
As for the worry about sprawl, he said, there’s not much more land to develop in Redlands.
The city’s general plan, which was adopted last June, goes through 2035, “which is probably when we’ll reach build out roughly as a community,” he said, adding all the land that is zoned for residential development would only provide about 2,000 more houses.
He also aimed to dispel worries about displacing current residents of the proposed Transit Village areas.
“Wherever there’s existing housing or existing businesses, there’s no proposal to go in and tear any of that down,” Foster said.
People moving to the area are looking for a vibrant, walkable, urban downtown with hospitality and entertainment, and that’s the future the city wants to provide.
Three projects in the planning stages that could contribute to this vibrant scene are dependent on changes to the slow-growth model, Foster said.


Related links

Redlands’ Transit Villages plan wants to keep building heights in check through zones
Sustainability vs. small-town feel: Choices ahead for Redlands
Redlands voters may get to decide on six-story buildings, high-density housing proposal



The projects would redevelop property that was the McEwen’s Furniture on Redlands Boulevard, the Redlands Mall and the city’s old safety hall .
As retail fades in the Amazon age, projects like these that will being in hospitality, restaurants and higher density housing will help save downtown, Foster said. Having a community that lives downtown will be better than relying on people to come in.
Foster’s suggestion for a simple ballot measure is to just exempt the transit villages from the old development restrictions, and leave those restrictions in place for the rest of the city.
It’s up to the city to craft the best ballot measure it can, and it’s up to the voters to choose which direction they want to see the city take, he said.

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