The Friends of Redlands’ Stop Hi-Rise Initiative has gained enough signatures for a special election this year and a ballot measure in 2022. The registrar of voters still needs to validate the signatures.

The community group started collecting signatures in September and has amassed more than  6,409, according to member Nicole Rinehardt.

The Friends of Redlands’ goal is to restrict building height to three stories in the city. The petition needs 4,272 valid signatures, or 10% of the city’s 42,000 voters, for a ballot measure in 2022. It needs 6,409 or 15% of the city’s voters for a special election this year.

“We need a special election this fall to stop hi-rise projects from being built this year,” said Rinehardt. “If we wait for a general election next year, the Redlands City Council might approve projects before voters get their say.”

Rinehardt said the initiative would limit building heights to 40 feet in the downtown and University of Redlands Transit Villages Areas. It would allow building heights of 52 feet in the New York Street/ESRI Transit Villages Area.

The initiative would also prevent buildings taller than two stories next to single-story homes without the consent of the owner of the single-story home, increase parking requirements and replace a four-fifths council vote enabling density exceptions with a unanimous vote.

Rinehardt said the Friends of Redlands originally formed during Measure G.

“We are an offshoot of that group,” she said. “We are bipartisan, concerned citizens looking at maintaining Redlands’ heritage.”

Rinehardt said the group has concerns with Village Partners Ventures’ proposed plan for the Redlands Mall.

 “The reason for this petition is to let the voters decide on the magnitude of city development,” said Rinehardt.

“Our group isn’t against development. That is a misconception. We want residents to have a chance to vote about what they want to see. We want people to have a voice. And we want to have something that fits more with our heritage. We want a responsible scale, and right now, it’s not to scale with the downtown area. We don’t want to have a cluster of buildings.

“Everyone comes to the table with a different definition of what a high-rise building is,” continued Rinehardt. “California defines a high-rise as 75 feet tall. The City Bank downtown is 85 feet tall. We would like to have a cap on three stories in that area.”

The deadline for the Friends of Redlands to turn in their petition to the city clerk is June 8. They are still looking for more signatures.

“We have no idea how many signatures could be invalidated,” Rinehardt said. “We must build the signature buffer to ensure success.”