Merry Smith

Re: “Mall plans to go before joint committee,” April 15.

Regarding your article of 4/14 pertaining to plans for the mall property, it was a fair recap of the hearing. It appears the City Council and Planning Commission have become promoters of the State Street Village proposal for the mall. Resident participants in the hearings want the mall property developed but there are sticking points that they acknowledge. They said that the proposed architectural design did not fit the theme of downtown. The issue of parking was also a concern. There was agreement that the redevelopment of the mall will “have a major impact on the city for decades to come” and the project “must be done right.”

However, what was missing from the conversation was any reference to the impact of the defeat of Measure G by 65% of Redlands voters. If it had passed, the City Council would have been given total control over the development in the downtown area with no limit on building heights, residential density, or overall magnitude of the project. The voters overwhelmingly rejected this overreach because they did not want tall buildings and more congestion in the downtown. The Citizen’s Growth Initiative petition, that was endorsed by 7700 Redlands voters, also rejected the intent of Measure G. It is clear that most voters in Redlands do not want a massive development in the core of their city.

Also missing is the fact that currently there is no height limit downtown and that the mall proposal shows a building 75’ tall (for reference 300 State St. is 85’ tall). State Street Partners is telling us that the mall proposal will only have 4 story buildings. City Planning says that a 4 story building is 55” plus additions like an elevator tower, penthouse, steeple, water tower, etc. Four story is a “smoke screen” for a building 65’ tall or as the proposal states 75’.

During the hearing and response period there was no mention of the substantial increase in population downtown with 700 new apartments at the mall site and an estimated 350 more apartments planned for the sites of the old Safety Hall and the corner of Eureka and Redlands Blvd. These apartments could easily add 3000 people and 1500 more vehicles within a city block radius of Citrus and Eureka. And, what about considering the increase in delivery and service vehicles contributing to the congestion.

There was no discussion as to who will pay for the required infrastructure like water and sewer mains, sidewalks, street paving or if the “Zanja” running under the mall property will need to be modified and if so, who will pay for this? Then there is the question of the ongoing future cost to the taxpayer of additional public safety services, such as police and fire, to service the increase in population. Also, what about the impact on the schools with the increase in population?

Our comments make it sound like Friends of Redlands is against development. We are not. What we are against is out of control growth in Redlands historical downtown. It is only fair that Redlanders are truthfully informed and get answers to all the critical issues surrounding this project before it is approved because it “must be done right” for the future of Redlands.

Merry Smith, Friends of Redlands