Friends of Redlands has been studying the city’s General Plan Downtown Specific Plan and the Transit Villages Specific Plan Draft. The Transit Villages Plan for parking is insufficient for the success of downtown.
The Transit Villages Plan says, “Sufficient parking is essential for the success of downtown.” We don’t think the plan provides enough parking, not only for the short term but also in the long term. The plan relies heavily on bicycling and therefore contends that less parking will be needed for automobiles. That begs the question, “How convenient is it for a person to carry a day’s shopping on a bicycle in 100-degree summer heat?”
For decades, parking in historic downtown Redlands has been problematic. It is our opinion that the Transit Villages Plan will make the situation worse. In the plan, the Redlands Mall is to be replaced with apartments and more than the current 900 parking spaces — including the Citrus Avenue parking structure — near downtown will be gone.
During the day, these spaces are used by shoppers, store owners and employees. On weekends and in the evening, these spaces are used by entertainment venues such as the Redlands Bicycle Classic, the Redlands Bowl, commencement and Market Night. Where will these people park?
The plan suggests that a 200- to 400-space parking garage will be built by the developer of the mall property. This will be totally inadequate for this area.
The parking garage near the Santa Fe Station will have 167 spaces allocated for store owners, employees and store patrons. The garage will not be convenient for the Redlands Bowl.
Two other parking structures are planned, 160-space garage next to Ed Hales Park and another on Seventh Street near the railroad tracks. Since the city of Redlands does not have the money, construction of these two garages will depend on public funds such as bonding, parking fees or higher taxes. There is no guarantee that either will ever be built.
What will be the fate of current on-street parking be under the City Council’s Transit Village Plan? The plan states that “parking management strategies” will be used. For example, “riding the Arrow commuter train, as well as biking and using Omnitrans will reduce the number of spaces needed.”
Bus loading zones are to be integrated into existing street parking downtown. Each loading zone will consume a minimum of eight diagonal spaces. The plan states that “time limits combined with prices will encourage turnover” of parking spaces and “as demand for free parking spaces approaches capacity … it is reasonable to implement paid parking spaces.”
These programs could be in the form of in-lieu fees, paid parking programs, valet parking and parking permits. Obviously, the plan will greatly reduce the number of parking spaces available.
The loss of mall parking cannot be made up by the Transit Village Plan parking garages and will not fulfill the plan’s stated objecting of “sufficient parking for the success of downtown.” The current free parking downtown would end up being some form of fee parking.
With the exception of the mall and Arrow parking garages, the others may never be built unless the residents of Redlands are willing to support bond measures, higher taxes and a variety of parking fees.
Friends of Redlands urges Mayor Paul Foster and the City Council to revise the parking component of the Transit Villages Specific Plan to meet the real needs of the city.
Fred H. Dill, an attorney, was a member of the campaign against Measure G, which was defeated by Redlands voters in March. Friends of Redlands is group of the opponents formed after the election to monitor the City Council’s actions.