Bill Cunningham

As quoted in this paper on March 13, James Spee, professor of business at the University of Redlands, told us what motivated those who voted against Measure G, and how measures N and U are to blame for our failure to build our state assigned housing units, leaving Redlands “behind its fair share of more than 5,000 homes.” (source not referenced)

  As a fairly active participant in the NO on G campaign and in the development and passage of measures N and U, I thought a comment might be in order.

It needs to be noted that neither N’s nor U’s goal is to stop growth, but to manage it. In the years since the adoption of N in 1987 and U in 1997 Redlands has grown by thousands. The council recently approved a 338-unit apartment project. In no year since the adoption of U has there been more proposals for development than the 400-unit limit set by N and U. According to the state department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) 97.6 percent of California cities did not meet (ignored) their housing allocation, a number with no connection to reality. Redlands was far from alone.

 I am unfamiliar with today’s statistics, but in my years on the school board every new dwelling on average brought eight tenths (0.8) school-age child to the district, or roughly three hundred children needing school housing for every 400 units built or, put another way, the need for a new elementary school every few years, another police officer for about each 400 units (at 1.08 officers/1,000), additional streets, sidewalks, trees to maintain. And the list goes on. That is why U mandated fees for the added cost of services and infrastructure, and the 400 limit in hopes the schools could keep up, and time for newcomers to integrate into our community, become a part of our culture and fabric, Redlanders.

While property taxes compound at 2 percent per annum, inflation has most often compounded at 3 percent. Compare the per capita yield from the typical apartment to that of a single-family home. Several conclusions come clear. Property taxes don’t keep up, and apartment dwellers pay less per capita through their rents than those in single-family homes and on average of lower income produce fewer sales taxes. There are only two sources of a city’s salvation – a greater ratio of commercial and industrial to residential and/or an increase in sales taxes and fees. The first is the holy grail of every city. The second, a bane to residents, especially, the single-family homeowner.

That is why for years California’s planning goal was jobs/housing balance, not the current housing development push at any cost to the community, an added burden to bear when people are being squeezed, their world being hollowed out and their peers fleeing to other states for relief, increasing the disparity of income among those who remain.

Many voters knew these issues overtly or intuitively and went to the polls with them in mind.

Others voted in resentment to outsiders buying our town, while their hometowns have defied the state for years.

A large number did not like or trust a measure without limits on height or density in perpetuity. Their concerns and input ignored.

Most saw through the nonsense claims about solving the homeless problem, claims of more jobs and redoing the Mall, which stood empty before U.

More than one resisted the proposed change to our town’s image, our views of the mountains, our downtown.

The threats about state laws, without spelling them out, were hollow and swayed few.

A large number recognized a threat to their quality of life, especially in the degradation of the already bad traffic and parking problem, the impact on our schools and concrete and asphalt replacing our trees.

And yes, no doubt a large number just don’t like change. They see no reason to tamper with what is working well now. They like their town the way it is. Leave it alone. Hands off! We’re growing fast enough.

Professor Spee would be correct, if he counted me in with many others on all of the above.

Bill Cunningham, a former mayor of Redlands and a Redlands Unified School District trustee, was the principal author of measures N and U.