Special Municipal Election March 3, 2020
Frequently Asked Questions about Measure G
In December 2017, following two years of significant community input, the City Council of Redlands adopted a new General Plan. The new General Plan represents the vision for the City of Redlands through the year 2035, and establishes goals to implement the State of California’s Transit Village Development Planning Act of 1994 (the “Act”). This State legislation specifically recognizes, among other qualities, that:
- The greater use of public transit facilitated by the development of transit villages improves local street, road, and highway congestion by providing viable alternatives to automobile use;
- The development of transit village development districts can improve environmental conditions by increasing the use of transit, facilitating the creation of and improvement to walkable mixed-use communities and decreasing automobileuse; and
- The development of transit village development districts throughout the state should be environmentally conscious and sustainable, and related construction should meet or exceed the requirements of the California Green Building Standards Code.
The new General Plan articulates a vision for transit-oriented development and strategies for future development patterns around three Redlands Passenger Rail stations, scheduled to open in the year 2022. These General Plan goals serve as the foundation for the future development of a connected, accessible and active community within the downtown core of Redlands by creating distinct pedestrian- and transit-oriented villages that reflect each rail station’s assets and unique characteristics. Components of the strategy serve to improve connectivity between the proposed Transit Villages and the City’s varied neighborhoods; provide new jobs, housing and entertainment opportunities in compact, walkable environments; support multiple modes of transit, car travel, walking and bicycling; and provide new development and infill opportunities as alternatives to building at the edges of the City and agricultural lands around the City’s perimeter.
Measure G is an initiative ordinance that has been prepared, and submitted to the City’s voters for consideration on the ballot for the March 2020 election, by the City Council. Among its stated purposes are the encouragement of development within the Redlands Transit Villages Planning Area and the enhancement of the quality of life for Redlands residents.
If approved by voters, Measure G would exempt new development within the Transit Villages Planning Area from the development constraints imposed by three voter-sponsored land use measures approved in 1978, 1987 and 1997 – known as Proposition R, Measure N, and Measure U, respectively.
Exempting the Transit Villages Planning Area from the constraints imposed by these land use measures will facilitate implementation of the City’s General Plan vision for the creation of Transit Village neighborhoods. Preparation of a specific plan to implement the General Plan Transit Villages concept has already begun, with a series of community workshops held last year — documents and images from these workshops can be viewed on the Transit Villages web site.
Doesn’t the City Council already have the authority under Measure U to approve anticipated development projects within the proposed Transit Villages Specific Plan with a four-fifths vote?
No, the City Council does not have such authority. Measure U contains several references to a 4/5ths vote. Among them are the following:
- Upon a 4/5ths vote of the City Council, Measure U presently permits an exemption for development proposed within the City’s Specific Plan No. 45 from Measure U’s constraints. Because Specific Plan No. 45 represents only a small portion of the proposed Transit Villages Planning Area, this exemption obviously does not address constraints imposed by Measure U on other areas of the Transit Villages Planning Area, including development of the City’s old Safety Hall site, the Redlands Mall site, or development around the University of Redlands and New York Street Transit Villages rail stations.
- Upon a 4/5ths vote of the City Council, Measure U presently permits an exemption for development within the General Plan high density residential land use classification from Measure U’s constraints on height and density. However, this 4/5ths vote can only occur if the City Council also determines that the proposed development satisfies five specific findings. Two of these findings are the following:
- The proposed density or height increases will not have growth inducing effect on other property; and
- The proposed density or height increase will not require substantial expansion of public infrastructure, facilities, or services.
Because implementing the State’s Transit Village Planning Act of 1994 by concentrating new housing around transit villages will necessarily result in increased growth around the planned rail stations and the need for the expansion of public infrastructure and services to serve such concentrated growth, the two above-mentioned findings create a potential impediment to the City achieving its General Plan goals.
Can the Redlands Mall property be developed if Measure G is defeated?
Yes, a project that abides by the present development constraints of Measure U and meets current zoning requirements could be built on the Redlands Mall site. However, the experience of the City Council over the past decade with several property owners and potential developers of the Redlands Mall site, including the developer currently working on the site, is that none has been willing to build a project of the limited scale and density allowed under these constraints.
The community’s concept for the Redlands Mall site, as expressed in the various community workshops, is a mixture of residential and commercial buildings that are predominantly three to four stories, with portions of some buildings that may reach five stories. This concept was the outcome of feedback from community workshops that were part of the early planning process for the Transit Villages Specific Plan. Images of this type of development have been presented at nine community workshops on the Transit Villages Specific Plan as well as meetings of the Planning Commission and City Council, and have been positively received from the community and decision-makers. Measure G would facilitate a development project of this type.
Will developers be required to pay development impact fees if Measure G is approved?
Yes. Presently, Measure U requires that developers pay fees to cover “100 percent” of their pro rata share of the costs of any public infrastructure. While approval of Measure G would remove the voter-approved “100 percent” mandate, all of the City’s development impact fees will remain in place, and the intent of the City is that new development will continue to pay fees to fully mitigate the impacts such development will have on the Redlands community. However, if for some reason the City Council finds in the best interests of the City and its residents to require less than the “100 percent” mandate of Measure U, for example, for a project of public benefit such as a museum or other not-for-profit project, the City Council could consider alternatives that might include lessening the “100 percent” cash payment of fees by the non-profit organization strictly required by Measure U, in combination with other means of providing for the requisite infrastructure.
Will passage of Measure G help the City address State housing requirements?
Yes. Approval of Measure G will assist the City in complying with planning objectives for the City’s share of the Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) as required by the State. Every city in California is required to prepare a Housing Element for its General Plan which establishes the City’s plans for accommodating the RHNA. The final RHNA numbers for the next Housing Element planning cycle are scheduled to be finalized by August. The City will then have until October 2021 to revise and update its Housing Element to demonstrate that sufficient housing sites have been identified which can accommodate the City’s RHNA numbers. Currently, the draft RHNA numbers for Redlands range from 4,000 to 4,700 new residential units, up from 2,429 units the last Housing Element cycle (2014-2021). The City is required to have land available and zoned for residential use that can accommodate the City’s RHNA numbers.
The approval of Measure G will allow the City Council to approve plans that provide for increased residential densities in the core areas of the City around transit stations (Transit Villages) while leaving residential densities in the rest of the City unchanged. Without the approval of Measure G, density increases throughout all parts of the City will need to be re-evaluated in order to achieve the RHNA numbers because of the density constraints imposed by Measure U.
Where will the water come from for all this new development?
While the State of California has declared a housing emergency and determined that there is an extreme housing shortage, the State has not determined that there is a shortage of water. Rather the State of California has pursued a policy of water conservation and increased efficiency in how water is used. Building codes for new housing include water efficiency standards for fixtures much stricter than are found in most existing homes. Attached housing utilizes less than 50% of the water per household compared to single-family homes, and encouraging more compact urban-type residential development is considered much more sustainable from a water usage perspective.
What is the impact of Measure G on traffic?
Currently, street intersections with traffic levels of service (LOS) C must maintain that level of service. Measure G eliminates that requirement for intersections within the Transit Villages Planning Area. Traffic impacts are unknown, but it is likely that traffic may increase. The City will continue to evaluate the street network of the Transit Villages Planning Area with the review and adoption of the Transit Villages Specific Plan, and recommend improvements to the street network as necessary. The Transit Villages Specific Plan will aim to balance various forms of mobility, including walking and bicycling in addition to motorized vehicles.
What immediate development impacts might occur upon Measure G’s approval?
None. The approval of Measure G does not result in the corresponding approval of any development project. Measure G only removes certain regulatory constraints that impede the City’s vision for the development of Transit Villages as established by the Redlands General Plan. All future development within the Transit Villages Planning Area will continue to be processed with full public notice and review before the City’s Planning Commission and City Council.