OF REDLANDS, CALIFORNIA  - Founded 24 January 1895

4:00 P.M.

February 15, 2001

And He Is Us

crowd.jpg (18252 bytes)

by William Cunningham

Assembly Room, A. K. Smiley Public Library


A brief synopsis of events and governmental decisions over the last forty years which have affected the City of Redlands.Traced are changes resulting from those same events and decisions that have strong implications for the city's future.In as much as no one to this date has attempted to encapsulate the city's history over this span of years, it is hoped that the reader will be stimulated to further explore the story of these most eventful years in our city's history.

Biography of William Cunningham

The author served on the local school board from 1973 until 1987 and on the city council from 1987 until 1999.

The following is a brief retrospective on a few of the interacting events that have shaped our town's recent history and their potential impacts on its future.

Redlands, prior to the sixties and the coming of the freeway was a quiet, minor commercial and cultural center, noted for its fine small university and a vigorous but declining navel orange industry.

The communities of Yucaipa, Loma Linda and East Highlands were part of the school system and Redlands served most of their commercial, cultural and educational needs.

Each is now a city in its own right, and Yucaipa has its own schools, but their transformation has been inextricably a part of Redlands' story.

Redlands, itself, saw its greatest change in the sixties and early seventies when two seminal events occurred which transformed the city: the physical splitting of the town by the freeway, exacerbating, thereby, an historic separation along economic lines, a rift not healed to this day, and the formation of the city's redevelopment agency, a creature of state law intended to facilitate the eradication of inner city blight. The agency's first major project was the razing of the La Posada Hotel, the turn of the century Elks and Contemporary Club buildings and the displacement from the town center of businesses like Redlands Paint to make way for the construction of the Redlands Mall.

Not only did the mall's construction change the character of downtown but both the agency and the city assumed significant debt obligations in the process which caused significant strain on the city's finances, as the city assumed both the debt for the mall parking lot and its annual maintenance. Those costs, when the mall's sales and business license revenues were factored out, left the city with an annual, unfunded obligation of around a half million dollars a year.

In less than a decade the city had been split in two, the downtown forever changed and for the first time debt became an ongoing issue in city finance.

Prior to the creation of local agency formation commissions by the Cortese-Knox legislation of the early 1970s, cities grew and new ones were formed with little rhyme or reason. Redlands, for instance, annexed a narrow strip several miles in length to its water treatment plant on Mill Creek just as Los Angeles had stretched a twenty mile corridor south to San Pedro to pick up the harbor.

Cortese-Knox empowered LAFCOs in each county to determine the formation of new cities and designate "Spheres of Influence," areas contiguous to cities that were anticipated to be annexed at some future date. These "Spheres" were intended to regularize the expansion and development of cities.

The San Bernardino County LAFCO, made up of two representatives each from the county, the cities and the special districts, plus a "public member," designated all the lands south of the river, west to Mountain View, east to the crest of the Crafton Hills and south to the Riverside County line as Redlands' sphere.

For the first time, Redlands' ultimate size was defined. Planning for integration of the sphere areas into the city and development of infrastructure to serve them became a part of city thinking.

Two other important events occurred in the 70's which strongly affected the town, both occurred in the same year, 1978: the passage of the state-wide property tax cutting Proposition 13 and the adoption of Redlands' first growth management initiative, Proposition R.

Prop. 13 severely restricted property taxes and prohibited the issuance of general obligation bonds, the net effect of which was to shift city planning policy toward competition for sales tax generating commercial development and to create a new borrowing mechanism which subverted Prop. 13, the Certificate of Participation, or COP, which required just the vote of a city council majority to borrow large sums of money.

Dependence on the sales tax soon led to the "fiscalization" of land planning for all cities and the invention of COPS led to irresponsible borrowing practices, the fallout of which haunt city budgets

Prop. R, sponsored by a grass-roots group calling itself the Friends of Redlands, garnered 68 percent of the vote. The measure, intended to limit the pace of residential growth to 450 new housing units per year, was the first growth management effort by the citizens of any city in the county.

The schools, bound by the same Prop. 13 restriction on bonding, but without the city's ability to move money around, in 1980 sought and received, after some controversy, city support for school construction fees, again, a first for the county.

1980 also saw two major housing developments proposed in the county: the 3,800 unit East Highlands Ranch project on 1,710 acres by Mobil Oil and 2,800 units on the 1,000 acre Sunrise Ranch in Greenspot by Landmark, a New Orleans land developer.

Mobil, after repeated meetings with the schools, refused to provide the district with any help in housing the new students its project would produce.

The district sued on environmental grounds, but the court found that a developer's interests in building houses had a higher priority than children.

While East Highlands Ranch is nearly built-out, fortunately, Sunrise Ranch is yet to be developed.

Loma Linda incorporated, began to build upon its own separate identity and through mutual agreement took a large section of Redlands' western sphere, annexing all of those lands in Redlands' sphere west of California Street.

Through this same time large amounts of overseas money, especially from a booming Japan and revolution-torn Iran saturated the American real estate market, especially in the west, and Redlands was no exception. Many orange growers were tempted to sell and soon most of the groves in the Redlands area were owned by outside interests who bought the land based on its development potential. Many groves were soon neglected and allowed to die.

Recognizing that their land had little potential without government help, those who had bought the lands north of Barton Road, west of Texas Street and in a corridor north of Redlands Boulevard and east of Anderson Street in Loma Linda got together, levied an assessment per acre, and formed a planning committee for the land that they identified as the East Valley Corridor.

The area was organized into a new county service area, CSA 110, and the cities of Redlands and Loma Linda joined the county in supporting the landowners' efforts in creating a master development and financing plan.

The ambitious plan for commercial, industrial and residential development projected 109,000 jobs and a population of about 30,000 housed in 10,000 apartments, to be filled with "low and moderate income" residents from Orange and LA counties recruited to provide a part of that workforce.

While roughly 1100 of the 4600 acres affected were in an unincorporated island of county land, now known colloquially as the "donut hole," it was understood and agreed that Redlands would annex it as it developed and that the city would be responsible for providing the infrastructure. water and sewer and other services.

With the city growing rapidly and expecting early demand for services in the East Valley Corridor area, the city council borrowed tens of millions of dollars with COPS to build the Hinckley Water Treatment Plant, to expand the wastewater treatment plant's capacity from 6 mgd (million gallons per day) to 9 mgd, to build a new and large city equipment yard and a third fire station.

Since 1951 the city had been acquiring Bear Valley Mutual Water Company and its affiliated companies' water rights through the requirement that developers provide shares of water stock to the city as they removed land from agricultural production. The development of the Hinckley 12 mgd plant enabled the city to utilize that source of water for the first time.

The mid-80's rapid growth caused two long-simmering controversies to break into the open.

In spite of continuing growth impacting the capacity of the schools to provide housing for children and the continuing restriction by Prop 13 on the schools' ability to raise school-building funds through bonds, the city council had terminated the collection of school construction fees after just the 1980 year but to appease the schools had adopted an ordinance that promised to reinstate the fees when the schools reached ninety percent of capacity.

After repeated refusals by the council to implement the ordinance, in spite of overwhelming evidence of school crowding, in 1985 the schools successfully resorted to the courts to resolve the matter.

While Redlands' school fees were far from the highest in the state, they triggered state legislation, authored by local assemblyman Bill Leonard, to place a state cap on the fees at an amount well below the need and to restrict fee use to the acquisition of "temporary, portable" classrooms, all of which are still in use twenty-five years later. That legislation started the schools on a downward path from which they may never recover.

That year also saw the first major borrowing by the city, a $15,090,000 COP to build a northside fire station, needed to serve the growth in that area, a city yard with capacity to serve the city well into the next century and a mainframe computer. A part of the COP proceeds were taken to sell the old city yard to the city, itself, an amount equally $2.5 million, which was then utilized for employee salary increases. No funding mechanism was put in place to either service the debt or to fund the continuing obligation of the salary increases.

At this same time the city council sought a reinterpretation of Prop. R which exempted apartments from the measure's 450 annual unit cap.

The thousands of apartments approved and built as a result of that council decision led to the formation of a successor organization to the Friends of Redlands, The Redlands Association, in September of 1986, a successful initiative signature collection drive by that organization and the placement of a growth-management measure. Measure N, on the November 1987 ballot.

June of that year saw the city borrow, again utilizing a COP, $7.265 million as a "Centennial Gift to the people of Redlands."

Proposed projects included refurbishment of Smiley Library, a northside "Centennial Park" and a start to the rehabilitation of the Fox Theater.

Again. no new source of funds was identified to pay off the debt.

In an attempt to divert attention from Measure N and dilute its support by the voters, the pro­development city council placed an open space bond measure in the amount of $7.6 million on the ballot, Measure O. (Proposition 13B had been adopted by the voters, which provided for general obligation bonds to be once again sold on a twothirds vote) And to the surprise of many, the open space bond passed by a comfortable margin.

N, adopted by an overwhelming 71 percent affimative vote, closed the apartment loophole in Prop. R, restricted the density of development on agricultural lands as an instrument to save citrus and limited residential development to 400 units per year within the city and 150 in the sphere, with preference given to individual, custom-built homes.

While the city's 1988 centennial celebration was a resounding success, including a banquet on State Street, which attracted hundreds, other than a shovel-turning groundbreaking for "Centennial Park," both the park and the Fox soon disappeared from council thought.

Through these years, Redlands schools, as did many other school districts, turned to year-round schedules, covering playgrounds with "portables" and packing 1,000 children on to campuses designed for half that many.

1989 brought the incorporation of the City of Yucaipa, the adoption of a modified East Valley Specific Plan by Loma Linda, Redlands and the County and the creation of the CSA 110, County Service Area 110, as well as the initiation of the formation of the Inland Valley Development Agency (IVDA).

The incorporation of Yucaipa as a county city resulted in the loss of the Crafton Hills College area from Redlands' "sphere" and an attendant move by LAFCO to assign a sphere of Influence for the new city, further impacting Redlands. as the logical extension of that sphere would be into the southeast Sunset Drive and Live Oak canyon areas which were still in the county, outside Redlands' city limits.

The East Valley Corridor plan was adopted by a three-two split Redlands city council only after the 10,000 apartment component was removed from the plan, mainly as a result of vigorous Redlands community reaction, strongly influenced by The Redlands Association.

The Inland Valley Development Agency, IVDA, was created by special state legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Bill Leonard of San Bernardino as a proposed economic engine to replace the loss of Norton Air Force Base to the local economy.

The agency's proposed boundaries were to encompass all lands within a three mile perimeter of the 2,200 acre base. Included were nearly one-third of the City of Redlands (south past Barton Road and east past Orange Street) and much of the new City of Highland. Included, also, were unincorporated lands in Redlands "sphere" on the west. including the "donut hole" (of which more later) and the city's sphere area on the north to Highland's southern boundary in the river.

While small portions of Loma Linda and Colton were included within the proposed boundaries and many of the City of San Bernardino areas affected were already in city redevelopment projects, the potential negative effects on the cities of Highland and Redlands were enormous.

At this same time Loma Linda sought through LAFCO to expand eastward to Nevada Street, taking in most of San Timoteo Canyon and all of Redlands' southwestern sphere.

The city found itself embattled and threatened on all fronts. Loma Linda was seeking to capture the western portions of the city from Terracina Boulevard west. Yucaipa was proposing to expand its sphere in the southeastern area and down Live Oak canyon. And the IVDA was about to capture all of the property tax base from all new development on those city and sphere lands with the greatest potential for the city's economic future, as state law, at that time, gave all new property taxes from new development within an agency to it, including those taxes that would have ordinarily gone to schools.

The city. quite literally, faced a devastating future.

Fortunately, in July of that year 400 residents of the southeast Sunset Drive area, who just three years before had rejected annexation, submitted a petition requesting annexation to the city, citing their preference to be in Redlands rather than Yucaipa and a change of heart influenced by the new development protections afforded by Measure N.

Residents along the west side of Terracina and three of the major property owners in San Timoteo Canyon, the Un family, Mo Behzad and Frank Bianchini, as well as several others, agreed to support Redlands counter-effort to annex the area in an attempt to halt Loma Linda's march eastward.

Redlands applied to LAFCO to annex all the lands to the county's southern border west from the freeway to north of Barton Road on the west, an area of more than nine square miles.

Application was also made to annex the "donut hole" and the sphere area in the river south of Highland.

The city opted out of joining the IVDA and brought suit against the finalization of the formation of the Norton redevelopment agency to gain time to complete its annexation efforts as well as to extract reasonable concessions from the agency that the city could live with.

While the IVDA lawsuit dragged through the courts, a bitterly contested annexation fight with Loma Linda ended in a compromise with the city ceding two square miles west of Nevada Street to Loma Linda and agreeing to give to Yucaipa the business properties on the frontage road along I-10.

Seven square miles were added to the city.

The annexation of the river lands proceeded without controversy, but a significant number of property owners, led by realtor Nick Karhalios and the Kuniharas, opposed and defeated the attempt to annex the "donut hole."

Redlands' IVDA lawsuit succeeded in excluding all of the city, and Highland which had become a co­plaintiff, from the agency and the terms of the settlement stipulated that the one sphere area of the city left within the agency's boundaries, the "hole," would be expected to be annexed at some time in the future, as development of the area occurred, with the property taxes generated to be shared equally between the city and the IVDA. With the further covenant that the IVDA's share would be spent on infrastructure improvements within the "hole," itself.

Back in 1986, in an effort to emulate the planning efforts of LA 2000, the city council had appointed a committee of 100 to set planning goals for the city.

Dubbed Redlands 2000, the committee's final report, well-received by the community, listed 41 goals, the achievement of which, it was proposed, would maintain the city's livability and quality of life.

The city's General Plan was years out of date, adopted in 1972 it had but one major revision in 1978 and was well out of compliance with state law, especially the "housing element."

In 1989 a consultant was hired and twenty-three citizens from every geographic area of the city as well as special interest groups, including the schools, were appointed as a general plan revision committee.

After nearly three years of hearings, debates and votes, as well as the expenditure of around $500,000 for consultants and engineering studies, a plan was submitted to the planning commission and the city council which contained most all the goals of the Redlands 2000 Report and conformed with the requirements of both state law and Measure N.

The new majority on the city council of Swen Larson, James Foster and Pat Gilbreath rejected the effort out-of-hand, delegated Foster and Gilbreath as council liaison to a new consultant team hired at a cost exceeding $400,000 and totally revised the plan. For the first time, high density housing zoning came to Redlands, the canyons were planned to be urbanized, the restrictions of Measure N on the density of development of lands in citrus, as well as the 400 unit annual cap, were violated.

Redlands' city character was to be urbanized and put on a fast development track.

In response The Redlands Association sued the city council to force it to comply with the requirements of Measure N.

The city's defense depended on recent court decisions after the passage of Measure N which affected how language could be used in initiatives. The court redefined both Prop R and Measure N as zoning ordinances, while keeping their terms in effect, and ruled in the association's favor on the council's attempt to change the definition of "Urban Reserve" in the city's General Plan.

The court awarded the association its legal costs of $6,600.

After several failed attempts, the schools, in a special March election, succeeded in passing a $39 million bond measure for the construction of Redlands East Valley High School.

The new school's location, outside the city, within walking distance of Redlands High and in an agricultural zone, produced considerable controversy

Several years earlier, Jim Barton, a westend developer, especially in the new city of Rancho Cucamonga, sought to develop a commercial center and Kaiser hospital on the then Southern Pacific property west of California Street, between Lugonia and San Bernardino avenues.

A development agreement was signed and Barton and Kaiser shared in a $400,000 "gift" to the city which made possible the construction of the Senior Center.

In 1994 Majestic Realty introduced itself to the city. Seeking fast track approval for a strip center and mall, the developer requested that the city give priority to processing the project, setting aside all other projects to get the job done.

To encourage development the council offered Majestic and others a subsidy of half-fees on infrastructure, an amount estimated at $3.1 million in Majestic's case, a subsidy to be absorbed by Redlands citizens in higher utility rates and diminished general services. The Braswell's took advantage of the offer, saving about $800,000 in city fees on their amusement park.

Majestic refused the subsidy, and demanded more.

The major portion of the 125 acre Majestic site had originally been purchased by John Curci, an Orange County real estate developer, whose family controlled San Bernardino's Carousel Mall, at the suggestion of J.J. Ramirez, a local orange grower and investor.

Curd entered into a limited partnership with Ed Roski, Majestic's owner, and they completed acquisition of the site with the purchase of Ramirez's contiguous 55 acres.

More than a year previous to Majestic's approach to the city Jane Un had proposed an entertainment center, Cities Pavillion, on 50 acres just across the SR-30 freeway to the east.

And almost simultaneously with Majestic's approach, a group headed by Harry Newman. an Orange County commercial investor. came to the city with a proposal for a large mall, dubbed Redlands' Fashion Center, on California Street, north of I-10.

The latter project included both the land controlled by Barton, as well as properties owned by the Chapman family lying north of I-10 and encompassing all the land between the freeway and the river. The Chapman property, alone, aggregated to more than 300 acres.

The developers offered a subsidy of $500,000 to soften the impact of their project on downtown.

Barton's original project had stalled, most likely due to the downturn of the early nineties and Kaiser had abandoned their major hospital project, in part because of a restriction imposed by the city council that they could not build within ten years, a protection for Redlands Community Hospital. In spite of Kaiser's plea that they had more than 11,000 subscribers in Redlands, alone, and would not compete with RCH for patients, the council stopped the hospital.

Thus, almost overnight Redlands had three multi-million dollar commercial projects competing with one another. Soon to be followed by a fourth at the intersection of I-10 and SR-30, the Redlands Crossing project, a 500,000 square foot strip center.

At a time when other county cities were stagnating, Redlands was inundated with proposed commercial development projects.

In the spring of 1995, The Redlands Association returned to the people to restore Measure N and to tighten residential development standards.

At about that time, Majestic, after demanding ever more concessions, dropped its proposed annexation and initiated development approvals with the county.

In spite of the fact that the growth management initiative had no effect on commercial development, and the spokespersons for the opposition, the Wormsers and Shirley Harry, refused to divulge their source of funding, campaign documents eventually revealed that Majestic spent more than $280,000 to defeat the initiative, Measure H, by the narrowest of margins that November.

The mall war between Majestic and the Fashion Center project collapsed when the owners of Inland Center, an already ailing mall, lured Robinson's-May, the prize anchor tenant sought by both Majestic and Fashion Center, to the south San Bernardino mall with incentives reputed to be as high as $16 million.

With the denouement of the Fashion Center proposal, just the two strip malls, Majestic and Redlands Crossing were left, plus the Cities Pavillion entertainment center. All, were competing for a theater, assumed an imperative to commercial success.

In the interim, after years of little activity the downtown saw its first major investment in many years, George Krikorian's theater.

While Tom Brand. who had operated the two screen Rainbow Theater in the Fox Building had first proposed a theater, he could not get funding as the chains considered downtown Redlands a market not worth exploring.

After much encouragement George Krikorian was finally enticed to take the gamble. The project dragged on for months. Many doubted its completion. But when opened, it was an immediate success.

Starting through the approval process about the same time as Krikorian, the Cities Pavillion project agreed to wait eighteen months before construction, giving Krikorian a chance to establish a clientele.

While market studies authorized by both Majestic and the Crossing indicated that the Redlands market could only marginally sustain two theaters in the foreseeable future, neither Majestic nor Redlands Crossing would agree to a 24 month delay in their theater component, which would have added a third, bringing the total of 60 screens to a market that could only marginally, at best, support 40.

During 1997 relations with Majestic deteriorated so badly that Mayor Larson refused any further meetings or negotiations.

Meanwhile. The Redlands Association went back to the people with an initiative campaign for another grow-management measure, and the election of 1997 saw a growth management majority seated on the city council for the first time in the city's history and the adoption of Measure U, which restored many of the provisions of Measure N, rezoned the canyons to Resource Preservation and set standards for the provision of utility services outside the city, for signage, and for traffic.

1998 produced further school legislation affecting Redlands ability to build schools. The courts had determined that schools could collect more than the Leonard bill's capped fees. In response, the building industry successfully lobbied for and orchestrated the passage of Proposition 1 A, which again imposed a cap but also provided for an $8 billion school construction bond.

1998 also saw an intensified effort by the new city council to come to terms with Majestic, ail to no avail.

Meanwhile, the developers' competition continued unabated, with Majestic increasing its efforts and employing every means to prevent or slow the two competing projects.

While the Cities Pavilion group refused to concede, the Crossing people terminated their planned project and turned to the courts, alleging favorable treatment of Majestic by the city and seeing damages of $12 million. The claim was rejected by the Courts.

Soon, the Pavilion project was tied up in bankruptcy and criminal proceedings in which Majestic had a hand, spending a known $185,000 in the bankruptcy case and having some involvement in the criminal proceedings.

Having eliminated all its competition, Majestic then focused its attention on the city.

Still refusing to meet the city's development standards or pay customary fees, Majestic moved to have the county amend its general plan, removing all cities' control over their spheres and, at the same time, shifted the focus of controversy to Sacramento, spending inordinate sums of money to gain special legislation.

The amendment to the county's general plan, led by Dennis Hansberger, raised the ire of all twenty four county cities. Two, Fontana and Rancho Cucamonga, joined Redlands in a court challenge of the county's action. Fontana soon dropped out, but the two cities were successful in their challenge. The county has since appealed.

Complicating Majestic's efforts, Lowe's, the nation's second largest home improvement chain came to town. While meeting fierce resistance from Majestic, Lowe's was too big to be deterred.

Led by four lobbying teams, a public relations firm, Assemblyman Brett Granlund and Senator Joe Baca, Majestic's first special law passed the legislature but was vetoed by the new governor, Gray Davis, due, in part, to the opposition of the League of California Cities and Redlands, itself.

Davis' veto message in October 1999 came with the caveat the city come to agreement with Majestic, or he would sign a successor bill.

Majestic had nothing to lose in being intransigent.

As the result of the most expensive campaign in the city's history, November 1999 brought two new faces to the council with Majestic's support.

But, in the last analysis, neither could they come to agreement with the developer.

They did, however, fire the city manager at Majestic's demand at a cost approaching $300,000.

Granlund reintroduced a duplicate successor special bill in 2000. Davis signed.

While no one really knows how much Majestic money greased the Sacramento effort, we do know that Baca received $8,000 immediately after his vote and Davis got $80,000.

In spite of the fact that the "hole" is totally surrounded by the city, Majestic had got Sacramento to eliminate all city control over the area, deny any reimbursement for the city millions invested in infrastructure to serve the area and gained carte blanche access to the area by other service providers over city streets and property without reimbursement or city control over where they might go.

The city sued to declare the measure unconstitutional.

Meanwhile, seeing the $8 billion school bond fund melting away rapidly and faced with new, legal demands from schools, development forces placed Proposition 39 on the November 2000 ballot, successfully reducing the required two-thirds majority for the passage of school bonds to fifty five percent.

Home Depot, the country's largest home improvement merchant followed Lowe's to town. Majestic challenged, again, but failed.

Hershey's decided to build its west coast distribution facility in Redlands and began processing its project.

Matters between Majestic and the new city council came to a head in January 2001, purportedly over two issues, lawsuits by Majestic and the county against the Hershey project and the costs sustained by the city in successfully defending itself.

After many secret meetings, primarily between the two new council members, Karl Haws and Susan Peppier and Majestic representatives John Mirau and Timmish Chaikofsky, a deal was struck that had the support of the mayor, Patricia Gilbreath, a long-time Majestic supporter.

The terms:

The city would give up all influence in or opportunity to annex the "hole" for a period of 25 years.

All lawsuits won by the city would become null and void.

Any city infrastructure lost in the "hole" would not be reimbursed.

The city would not challenge the environmental impact of any project in the "hole" no matter what the project might be or how it might affect the city or its residents.

While Majestic and the county would drop their legal challenges against the Hershey project, they retained the right to sue the city on all other matters.

The city gave up all right to challenge any matter affecting the "hole" in spite of the fact that all other property owners in the "hole," were not bound by the agreement's terms and retained all rights to challenge any city action no matter where taken.

Majestic agreed not to challenge an increase in the city's wastewater treatment plant's capacity but retained the right to challenge on any other issues, including the city's effort to meet state regulations and to deliver reclaimed water to the Mountain View power plant and others.

The special state legislation, AB 1544, was accepted as constitutional and binding on the city.

If anyone challenged the agreement, including citizens in their private right, the city would guarantee the agreement's terms and reimburse Majestic and the "hole" owners for any losses or costs incurred.

The agreement was drafted by Majestic's attorneys. Majestic's representatives would agree to no substantive modifications and Gilbreath, Haws and Peppler voted to accept it at a special, secret meeting at a time when the city attorney was out of town.

The city council majority accepted these terms just seven days before the court in Riverside would have determined the constitutionality of AB 1544, wasting an opportunity both to continue to control the "hole" and keep it in the city's sphere and at a waste of tens of thousands of dollars expended in legal preparation for the trial, which they had every expectation of winning.

The agreement caused a bitter break between the council majority and members John Freedman and Gary George.


The preceding recitation of events, while hopefully informative, has little meaning until put in the context of what those happenings over the course of some forty years have meant in terms of how the city and its residents have been affected by them and their implications for the future.

The following come to mind.


Redlands has been uniquely endowed with a heritage of high quality, abundant water.

We owe a debt of gratitude to those who created the Zanja, built Big Bear Dam and perfected the rights to those stream flows, water sources of the highest quality, of considerable volume and at high elevation.

For many years, Mill Creek satisfied all of Redlands' winter water demand, but with a doubling of population that is a thing of the past.

Redlands is now dependent on well water for more than half its supply. water that is of significantly lower quality, costly to pump and at lower elevation.

The issue of quality becomes ever more pressing as the regulatory agencies evluate and set standards increasingly more stringent for contaminants such as radon, for example.

Radon, a known carcinogen and decay product of uranium 238, is a short-lived alpha emitter which is at the top of a chain of other short-lived heavy element isotopes which finally decay to lead. A severe threat to health if ingested or inhaled in small quantity over time. All of our wells produce some radon.

If the EPA, as it has suggested in the past, tightens its radon rule, Redlands, and all other cities in the valley would face a water crisis.

Water, from cleaner sources, in quantity but of questionable availability. would need to be imported at significant cost, if it could be found.

In the meantime, our historic stream water rights are in jeopardy.

The building of the Seven Oaks Dam stopped all of the river flow, much of which was underground, that nourished our wells downstream.

Further, San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District (MUNI) and Orange County have laid claim to that water trapped behind the dam.

This issue, far from resolution, could take more than a decade to sort out, with Redlands having nothing to gain but preserving its rights.

The litigation could take millions, with but one source for those funds, Redlands ratepayers.

A second issue surrounds the relicensing of the Edison hydro facilities on both streams.

Dependent on a decision yet to be made by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), any restriction in Edison's ability to use the stream waters to generate power will adversely affect our water supply.

Pitted against the city and Edison on the one side are the Forest Service, Audubon and Cal Trout. They would like to see the streams run freely, restoring habitat and possibly a trout fishery.

An adverse decision in their favor would result in the city suffering a significant diminution in its supply due to transvaporation and percolation.

Plus, Redlands not only takes the natural stream flows as they exit the powerhouses, but it also operates wells upstream on both the river and the creek to supplement those flows. Edison pays for the wells' operation as the additional water to the powerhouses enables them to produce more power than the wells consume.

Compounding all these issues is the plan by the Yucaipa valley water district to divert their wastewater effluent discharge from San Timoteo Creek, a loss to that aquifer of approximately 7,700 acre feet per year.

Redlands has just completed two major wells drawing on that aquifer, necessitated by the contamination of other city wells due to the presence of the Lockheed plume of trichloroethylene and perchlorate. The loss of capacity in these new wells would pose further constraints on our water supply.


Water in the Santa Ana watershed is used a minimum of three times before it reaches the sea.

Each use increases the water's salt load, known as TDS, or Total Dissolved Solids. nitrogen, a byproduct of biological activity, and, of course, viral and bacterial content, as well as traces of heavy metals.

Redlands, as the first user, has an obligation to make its effluent discharge as clean as possible. Not an easy task.

While organics lend themselves to bacterial and halide processes, removal of salts and nitrogen pose very expensive options.

As long as our principal supply was the nearly pristine mountain stream water, those issues of water quality were of little concern, but with the increased demand due to growth, use of much lower quality well water is forcing us to the utilization of very expensive and power-hungry processes to reduce both TDS and nitrogen to meet our downstream obligations.


Redlands, unique among cities in the region, operates its own landfill, resulting in costs half what others face.

But we are consuming its capacity at an ever-increasing rate, forcing significant expansion of the facility.

The cost of this expansion is high. While adding some years to our landfill, it only postpones a day of reckoning.


While going to a cnulti-track, year-round schedule has allowed the district to absorb thousands more children, that option is nearly exhausted.

A third high school as well as additional middle and elementary schools are needed, now.

Since Redlands provides more than half of the district's bonding capacity, while only a modest fraction of the residential growth, funding of new school facilities will result, as it has in the past, in a significant transfer of wealth from Redlands to the other areas in the district.

As Redlands residents become ever more aware of this, the likelihood will be for calls to breakup the district and an increase in the opposition to bonds needed to build these schools and others in the future.


There remain some 3,000 acres of citrus in the Redlands area, enough to sustain the industry.

While Measure U has proved to be successful in achieving the preservation and replacement of trees where tree removal made way for residential development, a major fraction of the groves are located in areas slated for other types of development. Those areas face no comparable restrictions.

Citrus, like any other industry, must maintain a critical mass to survive.

Grove maintenance, packing, pest control, picking all require both capital and labor. If and when Redlands' acreage is reduced below that critical mass, the industry is no longer viable.

Surprising as it may seem, for several types of development, especially residential, the ratio of costs of services versus revenue flowing to the city and its residents is measurably better if the property remains in citrus.

Plus, while development is required to pay fees for capital improvements necessitated by their impacts on the city's infrastructure, the fees are woefully inadequate to meet the cumulative need, resulting in reduced services and postponed obligations that must be met sometime in the future.


Traffic has grown at more than twice the rate of population increase.

Our intersections are now signalized at considerable annual maintenance cost. Residential streets have become thoroughfares. Neighborhoods have been disrupted with demands for street widening as is happening today to the residents on Church Street.

Noise, especially from traffic, increasingly affects our quality of life. Sound walls will soon rise to marginally protect residents from the noise impacts of a widened freeway built to facilitate the transshipment of goods from the coast.

Ours will be the pleasure of subsidizing delivery of a TV made in Japan to a home in Iowa, as these more than traffic demands can only be marginally addressed with dollars, billions of them, of which we will provide our share.


City debt to meet the demands caused by growth has increased from $2 million to more than $140 million. Services have been cut. Maintenance of our urban forest, for example, is severely reduced. Tree replacement is now non-existent.

Capital assets have been converted into cash to meet the costs of daily operations. Fees are now charged for many services previously free.

An eight percent surcharge has been added to our utility bills. Utilities now pay a franchise fee, in lieu property taxes, and a street repair fee, in effect a hidden property tax buried in our utility bills, amounting to millions of dollars per year.


Redlands' population increased from approximately 10,000 to 68,000 this last century. The country from 97 million to 281 million, the world from 2 billion to 6 billion, with no sign of slowing in each case.

Surely the imperative of limits will at some time dictate a slowing, perhaps a reversal, possibly catastrophic, at some point if we continue on the present path.

We know the issues, be they warming on a global scale, or air quality, water quality and availability, traffic, waste disposal, the provision of essential services, in sum habitability, on a local and regional scale, all driven by how many we are.

Knowing this, do we have some responsibility to ensure that those who follow us will inherit a sustainable environment in which to live, one providing a meaningful quality of life?

If we do not address the issue of our growth in numbers and the attendant impact our numbers have upon both the earth and one another soon, all, including our little microcosm of Redlands, will no longer provide a way of life and environment even marginally comparable to that which we enjoy today.

And if we do not recognize the rallying cries of "We must grow or die," and "Growth is inevitable." for the absurdity and danger of their very premise.

Then truly, as Pogo, that quintessentially astute woodlands philosopher so aptly said,

"We have met the enemy, AND HE IS US."

Home Page

Copyright © 2007 The Fortnightly Club of Redlands, California 
Website maintained by RedFusion Media