BY JAN SEARS
jsears@pe.com
Published: 22 June 2012 05:14 PM

With Metrolink expecting to begin service to Redlands at five rail stops later this decade, the City Council last week took an early step toward planning for development around the stations.

The city’s planning staff is creating new guidelines for development around the rail stops. Those guidelines eventually will be added to Redlands’ general plan, which guides the city’s development.

The idea is to allow higher density, mixed-use development within a half-mile radius of the stations to encourage people to live, shop and work closer to transportation hubs.

However, in 1997 Redlands voters approved Measure U, which created “comprehensive and inviolable principles of managed development” to preserve the city’s quality of life.

Principal Planner Manuel Baeza told the council on Tuesday that the Measure U provisions have created an ambiguity that needed to be resolved. The document states that Redlands cannot add new land-use classifications without a vote of the residents, but it also states that its provisions don’t apply to development directly related to Metrolink stations.

The council was asked to approve a resolution that identifies the importance of the Metrolink stations and states that the new land classifications are necessary to develop them.

The action, which was unanimously approved, removes the requirement for an election.

Bill Cunningham, a former Redlands mayor and leader of the Redlands Association, which developed Measure U, told the council that he was concerned that the change would “designate two square miles at the heart of the city for high-density residential development.”

Such development would have an impact on traffic, he said.

“Not all of those people are going to ride a train between here and Second Street,” Cunningham said, referring to the transit hub in San Bernardino. “With all of the associated impacts on air quality, this could be counter productive.”

The council’s action did not include adopting any zoning changes. Those are still being worked on by the city’s planning staff, Community Development Director Oscar Orci said.

The guidelines would vary from station to station, Orci said. At the University of Redlands, they likely would cater to the student lifestyle and recommend retail and residential projects. Downtown, they may focus on workforce housing along with retail and office development, he said.

Councilman Jerry Bean said he thought the half-mile radius might be too large, especially downtown.

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