A) Project Description
The applicant proposes to amend the existing General Plan designation from Commercial to Low Density Residential (0 to 6 units per acre), to remove the 37.2 acre project site from the East Valley Corridor Specific Plan, adopt a new Specific Plan to establish development standards for single family residential development and a subdivide the 37.2 acre project area into 207 single family residential lots and 7 lettered lots for landscaping, recreational open space, and stormwater basins. The Specific Plan would allow the construction of one-story and two-story single-family homes, as well as outline the construction of new interior streets to serve the project, private recreational open space areas and on-site amenities, landscape and lighting, and related improvements including drainage basins and public/private utility connections. The project site is located on the north side of San Bernardino Avenue, the west side of Texas Street, and the south side of Pioneer Avenue (Attachment A). Plans of the project have been included as Attachment B.
B) Background & Site History
The project site is currently vacant and disturbed. Aerial photography indicates that agricultural uses (specifically citrus groves) were established on the property prior to 1938, and occupied the project site until their removal in April 2018. In 2004, the Redlands Unified School District notified the City of their intent to acquire approximately 60 acres north of the project site to construct Citrus Valley High School (opened for classes in 2009).
In January 2009, the City Council approved Concept Plan No. 7 for the subject Development Envelope (in which the project site is located) for a mixed-use development, and which included the 37.2-acre project site now under consideration. That prior entitlement included 199 single-family detached residences, 20,000 square-feet of office space, 85,500 square-feet of retail and restaurant space, and an estimated 345,100 square-feet of general commercial space. That prior project also included: a General Plan Amendment (to amend 23 acres of the Commercial land use designation to Medium Density Residential for up to 15 units per acre); amendment to the East Valley Corridor Specific Plan to create a new zoning designation (the Planned Residential or 'EV/RP9' designation); a Commission Review and Approval and a Conditional Use Permit; a Tentative Tract Map for the residential component; and a Tentative Parcel Map for the commercial component. Environmental (CEQA) litigation filed by the Redlands Association challenged the project and resulted in a Settlement Agreement, and the City agreed to rescind the prior entitlements and the development of the project did not proceed.
On February 7, 2012, the City Council adopted Amendment No. 40 to the East Valley Corridor Specific Plan that granted the property owner’s request to eliminate the Development Envelope that contained approximately 72 acres, bounded by Pioneer Avenue on the north, San Bernardino Avenue on the south, Texas Street on the east, and the 210 Freeway on the west (and which included the 37.2-acre project site now under consideration). Development Envelopes were created as part of the East Valley Corridor Specific Plan and grouped large blocks of properties together (regardless of ownership), and established the minimum area that must be master planned as a single unit. The elimination of the Development Envelope, therefore, eliminated the requirement for a Concept Plan (master plan) for future development of the area, and effectively allowed the individual properties in the envelope to be developed separately and incrementally.
A) General Plan & Measure U
The current General Plan designation of the project site is Commercial, and is proposed to be changed to Low Density Residential to allow for up to 6.0 units per acre (see Attachment C-1). The project proposes a residential density of 5.7 units per acre, which is consistent with the Low Density Residential designation, and would be consistent with residential neighborhoods to the east and south. The Low Density Residential designation would also be consistent with the vacant properties to the north of Citrus Valley High School, which were changed to Low Density Residential by the General Plan Update (acknowledging that some areas near the new high school may develop with residential uses). The project is consistent with several General Plan policies, as analyzed in the attached table (see Attachment C-2), including those which specifically promote developing single-family residences on small lots.
Pursuant to Measure U and the long-term goal of achieving 75 percent single-family units at buildout of the General Plan, the proposed project consists of entirely single family units and would be consistent with this goal. As the land on the project site was in active agricultural production on November 3, 1986, regardless of zoning, the adoption of the Specific Plan at a density consistent with Low Density Residential would require a four-fifths vote of the City Council.
B) General Plan Amendment
The proposed project includes a request to amend the existing underlying General Plan designation from Commercial to Low Density Residential, to be consistent with the Low Density Residential designation to the east of the project site (across Texas Street). Approval of this General Plan Amendment is required to move forward with the 207-lot residential development. In evaluating whether this proposed amendment was appropriate, staff considered current and anticipated future development patterns of the general area.
The first consideration in evaluating this proposed change is how the change would relate to development in the surrounding area. The project area is bounded on the north by Citrus Valley High School (constructed after the area was placed within the Commercial General Plan designation). Its construction has changed the context of the surrounding area, as reflected in the adoption of the 2035 General Plan, which changed the designation of the properties north of the high school to Low Density Residential and Very Low Density Residential (from Industrial previously).
Land to the south and west of the project site is zoned for Commercial uses. The proposed project (a small-lot single family residential development) under the proposed Low Density Residential designation would allow for a more urban-style environment, and would be more appropriate than traditional single-family residential development on large lots adjacent to Commercial uses. The use of landscaped lettered lots (to provide a buffer) and decorative masonry walls would provide separation, screening, and noise protection from surrounding uses. Additionally, the tract’s design, with lots facing internally toward streets within the development (rather than facing the surrounding perimeter streets) would also ensure compatibly.
C) Zoning Designation
The property is currently located in the Special Development District (EV/SD) of the East Valley Corridor Specific Plan, which allows for a variety of commercial, institutional, or open space related uses, using any permitted uses within the General Commercial, Commercial Industrial, Administrative Professional, Public Institutional, and Open Space districts. The project site was previously included in a Development Envelope (one of several found throughout the East Valley Specific Plan), however, the subject properties were previously removed from this Development Envelope through a Specific Plan Amendment (see Background section above). If the proposed Specific Plan is approved, it will act as the zoning for the subject properties.
D) Specific Plan Amendment
The proposed project includes the request to amend the land use map of the East Valley Corridor Specific Plan (EVCSP) to remove the project site from the EVCSP (see Attachment F, exhibit A). This change is required in order to adopt the new Specific Plan that will establish the development standards for the proposed residential development. The EVCSP does not include development standards for small-lot residential development, and this type of small-lot housing cannot be provided through another existing zoning category of the EVCSP. The only single-family residential zoning designation with the EVCSP is the Single Family Residential District, which accommodates traditional single-family residential subdivision with a minimum lot size of 7,200 square-feet.
The project site is located on the outer eastern edge of the EVCSP boundaries, and abuts RMC Title 18 zoning designations to the east. As such, removal of the project site entirely from the EVCSP would not cause the creation of an island within the EVCSP, and would not impede the orderly continued development of the EVCSP. As the Development Envelopment for the current project site was previously eliminated (as noted above in Background), removal of the 37.2-acre project site would not complicate or interfere with an existing Development Envelope nor require modification to any Development Envelopes.
Adjacent properties to the south, north, and west would remain within the EVCSP under the provisions of their respective land use designations. The project site to the north is already developed with Citrus Valley High School, and properties further to the north will develop with residential uses in accordance with the 2035 General Plan. The property to the south contains an existing Concept Plan (approved in 1995) outlining future commercial development of that Development Envelope. On the west side of the proposed Heritage Specific Plan is a landscaped lettered lot, as well as the future construction of a segment of New York Street (on the adjacent property at an undetermined point in time), and these will provide a significant separation between the proposed residential development and any future commercial development that may occur under the existing EV/SD District.
E) Proposed Specific Plan
The Heritage Specific Plan provides the planning framework for the development of the project site, while ensuring compatibility with the surrounding area. It achieves this through cohesive design and planning of the architectural design, landscaping, circulation, screening, and infrastructure. The Heritage Specific Plan (see Attachment I, exhibit A) establishes custom development standards and design guidelines for the project site, as a unique development of this nature could not normally be accommodated under the conventional Title 18 zoning regulations.
Small-lot residential developments have been developed in other areas of the City under other Specific Plans. These types of development emulate neo-traditional design reminiscent of early town planning concepts through the utilization of reduced lot sizes, reduced setbacks, and architectural styles that utilize modern versions of historic architecture. These other similar approved and constructed residential Specific Plan developments include:
Table A provides a comparison of the Heritage Specific Plan to each of these similar small-lot residential developments located in the City of Redlands. As illustrated in the table, the proposed project has very similar development standards to previously-approved Specific Plan projects for small-lot residential development. While the Heritage Specific Plan is larger in acreage, the proposed project has less density, and will also provide slightly larger front and rear setbacks than the other projects.
- Specific Plan No. 55, located on the south side of East Fern Ave. between La Verne St. and Sonora St.
- Specific Plan No. 56, located on the south side of Orange Ave. between Kansas St. and Tennessee St.
- Specific Plan No. 57, located at the Southeast corner of Iowa St./Orange Ave.
Table A: Comparison of Specific Plans
||Heritage Specific Plan (proposed)
||Specific Plan No. 55 ("Citrus Collection")
||Specific Plan No. 56 ("Orangewood Classics")
||Specific Plan No. 57
||Single Family Residences
||Single Family Residences
||Single Family Residences
||Single Family Residences
|| 37.2 acres
|| 5.28 acres
|| 4.91 acres
|| 8.86 acres
|Number of Lots
|| 5.7 units per acre
|| 9.66 units per acre
|| 7.65 units per acre
|| 8.5 units per acre
|| 3,375 to 9,345 sq. ft.
|| 2,984 to 3,767 sq. ft. lots
|| 1,917 to 2,752 sq. ft. lots
|| 2,952 to 3,888 sq. ft.
|Minimum Lot Width
|| 40 feet
|| 36 feet
|| 27 feet
|| 36 feet
|Minimum Lot Depth
|| 65 feet
|| 75 feet
|| 71 feet
|| 75 feet
|Maximum Building Height
|| 2 stories, 32 ft.
|| 2-1/2 stories or 35 feet
|| 2 stories of 25 feet
|| 2-1/2 stories or 35 feet
|Front: 10 feet to dwelling, 18 feet for garages
Side: 5 feet for interior &
10 feet for corner lots
Rear: 10 feet
Front: 5 feet
Side: 4 feet
Rear: 5 feet
|Front: 6 feet
Side: 2 feet
Rear: 7 feet
Front: 5 feet
Side: 4 feet (0 feet for Garage)
Rear: 5 feet
|Common Landscaped Area
|| 13.17% of Project Site
|| 9% of Project Site
|| 25.8% of Project Site
|| 15% of Project Site
Additional detailed discussion of the project’s consistency with the development standards, and a comprehensive review of the Specific Plan's architecture, landscaping and open space, fencing and walls, signage, circulation, and grading is contained in the Planning Commission Staff Report (see Attachment K, pp. 7-9).
F) Tentative Tract Map
Residential Lot Design: The project proposes to subdivide the property into 207 single-family lots that will range in size from 3,375 square-feet up to 9,345 square-feet. The lot width ranges from 40 feet to 122 feet wide, and lot depth ranges from 65 feet to 138 feet. In the proposed design, lots are placed side-by-side along curvilinear streets. Serious consideration was also given to the close proximity of the high school to the north across Pioneer Avenue (i.e., there are no access points along Pioneer Avenue that might affect high school pedestrian access or vehicle traffic). The overall concept utilizes small lots for more efficient use of space and infrastructure (see Tentative Tract Map in Attachment B).
Open Space Lots: The tentative map includes seven (7) lettered lots for park, landscape, and stormwater improvements. As noted above, the smaller lot configurations allow for more open space to provide common recreational areas and landscape buffers. The site plan is characterized by a large recreation park (Lot E) at the center of the project. There is a linear landscaped paseo (Lot C) with a walking trail that provides connectivity from the southeast quadrant of the site to the central park, and the rear yards of Lots 91 through 110 will abut the paseo.
G) Socio-Economic Cost/Benefit Study
In accordance with the provisions of the Principles of Management Development within the Redlands General Plan, the project was required to undergo a Socio-Economic Cost Benefit study (Attachment L-1). The study recommends that the project will not create an unmitigable physical blight or overburden public services in the community because project design features as well as mitigation measures described in the Initial Study/Mitigated Negative Declaration, and incorporated in the Socio-Economic Cost Benefit Study and Conditions of Approval will reduce effects to a less than significant level. In addition, the project will result in a positive annual revenue/cost ratio of 1.72, with annual residential revenues anticipated to be approximately $265,358 to the City upon project completion and annual ongoing costs of approximately $150,892. This results in an annual positive balance of approximately $114,466 (or ratio +1.72).
H) Rezoning Prior Agricultural Land to Higher Density than Residential Estate (R-E)
Policy 4.40s of the Redlands 1995 General Plan was established by Measure “U” and limits residential density to R-E, Residential Estate standards for any land that was in active agricultural production on November 3, 1986, regardless of zoning. The R-E zoning district has a minimum lot size of 14,000 square-feet, and a maximum density of 3 units per acre. The City Council is authorized to approve rezoning to higher densities with a 4/5 vote of the total authorized membership of the City Council, upon the making of mandatory findings. These findings have been addressed further in the analysis, below.
Findings for Socio-Economic Cost/Benefit Study
1. The project not create unmitigated physical blight within the City, or overburden public services, including without limitation the sufficiency of police and fire protection.
The Project will not create significant unmitigatable physical blight in the City of Redlands (“City”) or overburden public services, including without limitation police and fire protection services, because the mitigation measures for environmental impacts, described in the study, have been added to the project as Conditions of Approval.
The Project provides improvements to blend in with and enhance the surrounding community through the use of landscaped buffers along the public right-of-way, residences with architectural enhancement along all public right-of-ways, decorative fencing and a masonry perimeter wall, the maintenance of open space, and the planting of new trees on the Project site.
As determined in the Socio-Economic Cost/Benefit Study, annually, the Project will provide an annual “new net” revenue of $265,358 to the City upon occupancy, and annual ongoing costs of approximately $150,892. This equates to a revenue/cost ratio of a positive factor of 1.72. For every dollar it spends, the City will receive $1.72 in revenue. Because the Project will expand the City’s economic base by increasing property tax revenues, and provide for the development of new housing within the City; provide the infrastructure necessary to meet Project needs in an efficient and cost effective manner; and place an emphasis on design and landscaping, the City finds that the Project will not create unmitigatable physical blight within the City or overburden public services, including without limitation police and fire protection services.
Regional public infrastructure has been previously installed for the neighboring streets. The Project developer will make improvements to facilitate implementation of the Project, including the widening of roads along the project frontage. The Project would provide connections to existing City infrastructure. Utilities, less than 66KV, will be placed underground. The Project developer is required to fund its fair share allocation of any necessary public infrastructure associated with development of the Project.
2. The benefit of the development project to the City outweighs the any direct cost to the City that may result.
The Socio-Economic Cost/Benefit Study demonstrates that, annually, the Project will generate “new net” revenues of approximately $265,358 and approximately $150,892 in cost and have a positive balance of $114,466 (or ratio +1.72). For every dollar the City spends in providing services to the Project, the City will receive $1.72 in “new net” revenue. The Project would provide for the development of 207 new single family residences. Schools will be enhanced with the payment of school fees. Further, with the additional revenue provided to the City through increased property tax assessment, and the payment of development impact fees, indirect funding will be provided for cultural enhancements, downtown district enhancements, park enhancements, public safety (Police and Fire) enhancements, and traffic enhancements. The applicant has also accepted a condition of approval to work with the Cultural Arts Commission to provide public art that reflects the heritage of the City within the project site, funded by the developer at a cost of up to $15,000.
Findings for Measure U Rezoning of Prior Agricultural Land
1. There are substantial and overriding economic or social benefits to the City and its residents and taxpayers from the proposed density increase.
Under the existing zoning designation, the East Valley Corridor Specific Plan contains goals and policies aimed at preserving agricultural uses within the East Valley Corridor as long as this type of land use remains realistic and financially feasible. As continued agricultural production on the site has been determined to be infeasible in the long term, through the removal of the remaining citrus groves in 2018, the conversion of the site to development would be consistent with the EVCSP’s intent.
The additional 207 units would substantially add to the tax revenue accruing to the City that helps fund infrastructure and public services, which is a direct economic benefit to the City, particularly because the project would connect to existing infrastructure in the project area and would significantly improve the infrastructure through street widening, new curbs, gutters and sidewalks, roadway striping, a non-potable water line, and new street lights. As part of the project, the developer will also pay development impact fees for transportation and other infrastructure, as well as police, fire, parks and open space, and for the library.
From a social benefit standpoint, the project will include common open space through numerous pocket parks, a paseo, and a large central park for gathering, recreation and socialization of project residents and the increase density benefits additional persons than would occur if only 111 single family homes were built.
In addition, the construction of new homes on small lots provides to the variety of housing types and affordability levels in the City of Redlands, which is consistent with the policies contained within the City’s General Plan.
2. The proposed density increase will not cause adverse environmental impacts, either individually or cumulatively, directly or indirectly.
The project has been analyzed through the drafting of an Initial Study/Mitigated Negative Declaration, with 14 mitigation measures that have been incorporated as Conditions of Approval, referencing technical studies prepared for the project, to ensure the project will not have a significant impact on the environment, either individually or cumulatively, directly or indirectly.
3. The proposed density increase will not convert viable agricultural land to non-agricultural uses.
The proposed density increase would not convert viable agricultural land to non-agricultural uses. The area surrounding the project site is becoming urbanized, with development to the north and east, an approved Concept Plan for commercial development to the south, and commercial zoned property located to the west. Aerial photograph indicates that the agricultural uses, which once utilized this area of the City, have been removed over time as citrus groves have become less economically viable. The IS/MND, Section II (regarding Agriculture and Forestry Resources), discusses that the loss of prime farmland at the site was evaluated in the 2035 General Plan Environmental Impact Report (EIR) in the larger context of the General Plan. This specific site is one of many locations identified in the General Plan EIR as having prime farmland and farmland of statewide importance that has a land use designation that would convert the property to non-agricultural use. The City adopted findings and a Statement of Overriding Considerations for the General Plan EIR. In addition, the conversion of this agricultural site was anticipated by the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) prepared for the East Valley Corridor Specific Plan, which evaluated the impacts to Agriculture and adopted a Statement of Overriding Consideration, as well. Therefore, the increase in density from 3.0 units per acre to 5.7 units per acre will not convert viable agricultural lands to non-agricultural uses.
4. The proposed density increase will not have a growth-inducing effect on other property.
The subject property abuts an area of designated in the City’s General Plan as Low Density Residential, with the same 0-6 unit per acre density, to the east and would be considered a continuation of this same designation. The property is surrounded by urban development with a high school to the north, developed residential as well as open space and commercially designated property to the east, and commercially designated property to the south and west. As such, the density increase is not expected to have any growth-inducing effect on other property, as there are no residentially designated properties adjacent to the project site that haven’t already been developed.
5. The resulting use will be compatible with uses on adjacent land.
The project has been designed with compatibility in mind, both with the existing residential uses to the east, the high school to the north, and the commercial area, through the use of landscaped buffers, attractive decorative screen walls, and a focus on pedestrian connectivity. The development of Citrus Valley High School within a commercially zoned area changed the context of the area, and residential uses adjacent to the high school would be a compatible use. The design of the project as a small-lot subdivision provides a more urbanized character over traditional single-family residential development, in a way that can serve as a transition between the traditional single family developments to the east and northeast, and commercial developments to the south and west.
6. The proposed density increase will not require substantial expansion of public infrastructure, facilities or services.
The project is located adjacent to existing development and would connect and enhance the existing infrastructure in the area and would not require substantial infrastructure improvements to accommodate project demands. This area is currently served by water, sewer, electrical, gas and telephone infrastructure. The developer would be required to pay the appropriate development impact fees for transportation and infrastructure improvements as well as school fees, and development impact fees for public safety, parks and open spaces and the library. These developer impact fees represent the new development’s fair share of planned facilities and are not intended to address any needed facilities required to serve existing development. Therefore, the additional residential density would not require substantial expansion of public infrastructure, facilities or services.
Findings for Tentative Tract Map
The following findings contained in RMC Section 17.07.070 pertain to tentative tract maps.
1. The proposed map is consistent with the general plan or any applicable specific plan, or other applicable provisions of this code.
The proposed map will be consistent with the General Plan, upon approval of the General Plan amendment changing the land use designation from Commercial to Low Density Residential. This land use designation allows for 0-6 units per acre and the project has been designed at 5.7 units per acre. The tentative tract map is also consistent with the policies contained within the General Plan, which encourages small-lot subdivisions. The proposed map will be consistent with the specific plan, processed concurrently, as the map implements the specific plan and meets all the specific plan’s development standards. The proposed map will also be consistent with the provisions of the Redlands Municipal Code.
2. The site is physically suitable for the type of development.
The project site is physically suitable for the type of development. The site has a relatively flat grade with a very gradual 2 percent fall towards the west over distance, and is large enough at 37.2 acres to subdivide into 207 residential lots and 7 lettered lots and incorporate on-site circulation. On-site and off-site improvements proposed as part of the project’s design will ensure the property is consistent with adjacent developments and mitigate potential impacts to traffic and other environmental factors to a less than significant level.
3. The site is physically suitable for the proposed density of development.
The maximum density allowed, upon approval of the General Plan Amendment to change the underlying designation to Low Density Residential, would be six (6) units per acre. The project is designed at 5.7 units per acre. The project site is relatively flat in topography, and does not include the creation of residential lots on land with slopes exceeding 15%. As such, the site is physically suitable for the density of development proposed.
4. The design of the subdivision or the proposed improvements are not likely to cause substantial environmental damage or substantially and avoidably injure fish or wildlife or their habitat.
A project-specific “Biological Resources Constraints Analysis” and “San Bernardino Kangaroo Rat Survey” were prepared by LSA Associates, Inc., revealed no special-status species were observed during the site survey conducted on the project site, and a trapping study did not capture any San Bernardino Kangaroo Rat. Additionally, the project site is not located within designated critical habitat for any listed plant or wildlife species, and is not located within any sensitive plant communities. The Initial Study/Mitigated Negative Declaration lists two mitigation measures for Biological Resources, regarding pre-construction surveys for sensitive species. As such, the project is not likely to cause substantial environmental damage or substantially and avoidably injure fish or wildlife or their habitat.
5. The design of the subdivision or the type of improvements are not likely to cause serious public health problems.
The design of the subdivision and the type of improvements are not likely to cause any serious public health problems. An Air Quality/Greenhouse Gas Emissions Technical Memorandum was prepared by Michael Baker International for project and the project will be required to comply with all local, state, and federal laws addressing air quality impacts. The memorandum found that the project would cause a less than significant impact to air quality. The nature of the residential use does not involve any substantial amounts of hazardous materials, and would not cause serious public health problems.
6. The design of the subdivision or the type of improvements will not conflict with easements, acquired by the public at large, for access through or use of, property within the proposed subdivision.
The project will improve access in the immediate vicinity by installing public improvements such as sidewalks along Pioneer Avenue, Texas Street, and San Bernardino Avenue. Additionally, public streets and pedestrian access will be provided throughout the project site. The design of the subdivision will not conflict with any easements on or through the proposed subdivision.
7. That pursuant to California Government Code Section 66474.4, of the Subdivision Map Act, the land is not subject to a contract entered into pursuant to the California Land Conservation Act of 1965 (“Williamson Act”).
The property is not under Williamson Act Contract. As there are a number of existing non-agricultural developments in the area, and the surrounding undeveloped land consists largely of residential or commercial zoning districts, the transition into a residential use represents a logical infill urban development.