FEB 2014 – President’s Article by Geoff Bonney

The Victorian House

Once again the citizens of Redlands are faced with another decision that will impact our pocket books.  And once again, we are looking at the infrastructure.  The issues this round are flood control, sidewalks, trees and parks.  The combination of time and growth has left lower areas including the downtown vulnerable to flooding and work is needed to reduce this risk.  Time has taken its toll on sidewalks and parks as well.

I know it is hard to be concerned about flooding when we are experiencing record drought, but we all know heavy rains have happened before and will happen again.  It is not a question of if but when.  In performing their due diligence, our City Council and Staff have researched this issue and are presenting information to the community for a decision.  As with all such repair projects,there are costs and benefits.  It is up to us to evaluate both.

Many of you are asking “When will these repairs end?”  We have already had repairs to water systems and roads.  At some point we will be caught up, right?  Look at it this way.  The City of Redlands is similar to the Victorian houses within.  Or Craftsman, Mid Modern, pick a style.  The fact is something is always wearing out.  Remember, our City just celebrated its 125th anniversary.  That means we are stuck with a lot of 125 year old parts.

In a Victorian house the homeowner must make decisions on which problem takes priority, weighing what is important to the overall stability of the structure vs what will improve the quality of the space the building provides.  The decision is not always as clear cut as it seems.

Ideally it would be nice to make a clean sweep and bring everything up to snuff at once.  But that is not possible with limited financial resources.  It comes with the territory.  The character and ambiance of the older homes has a price.

In the case of the City of Redlands, we are all the homeowners of this wonderful old house.  This makes things a bit more complicated.  Each of us has different priorities that will drive our decision on this issue.  The decision to replace the leaky window this year or ride it out a while longer will generate some debate.  Those next to the window will have stronger feelings in favor of repair than those on the other side of the house.

Our civic leaders and staff have worked hard to evaluate the proposed work on flood control, sidewalks, trees and parks, and have prepared information about the related costs and benefits for all to evaluate.  Your Redland Chamber of Commerce Board and Government Review Committee will meet with City Representatives on February 5th, 7:30 AM, to review the information and take a position on whether or not the additional cost to tax payers is in the overall best interest of the business community.  This is part of the City’s search for community input to help them decide if funding these improvements should be put on the November ballot.

To be clear, this is not an article in favor of or against the additional tax.  It is a plea to become informed and help guide your decision makers.  Those next to the leaky window should become familiar with the point of view of those on the other side of the house, and vice versa.  Just as the City Council is looking for feedback, so is your Chamber Board.  You are all welcome to attend the meeting with the City on February 5th at the Redlands Chamber of Commerce.  If you cannot attend please send your thoughts to the Chamber office at info@redlandschamber.org . We have a jewel of an old house, and we need to address these kinds of issues that come along with.  Ultimately it is all worth the effort.