Bet you didn’t know Upland lost their posterior in court again on Tuesday, August 25th, with Judge David Cohn siding with residents again by saying, “The city’s argument is misplaced,” did ya? His legal decision is below. Now the city council is holding their second specially called meeting this week on Wednesday, August 26th @ 7:30 PM, to amend their ballot initiative language known as Measure Q, for a third time. That’s because the city is now forced to put the question to the voters on the November 3rd ballot, after Judge Cohn on May 16th, 2018, refused to validate the city’s original intent of selling 12% of the Memorial Park without asking Upland residents jack swat. This now 2.5 year saga is finally going to be decided by you (the voters) on November 3rd. Come on inside this edition of the Upland Report, to learn about what this means to you and everything you need to know about Measure Q!
So this is all starting to stink like yesterday’s fish dinner, to a whole lot of Upland residents in the know. What started off as San Antonio Hospital crying to the city about their lack of parking and the hospital’s only remedy to this was to purchase 12% of Memorial Park to build a parking lot, coupled with the city’s greed, has turned into a highly charged political juggernaut and now, it’s finally all up to you. For the last 2.5 years and ever since March 26th, 2018, we’ve been sold a bill of goods consisting of a narrative that should the park land sale be finalized, the hospital would be building only a parking lot on 4.2 acres of Memorial Park, to fully resolve their parking shortfall problems.
Only to find out on July 27th, 2020, in a 3-hour public hearing that can be seen here, that the hospital is also planning to build new medical office buildings and expand their brick and mortar footprint on public park land property, even further. What happens after this, when the HOSPITAL STILL HAS INADEQUATE PARKING PROBLEMS because they keep building more and more medical office buildings? Many believe the hospital will just keep coming back to the low hanging fruit supply, which is what’s left of Memorial Park, until there’s no more park left.
Apparently, that’s exactly what’s been happening over the years according to the Sentinel’s historical article entitled, “Efforts To Reduce Upland’s Memorial Park Have Been Constant And Yet Continue,” HERE. Kind of reminds me of what slowly happened to the “Giving Tree” in Shel Silverstien’s famous children’s book. Since this is a children’s park and they can’t vote, let’s make sure this decision is weighed very heavily, so we do what’s best for them.
There are websites and citizen’s groups which explain these complex issues far greater than I do, so I will link them below.
I will also include the latest lawsuit filed on August 18th, which was heard in Judge Cohn’s courtroom on Tuesday, August 25th, plus, Cohn’s legal decision too, below. Finally, I read a very compelling article which is a fresh perspective about why residents may want to VOTE NO, ON MEASURE Q ON NOVEMBER 3RD by resident Ken Mays, which is also below.After Judge Cohn’s latest decision on 8/25, the city council has just announced their second specially called meeting this week, which is scheduled for Wednesday night, August 26th at 7:30PM. Their first specially called meeting about this same issue was just this past Monday, August 24th and can be seen, HERE.
LIVE STREAM THE WED, AUG 26TH MEETING @ 7:30 PM, HERE! But if the city doesn’t record and broadcast this meeting which is always a high probability with specially called last minute meetings then District 3 Candidate for City Council Carlos Garcia, will be on hand to live stream it on Facebook at the link, HERE!
The latest lawsuit filed on Aug 18th is below:
Judge’s decision from Aug 25th hearing is below:
So now, without further adieu, let’s set the tone for Ken Mays’ outstanding article and we thank him very much for his submission.
THE PARKS OF UPLAND…
“Parklands are a public treasure! Be they on the Federal, State, County or City level is immaterial. They are a precious commodity and of limited quantity.
Parks are the exclusive property of “WE, the People”.
Parks are essential to the quality of life and provide both a healthy and diverse environment, which is critical to both the physical and emotional health of the people. In addition to those benefits to humans, parks provide a sanctuary for a wide variety of plant and animal life as well.
The benefits of parks are universal and all encompassing.
From insect to bird, from grass blade to flower petal, from brambly bushes to broad leaf trees, and in Upland’s case, from rabbit to coyote with a bevy of squirrels and raccoons in between. All exist in a careful balance with humanity.
In 1975, in recognition of that universal importance, the California State Legislature enacted California Government Code section 66477, commonly called the “Quimby Act.”
That provision in State law sets a requirement that for each 1,000 people in a City a MINIMUM of THREE (3) acres of parkland be set aside PROTECTED and PROHIBITED from development for other use. This law also allows a city to set their own standard with a maximum of up to 5 acres per 1,000 persons being required.
Listed below are the parks owned by “we the people” of Upland and under the guardianship of the elected and appointed persons functioning under the collective term of the “City of Upland”. Additionally, since we are now in the era of District voting and representation, I have grouped these parks by District.
That was done to illustrate that even if the ratio of parkland to people, (3 acres per 1,000 persons) were applied on a District basis, NOT A SINGLE DISTRICT would meet the requirements of the “Quimby Act”, including District-4 which has both the most park acreage and contains the largest of all the parks, namely Memorial Park.
At one time the City was considering developing a 57-acre sports park in District-1 as part of a large 99-acre project which involved both the Cities of Upland and Claremont.
That project, titled Sycamore Hills never came to fruition.
However, if that weren’t bad enough, look at the City’s total.
A collective 116.9 acres for a population of 77,000. A population amount that will only increase once the 2020 Census is tallied AND the sale of those housing developments currently in progress are completed.
However, as it now exists, at the 3-acre per 1000-person ratio, Upland is required to have by the “Quimby Act” a minimum of 231-acres of parkland.
In other words, the City of Upland is barely at 50% of its requirement. Dropping even further should the proposed sale be consummated, (116.9 – 4.6 = 112.3).
HERE TODAY, GONE FOREVER…
Save Upland’s future VOTE NO ON MEASURE Q.
While the “Quimby Act” does provide developers and builders the means to relieve themselves of the responsibility to provide parkland through the payment of an “in-lieu fee”, such payments are not an act of total “absolution” for the City at large.
In fact, this “payment” has become so common place as to be considered nearly a “standard practice.” For one thing it is technically not a fee the developer pays at all. The fee is simply added to the cost of the unit and ultimately paid by the buyer.
Listed below are those residential projects currently in various stages of development in the City of Upland.
However, and perhaps more importantly in this context, this proliferation of building has resulted in a higher and higher population density, with virtually little to no yard space for these units, including those listed as a “single detached residence”.
This so-called “Stack & Pack” building trend can be seen popping up all over the city. Even in the midst of more traditional housing areas. Projects such as the displacement of the old Upland Tennis Club on 15th Street, and the apartment project at “The Colonies”.
Currently there are two legal battles brewing over two of the aforementioned development projects.
One of which was just announced on August 15th, 2020 concerning the 65-unit Villa Serena project, (#2).
While this suit principally concerns itself with a reversal by the Upland City Council in April of the denial of the project by the Planning Commission in February of this year. A denial that was issued over concerns about destruction of wildlife habitat, noise, traffic, drainage and blocking views of the mountains.
Besides the issue of wildlife and the use by people for decades, this project also seems at odds with the City’s General (development) Guide relative to its section on preserving the “Community Character”, (CC). Specifically,
“Policy CC-1.6 View Protection. Direct private development to enhance public view corridors of the San Gabriel Mountains, where feasible*. These views are an integral part of the City’s geographic space and provide a unique sense of place for Upland as a foothill community.”
Now it appears another legal battle of sorts has erupted between Upland and the City of Claremont over a project called the “Commons”, (#10). With 57 units planned for Claremont’s 6.3 acres of the project and 48-units planned for the 3-acres situated in Upland. What all that does is make the park acre-person ratio disparity even worse than it is now.
With no additional parkland and no yards to speak of for children and pets to exercise and play in, these current, and many past projects, has only served to make the disparity between the acre-to-person requirement only worse. A situation that makes the recent attempt to “trade” a portion of Cabrillo park even that more treacherous.
Fortunately, that deal was stopped by the outcry of Upland residents. For while it would have resulted in gaining a 44-acre Sports Complex in District-1 it would have meant a substantial loss of parkland in District-3 and also would have resulted in the loss of 32-acres of undeveloped land in the Sycamore Hills area already owned by the City.
An area about which the City Council had deemed to be “…not appropriate, convenient or necessary for park purposes.”
Well, like Memorial Park and all the others for that matter, it is also here for future generations to come. Such an attitude also makes that sale of those 10 acres of land formerly known as Pioneer Park, a haunting ghost of administrations past.
It also makes what Parkland Upland does have even more precious and valuable than it ever was.
PRACTICE WHAT YOU PREACH…
As previously stated, the “in-lieu fee” payments made by a developer does not serve as an “absolution” for the past behavior by the City.
Nor do they absolve the City of any responsibility for the parks now.
In fact, given both the current status of Upland’s parkland, the City’s responsibility is even greater. For it is responsible to preserve parkland for posterity. Not just those who are here today. In short, City officials are both the caretakers of the present and the guardians of the future.
In recognition of that greater responsibility and to direct and regulate the City’s responsibility in this matter, the City established a General (development) Plan.
Dating back as far as 1982 that plan was to serve as a…“integrated “constitution” for growth and preservation in the City.”
One of the first professed philosophies, called “Elements” throughout this document is titled “The Community Character and Urban Design Element”.
The stated purpose of this “Element” is to…
“preserve and build upon Upland’s sense of place and unique identity”; to guide the character of future development, and by protecting important aspects of the natural and built environment that define the image and spirit of Upland.”
“This element gets to the heart of Upland’s vision statement, which is to preserve and enhance Upland’s small town community character and the attributes that evoke a unique sense of place…(including) beautiful and safe neighborhoods…quality parks and open spaces, a scenic and natural environment….”
Perhaps this statement is the defining clause for Upland’s moto, “The City of Gracious Living.” Once exemplified by the spacious yards and diverse landscapes of past residential projects and anchored in the example that is Memorial Park.
I think that were one to review almost all of the projects previously listed and compare them to the “Elements” in the referred section of the “Development Plan”, one would find these projects to be IN DIRECT CONTRADICTION TO THE CITY’S OWN STATED GOALS AND OBJECTIVES.
And that is according to a Plan updated as recently as 2015.
Overall, the City’s General Plan encompasses many topics and areas. Of the Plan’s 9 Chapters, one of them is Chapters 6 – “Open Space -Conservation Element.”
Relative to the “Goals, Policies and Actions” sections of that chapter you will find the following areas of concern:
- Open Space and Natural Resources
- Parks and Recreation
- Air Quality
- Greenhouse Gas Emissions
- Non-Renewable Energy
- Mineral Resources
While I recommend that you review all the Plan, you may find item #2, “Parks and Recreation” the most pertinent in this instance.
In that section you will find a series of statements called “Open Space and Conservation Elements”, (OSC) which were developed to regulate and direct the City’s actions in each of the areas listed.
Relative to “Open Space & Natural Resources” the very first Goal of the City, OSC-1, is claimed to be,
“Upland’s natural resources such as open space, wildlife and vegetation, are protected and enjoyed as limited and valuable resources and integral parts of a sustainable environment.”
Relative to the section on “Parks & Recreation” you will also find the following policies:
#OSC-3.1 Park Preservation. Preserve existing park space and discourage the use of parkland for non-park related uses or facilities.
#OSC-3.2 Existing Parks. Upgrade and rehabilitate existing parks as necessary to meet the changing needs of the community.
#OSC-3.3 New Parks and Recreational Facilities. Ensure that the provision of parks and recreational facilities and services keeps pace with population growth…
#OSC-3.4 Underserved Areas. Prioritize the development of new parks in underserved areas and low-income neighborhoods.
#OSC-3.5 Quimby Act. Continue to require residential subdivisions to provide at least 3 acres of parkland per 1,000 residents or pay an in-lieu fee or some combination thereof, pursuant to Section 66477 of the California Government Code (the Quimby Act).
NONE DARE CALL IT PROGRESS…
However one defines “progress,” going backward is not it.
For several decades now, park acreage and the land available for park use has steadily declined.
The imbalance between park-acreage and population is already at a critical mass level.
Maybe even to the point of no return. A point which will only become more certain with developers gobbling up more and more of the available land and the sale of parkland Upland already owns.
But, one thing is certain; IT CAN BECOME EVEN WORSE.
As for that “parcel” in Memorial Park being “discontinued and abandoned”.
Is that term, “abandoned” being used as a sneaky ploy to get the people of Upland to “legally” relinquish ownership and control of that parcel to city officials so that it can then be sold to whoever they want?
Already we are experiencing a sort of “seller’s remorse” with how the sale of parkland just a few short decades ago has contributed to a steady erosion in the park acre-per person ratio.
And why a sale to begin with? The City already leases out some areas of the park now. Why hasn’t a lease agreement been explored with this parcel? Maybe even a long-term lease with the hospital building a shared underground parking facility with a “splash-pad” on top for residents to enjoy. However, none of that can be explored unless the people of Upland retain ownership of that property.
As for San Antonio Regional Hospital’s, (SARH) “plea” for a “yes” vote; they have alternative lands in the immediate area on which they can develop parking and/or anything else they may need. They are not solely dependent on this chunk of Memorial Park.
In fact, as recently as last month (July 2020), in an open session of a City Council meeting, a representative of the SARH revealed that they, (SARH) are already talking about using the parcel for purposes other than the previously promised parking lot.
They want it because it’s the cheapest and easiest way for them to do what they want.
As for park improvements, the City of Upland is not as “desperate” for that SARH money as the SARH and others make it sound.
In fact, as stated in Upland’s budget for 2020-2021, on line 421 listed as “Park Acquisition & Development Fund”, the City has a balance of $10,400,370.00. Besides, an upfront lease fee with a monthly lease payment AND park improvement stipulations can all be part of a negotiated deal, and not some ballot ultimatum.
So, the money that SARH and others claim to be a “critical” issue, ISN’T actually all that critical.”