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Redlands City Council to consider changes in nonprofit support requests

Some nonprofits would be impacted more than others

Redlands City Council to consider changes to in-kind support policy. (Photo: MattGush from Getty Images)

UPDATE 03/21/24: Proposed changes to nonprofit in-kind support requests was removed from agenda by Mayor Eddie Tejeda during the March 19 City Council meeting. Read more about what led to the proposal being pulled here.

REDLANDS, Calif. — The Redlands City Council is set to discuss whether to limit in-kind support for community events put on by nonprofit organizations.

Why it matters: The proposed changes would limit most nonprofits to one in-kind request per year, with exceptions being made for organizations with a strong history in the community. The monthly downtown event Giving Sunday, organized by the nonprofit Stronger Together Now, prompted the question of whether there should be a limit on the number of times a nonprofit can request in-kind support. 

Details: On average, the city of Redlands approves 20-30 special events per year. These events include in-kind support and allocation of city resources, such as waiving reservation fees and assignment of personnel such as police, fire, and facilities.

Redlands' rich history of philanthropy and cultural engagement has led to a relatively high number of support requests, according to the city staff report.

In 2021, the City Council passed Resolution No. 8220, establishing a framework for assessing requests for in-kind support and the allocation of city resources for special events organized by nonprofit entities.

On Tuesday, March 19 the City Council will consider changes to the resolution. The amendments, spearheaded by Mayor Eddie Tejeda, would introduce additional criteria that nonprofit organizations must satisfy to qualify for in-kind support from the city.

The biggest change would be limiting the number of times a nonprofit may ask for support. If approved, nonprofits would be allowed just one in-kind support request per year, with the following organizations allowed two: Redlands Chamber of Commerce, Kiwanis Club of Redlands, Redlands 4th of July Committee, Redlands Bicycle Classic Inc., Downtown Redlands Artwalk, The Artlands Creative, and The Redlands Bowl Performing Arts Association.

Limiting the number of requests: Changes to the resolution have been prompted by recurring requests from Stronger Together Now, a Rialto-based nonprofit that serves Redlands and the Inland Empire. 

Over the last four months, the organization has been approved three times for $1,969 of in-kind support for its Giving Sunday events held at Ed Hales Park in downtown Redlands. 

The Sunday markets include community outreach, food vendors, live music, speakers, service organizations, and toiletries and food giveaways.

The requests have recently received pushed back. Members of the public have spoken out to disparage the organization's support of the LGBTQ+ community.

Most recently, at the March 5 City Council meeting, Council Member Mario Saucedo questioned how many of the vendors were from Redlands, how the 5th Street road closure impacts local businesses, and why the events are not held in other parts of the city, like North Redlands.

Saucedo was joined by Tejeda in opposition to the number of requests the organization makes, citing concerns over "event fatigue" for city employees.

Redlands resident Janelle Guerrero, owner & co-founder of Stronger Together Now, responded to Saucedo by outlining her organization's commitment to community service through youth empowerment, education, toy drives, and toiletries and food giveaways. She said that many of the vendors are from Redlands and all are in compliance with city permitting and health codes.  

"What more do you want from us?" Guerrero asked Saucedo during the March 5 meeting.

Mayor Pro Temp Paul Barich, Council Member Denise Davis, and Council Member Guzman Lowery all spoke in favor of continued support for the community organization.

Barich said he attended the Giving Sunday event in Ed Hales Park in February and called it a "nice little event."

Davis pointed to the events' alignment with the city's Strategic Plan for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

Guzman-Lowery was concerned that changes to the current policy would limit the community's access to "third spaces."

"Something that's really critical to think about, especially for my generation, is how impossible it is to find spaces that you can go and collectively gather with your community that doesn't cost you anything," said Guzman-Lowery.

The City Council approved Stronger Together Now's request at the March 5 meeting in a 4-1 vote with Tejeda dissenting.

Moving Forward: On Tuesday, March 19, the City Council will consider the amendment to Resolution 8220, changing the rules for how nonprofits can qualify for in-kind support. Details of the resolution are available in the agenda here

The City Council will also consider an in-kind request from Stronger Together Now for a Giving Sunday event on April 18.