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November 6, 2018 — California General Election
Local

City of RedlandsCandidate for Member, City Council, District 1

Photo of Eric Whedbee

Eric Whedbee

Video Producer / Editor
187 votes (4.69%)
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Housing the Homeless // Housing First Approach
  • Affordable Housing // Municipal Housing, Mixed Income Dwelling
  • Incremental growth that enhances the well-being of the poor and working class through a variety of means including but not limited to better environmental, commercial, and infrastructure decisions.

Experience

Experience

Profession:Video Producer / Editor
Video Production Manager, REVShare, a division of Cannella Media, inc. (2013–current)

Education

Université Concordia, Montreal, QC Master of Arts, Film Studies (2012)

Community Activities

Political Organizer, DSA - Inland Empire (2016–current)

Biography

Born and raised in Redlands, Educated at Portland State University, OR (B.A.) and Université Concordia, QC (M.A.).

Working full time as a video producer. Paying 40% of income to rent and 48% to student loans. I understand the struggles of those trying to afford the increasing rents in Redlands. After political organizing in the Inland Empire, I decided to turn my efforts to the local level and provide my civil service to the City Council of Redlands, a town that I love and a place I have lived most my life in.

Political Beliefs

Political Philosophy

Above all, Eric is running to serve the people in Redlands. All people. He is committed to envisioning and working towards a transformative politics that shifts power from capital to the people of Redlands.

We have the opportunity to make the city we want. This means mobilizing people like you and me to think about the future we want and the future we need.

Housing

Eric recognizes that housing is a human right. Many people, including military vets, in our neighborhood are suffering and living on the streets in Redlands. Meanwhile, the cost of housing in Redlands is on the rise and many are unable to afford steep housing costs. Eric believes we should work under a Housing First strategy to end homelessness and is a supporter of cooperative housing as a way to empower tenants and alleviate the poor. Imagine the societal transformation that could occur if we were to house (not merely shelter) those in need. For Eric this is a moral issue that we have an obligation to pursue. 

Environment and Infrastructure

Continued attention must be given to the environment and infrastructure of Redlands. So much of what people love about Redlands is related to our city's environment. It's a major component of the "quality of life" Redlanders so often speak of. Clean water for our townspeople is essential and so is the the preservation of natural spaces. Redlands is currently working hard to improve the roads in town and Eric will support these efforts. However, greater attention should be given to alternative modes of transportation. Redlands prides itself as the host of the Redlands Bicycle Classic and should become the leader in smart bicycle infrastructure design and a model for communities in our region. 

Public services and public safety

In a town where crime has risen alongside police spending, we need to re-evaluate the strategy of our public services that are meant to protect our safety. Eric believes that we should look toward restorative justice and harm reduction models rather than incarceration. Expansion of law enforcement, both in terms of officers and technology, offer a false sense of security and ultimately do not benefit the people, especially those who are most vulnerable in our community.   

Freedom

For many in our community freedom is an important concept. When basic needs such as gender equality, racial equality, economic security, good food, health care, and a good and safe home are covered it's only then that we become truly free. We become free from the fear of others around us, we are able to pursue creative and rich lives, we have freedom over our own bodies, we don't have to be worried about how we can afford to have children or afford a place to live. All of these concerns are lifted and freedom arises.

Seniors

Seniors and people with disabilities often face similar struggles as to those who are living near the poverty line but require even more care and community support. Eric recognizes the right of seniors to maintain a dignified life into their old age, free from economic hardship, social isolation, and discrimination in employment and credit. Sufficient income, housing, health care, medication, and access to social services must be guaranteed to all elders.

Labor Unions

The working class is essential for Redlands to prosper in years to come. We all prosper when workers prosper, therefore we must ensure the rights and decency of working conditions for the working class. Eric values the work labor unions do and their role in our community.  Labor Unions are a major part of the Inland Empire, and we should take pride in this. Eric wants to unite all working class folks. Workers are people who actually work for a living as opposed to the people who skim off the profits generated by those below them. Blue collar or white collar, of various races and sexual orientations we are united by our labor and choose to stand up to the elites that hold so much wealth and power in our community. 

Development

Land development in Redlands is an important topic. Redlanders value the preservation of our historical past but simultaneously look forward to what Redlands could become. Too often poor development choices were implemented in Redlands resulting in disruptive warehouses, vacant malls, and removal of green spaces. With more people wanting to call Redlands their home, development should be thoughtfully pursued with a greater respect for the our townspeople and the environment. Redeveloping abandoned spaces and building high density commercial centers would be a step in the right direction. 

immigration

While immigration is not immediately a municipal issue, Eric recognizes the concerns citizens have expressed at recent city council meetings concerning the passage of SB54. SB54 is state law and Redlands is obliged to uphold this bill. Furthermore Eric supports the bill on moral grounds. Loving one another is fundamental to our identity as members of this community. 

 

Position Papers

Housing is Not a Commodity

Summary

Housing and Prop 10

 

 

 

 

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Housing: Justice, Affordability, and Prop 10

This November, California has the opportunity to repeal the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act with voting in favor of Prop 10 “Local Rent Control Initiative.” This is an important moment for those of us who rent. Costa-Hawkins was a blow to renters- it prevented cities and counties to enact policy that was fair to renters. With the repeal of this law, the people of Redlands would have the ability to make policy that would set reasonable limits on rent increases on single family homes, condos and buildings built after 1995.

Back in January, the editorial staff of the Redlands Daily Facts argued that rent-control was “Magical Thinking” even while acknowledging the benefits of rent control for renters. 

Their argument in the end does not offer any solution for those struggling with their rent. One must assume that they believe that if you can’t afford to live in Redlands that’s just too bad and you got to go. I would presume that the editorial team’s position falls into the “Not in My Back Yard” (NIMBY) camp. NIMBYs don’t want to see additional home development in their neighborhoods.  On the other end of the spectrum you have “Yes in My Back Yard” (YIMBY) folks who want to build housing at all income levels to address the issues of housing supply. If we trust the Redlands Daily Facts’ argument that rent control leads to lack of housing supply one might find themselves siding with YIMBY to expand the housing market. And while it may address a supply and demand issue, I feel like we need a better solution.

Housing is not a commodity

First we must cut the tie between housing and the market. If we believe that everyone has the right to a good home, we must stop looking at housing as a commodity. By treating housing as a commodity we subject ourselves and our neighbors to a distorted market that often excludes and expels poor and working class families from “prime locations” and away from their jobs.

If new housing  developed by corporations  will collect rents according to “market rates” I would reject the YIMBY position as well as NIMBY. What we need is what some have called PHIMBY or public housing in my back yard. YIMBY will not significantly improve the housing situation for low income people as it wouldn’t necessarily mean affordable homes would be constructed.

I believe what is best for Redlands is the production of subsidized, below-market-rate units while also using rent control as a way to protect renters. In a separate post I will examine the possibility of municipal housing in Redlands as a solution to the problem outlined above.

 

July 27, 2018  

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Municipal Housing

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Vote Eric Whedbee for Redlands City Council Member District 1

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The Case for Municipal Housing

Summary

So what can we do? We can start right away by preventing further development of luxury homes.

 

In the previous post I discussed the importance of voting yes for prop 10 in November. This legislation will give more autonomy to cities like Redlands. I also discussed the PHIMBY alternative to YIMBY and NIMBY as a path forward that will help our local housing situation. Since that post, I have heard from residents in Redlands about their thoughts regarding housing. Two things were clear, for those of us who rent, the rent is too high compared to our income and for those looking to grow their families and invest in a home to own, the housing market makes this largely unattainable for even higher wage earners in our neighborhood.

So what can we do? We can start right away by preventing further development of luxury homes. Take for example, a development that is planned for the donut hole of District 1, The Crossings . This development is being built on unincorporated land controlled by the county. While density and mixed retail and residential use are positive things, apartments are at market rate, at around $1500 per month for 1 bedroom yet the median household income in the surrounding area (our district) is $46,211. Of course, it’s even more difficult for a single person to afford rent so it’s no wonder why so many millennials are living with their parents. As you can see from the chart below, the share of more expensive properties has increased rapidly over a 15 year span.

 

Fortunately there is a path forward but it means that we need to reimagine what housing is. Housing is a basic need and should be treated as such. That’s why I’m a proponent of Municipal housing. Unlike older models of public housing in the US, we need to view municipal housing not as a last resort for the poor and the homeless but something that’s desirable for the many. Unlike section 8 housing that uss mean-testing, everyone would be eligible for municipal housing.

How do we pay for this project?

A housing researcher Peter Gowan has done a study on municipal housing (read the full report here for more a more detailed description of the plan) he explains in an article:

How would it work? Municipalities would borrow money, use the money to build housing, and then rent out the resulting units. The money could be borrowed from municipal bond markets or from the federal government at the Treasury rate. Additional funds could be secured through capital grants from the federal government that mirror the outlays of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program. The housing would mostly be built by construction companies, just as public buildings like libraries already are. The management of the building could be done in-house or through contracts with building management companies. Rents would be set high enough to at least cover costs, with some units rented at higher amounts than others based on income. Empty government-owned land should be used first, followed by redevelopment of blighted or abandoned buildings.

If Redlands were to construct housing under this model, not only could we get rent down to an affordable level, but in the long term a municipal housing authority could actually generate dividends that would further reducing rents and could be shared with the city to finance the next generation of municipal housing.

Homelessness in Redlands

Summary

Voters in Redlands are concerned about the increasing number of our neighbors who are living homeless in our town. Homelessness has been increasing and the way the city has responded is lacking in long term solutions. They support the Police Department’s “Positive Change, Not Spare Change” while acknowledging that that we have few long-term solutions to address the problem.

Voters in Redlands are concerned about the increasing number of our neighbors who are living homeless in our town. Homelessness has been increasing and the way the city has responded is lacking in long term solutions. They support the Police Department’s “Positive Change, Not Spare Change” while acknowledging that that we have few long-term solutions to address the problem. 

Homelessness is an economic issue. 

I laud the local charity groups and homeless services in the area, but one thing they are not set up to address is immediate need and that is permanent housing. That’s why I am a firm supporter of Housing First. Housing First means that our priority is to offer unconditional support for our struggling neighbors by first and foremost providing at little or no cost a place to live. A program like this could be funded via an HUD grant or perhaps a special fund is budgeted on the city level. Because housing may not be available immediately it is important to build and maintain emergency shelters and places of refuge or drop in centers. What is crucial here is that they offer complete barrier-free access and serve as a gateway to health care, social services and even provide access to something as simple as a shower. 

More policing is not the answer.

Finally, we must stop using the Police as a way to address homelessness. Submitting people without a home to the criminal justice system is not an effective response to this problem.  I would rather see mental health professionals engaged in local drop in centers address public issues and homelessness activists operate community outreach. 

 

With the right political will I know that we can reduce and work towards total elimination of homelessness in our town.

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