I joined YIMBY

So, in a bit of personal news, I joined the local YIMBY group. It’s a political group that fights for more housing.

California is currently in a housing crisis, which particularly impacts my generation because we move around a lot so we aren’t as protected by rent control. Also, we spent all our money on avocado toast. Many cities in California will welcome large companies that provide many jobs, but they refuse to let developers build housing near those jobs, leading to long commutes with large carbon footprints, from overpriced apartments in neighborhoods that don’t have as much political power to block housing development, because the older residents are poor. We end up displacing those poor residents and contributing to gentrification, all because the wealthier city where we work decided that if they built housing it would change the character of the neighborhood. It’s a complicated problem, but the solution must involve new housing.

I’m trying not to argue about it though. The important thing is not to persuade people, but to bring it to the attention of people who already agree with us and say, join our fight! This is a bit difficult since this is a blog with an international readership and housing is a very local issue. Nonetheless, housing shortages are a common political issue in many cities of the world, and you might check this map to see if there’s a YIMBY organization near you. Simply joining an organization makes politicians pay attention, but you might find other ways to contribute as well. And even if you’re not in California, the SF YIMBY group is a great informational resource that may help you understand your local situation.

Just one more thing. My understanding is that earlier iterations of the YIMBY group were less organized, and often fought for housing wherever developments would be proposed. Which meant, unfortunately, supporting developments that would displace poor residents in historically redlined districts. The group is more organized and wiser now, and we understand that we’re supposed to be pro-housing, not pro-displacement. Ideally housing development would occur near the jobs, usually in wealthier neighborhoods where developers don’t even try to build housing because of zoning restrictions. It’s a difficult problem.


  1. says

    How has your experience with the group been so far? Do they seem to do any effective action? I’ve sort of been feeling like I should get more involved with some sort of local Yimby-esque movements after finding that at least some of my neighbors (in a relatively underutilized area literally on top of a major transit station) are the type to tape stereotypically self-centered NIMBY protest letters to my door – I would actually prefer to have far more housing options available and feel like I should try to at least think about doing something to counteract the kind of nimby campaigning that I see and am frustrated with from others in my neighborhood.

  2. says

    I’m pretty impressed by the degree of organization of SF YIMBY. They have a full time staff member, an office, and a Slack. And if you check out the calendar, they have an “Intro to YIMBY” event on the fourth monday of every month. There’s a large network of groups, including one for the east bay (which I’m told is more socialist), and one that focuses on the state level, and one that focuses on suing cities.

    My participation is limited, and I’m mostly helping with the data work group. Even so, I hear people talking about a lot of direct action, like going to council meetings, publishing articles, and campaigning for candidates.

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