Opinion

On housing, it’s YIMBY, not NIMBY

Densely packed housing in Long Beach, looking westward toward the harbor. (Photo: Sergey Novikov, via Shutterstock)

While there are many causes that have contributed to the state’s housing shortage, many people place at least part of the blame on a “not in my backyard” (NIMBY) philosophy. Everyone knows that more housing is needed, but they’d prefer that it was somewhere else. The new advocacy group YIMBY, however, is looking to change attitudes toward housing and changing laws to make housing more possible and more affordable.

What is YIMBY?
YIMBY is a recently founded statewide housing advocacy organization in California that works to address the housing crisis by updating and amending state laws. For instance, multifamily housing options like condos and apartments are banned in many areas of the state; amending the law to allow well-managed multi-unit housing will make room for more housing options.

YIMBY is a play on the older “NIMBY.” The latter meant “not in my backyard,” and described a position where people would support goals that ranged from sustainable power to affordable housing, as long as it wasn’t where the speaker could see it. YIMBY, by contrast, is an affirmative statement from supporters that they want affordable housing and they welcome it in their area.

YIMBY Goals for 2019
In 2018, YIMBY sponsored legislation that would bring housing closer to public transportation centers. While the bill did not make it out of committee, there are plans to bring it and other housing legislation and zoning bills before the state congress again in 2019.

Some bills will address zoning issues. For instance, if land in a specific area is upzoned to allow housing, then land that was previously ineligible for housing developments could be used.

Other bills will address land-use fees. At the current time, it can take a great deal of time, effort and funding to have a housing plan approved. This, in turn, makes housing far more expensive for everyone involved.

By streamlining the process, developers can bring housing projects to fruition far more quickly and affordably. The hope is that these savings will be passed on to consumers, lowering housing prices overall.

There are obviously many pieces of the puzzle that will need to come together to ease California’s housing shortage. But, the activists with YIMBY hope that, by addressing legislative roadblocks, they can make at least the first steps toward affordable housing easier.

Editor’s Note: Anthony Gilbert is a real estate broker in Washington and a member of the REALFX Group.


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