What Is A Yimby? Well, It's Certainly Not A Nimby

Yimbys are people who want more housing...no matter where it's built.
By Josh Albrektson | Nov 19, 2018 |
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By Josh Albrektson | Nov 19, 2018 |
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Los Angeles — So let’s talk about some definitions. Nothing infuriates me more than when people claim to be YIMBYs while clearly stating and advocating for anti-YIMBY positions. The founder of Strong Towns has written multiple NIMBY articles, even while claiming to be YIMBY.

A YIMBY is someone who wants everything good in their backyard. They are for a new museum even if it brings traffic. They are excited that the Olympics are coming to their town. They are thrilled that companies and other people want to locate in their neighborhood.

As far as housing goes, a YIMBY believes we should build everywhere. While ideally it would be in rich places, we are in such a housing shortage that we fight for every unit in every place. Affordable, middle class and luxury housing is all housing and all should be advocated for. You can totally say a building should have more affordable units, but you can’t say a building shouldn’t be built unless it has xxxx affordable units. Above all, a YIMBY believes in supply and demand.

Some anti-displacement people believe that we should only be building in the rich areas. Building in the poorer areas causes indirect displacement, and they feel it is more important to protect the potentially displaced than have more housing in those places. Some of the people saying this are the ones most affected by the lack of housing, and, as such, we shouldn’t completely trash them, and should work with them whenever possible, especially on things like tenant protection and anti-eviction laws.

A subset of anti-displacement advocates are anti-market-rate housing. They quote false stats (recent ones I’ve seen are that luxury housing in L.A. has a 12% vacancy rate, 30% of all transactions are foreign buyers, 250,000 homes are vacant, new apartments are just investment vehicles for rich people, etc). A prime example is Damien Goodmon of the Crenshaw Subway Coalition, who wanted a “yes” vote for the blatantly anti-housing Measure S. These are the people who we shouldn’t even consider trying to work with.

And then you have the NIMBYs. These people believe housing would be great, but great over there. They only advocate against things, not for things. They hate the new traffic that will come from a museum. A 4-story building is Manhattenizing their block. They are the reason people are homeless and the rent is rising today.

Not everybody fits neatly into a category. Some people are not full YIMBY, and that is totally ok. Let’s try to work on the things that we all agree on.

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