The Rise Of YIMBY - with Sonja Trauss and Brent Gaisford

In Episode 2 of The Market Urbanism Podcast, we discuss the rise of the YIMBY movement. This is a pro-housing advocacy movement (“yes in my backyard”) that has spread to cities across America, and includes an umbrella network of different non-profits, politicians and noted advocates.

In segment 1 we interview Sonja Trauss, who is arguably the face of the movement. She’s the founder of San Francisco Bay Area Renters’ Federation, one of the original Yimby orgs, and is now running for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, District 6 (election day is November 6th).

In segment 2 we interview Brent Gaisford. He is director of Abundant Housing LA, a Los Angeles Yimby group that now has 2,500+ members.

Show Notes:

0:45 Scott Beyer begins editorial on Yimby movement

2:06 Martha Ekdahl talks about her time in Oakland volunteering for the Yimby group East Bay for Everyone

7:55 hosts discuss the broader Yimby movement across the country

10:22 start of interview with Sonja Trauss

13:01 Beyer asks Trauss about her strategy for getting Yimby economic arguments across to renters

16:09 Antonio Grana asks Trauss about what the main issues are in District 6, where she is running. Trauss says “homelessness.”

18:13 Sergio Rodrigues asks Trauss what is the right way to get through to housing activists who question the role of supply and demand in the housing market. Here was her answer:

What I always point to is west Oakland. In west Oakland, prices have been going up $100/month for rent since 2011. And there really hasn’t been anything built there. One thing that’s really important is to make sure that these examples of places where nothing is being built and prices are going up anyway are very very very well-known.

19:11 Ekdahl asks Trauss how, if elected, she’ll convince other Sups to accept more housing in their districts.

20:33 Beyer reads a write-in question from Isaac Rosenberg asking how SF can keep its starving artists.

21:48 Beyer asks Trauss about the long-term strategy for the Yimby movement

26:14 beginning of interview with Brent Gaisford of Abundant Housing LA

27:29 Gaisford describes what AHLA is.

30:20 Ekdahl asks Gaisford about how AHLA has grown so fast.

31:19 Rodrigues asks Gaisford what policies AHLA is trying to advance.

34:49 Beyer reads a write-in question from Alexander Booth asking what is the single most powerful legislation L.A. can pass to get more housing.

37:09 Gaisford notes that rapid construction in downtown L.A. has stabilized prices compared to parts of metro L.A. that don’t grow.

39:21 Grana asks about the likelihood of getting upzonings around future rail projects.

40:55 hosts respond to both interviews

42:00 hosts discuss the downzonings of L.A. from the 1960s through the 1980s. Here is more info on that.