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YIMBY: Spiking Rents Cause ‘Yes in My Back Yard’ Movement

YIMBY (Aaron Muszalski / Flickr / CC / Cropped)
Aaron Muszalski / Flickr / CC / Cropped
Newport Beach, CA

City councils are being harassed to approve new apartment developments by residents who are angry about spiking rents and screaming “Yes in My Back Yard” (YIMBY) to generate competition to rein in greedy landlords.

YIMBY urban youth coalitions have sprung up as San Francisco’s YIMBY Party, Abundant Housing LA, Orange County People for Housing, and Santa Monica Forward. The movement driver, according to the Orange County Register, is the lack of new housing construction, which allowed California rents to climb faster than the U.S. Consumer Price Index over the last 7 years. Monthly asking rents for one-bedroom apartments in early summer hit $1,829 a month in Los Angeles County and $1,827 in Orange County.

Breitbart News reported that a non-partisan California Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) 2015 study cited the vast array of state, municipal and school development fees as one of the reasons California housing prices and rents are about three times the national average. The LAO stated that California needs to make “changes to a broad range of policies that affect housing supply directly or indirectly” to increase housing construction by “100,000 additional units annually — almost exclusively in its coastal communities — to seriously mitigate its problems with housing affordability.”

The LAO numbers indicate Los Angeles County needs to generate 30,000 new apartments each year and Orange County needs about 15,000. But local developers only added 12,700 new units in Los Angeles and 5,700 in Orange County.

How California went from NIMBY to YIMBY is a tortured tale that began in 1979 with a coalition of young “baby-boomer” liberals complaining about capitalist pig landlords and seniors facing threats of eviction from condo conversions. They banded together as “Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights” to kick-off the “Not in My Back Yard” movement (NIMBY). After successfully passing a local initiative in 1979 to amend the city’s charter to implement broad-based rent control that limited rent increases to 75 percent of the prior year’s U.S. Consumer Price Index, the movement spread across California coastal communities.

First hailed as a means for “The People’s Republic of Santa Monica” to stop greedy landlords from jacking up rents on vulnerable seniors and young people, it effectively ended new housing developments. 36 years later, the lack of competition has freed up greedy landlords to spike rents on today’s millennial youth.

Housing is not only outrageously expensive for those without rent control. A millennial Reddit commenter complained that Santa Monica NIMBYs are also “notorious for being friendly to some groups (homeless people, narcissistic parents) while being openly hostile to just about everyone else. If you visit you’re almost guaranteed to see someone getting a jaywalking ticket, people getting parking tickets for legal parking (for things like no front license plate, illegal tint, wheels ever slightly over 18″ from the curb).”

The old-guard Marxists living in their rent-controlled workers’ paradises are shocked that young urban dwellers are showing up to local city council meetings to rage for more housing development with higher densities ratios to stop escalating rents. Unwilling to entertain the thought that they are exploiting the young for their own self-gain, NIMBYs are calling YIMBYs traitors who are collaborating with developers.

YIMBY groups have organically sprouted in high-cost cities elsewhere throughout the country  Hundreds of YIMBY grassroots community organizers, political leaders, educators, housing developers, and everyday people representing New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, London, Austin, Boston, Toronto and other cities came together in Oakland for 3-days of networking this July at the first YIMBYtown conference.


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