The far-left “TruthOut” web page recently published an attack on YIMBYs,* describing them as an “Alt-Right” group (despite the fact that the Obama Administration is pro-YIMBY). I was surprised how little substance there was to the article; most of it was various ad-hominem attacks on YIMBY activists for cavorting with rich people. I only found two statements that even faintly resembled rational arguments.
First, the article suggests that only current residents’ interests are worth considering in zoning policy, because “the people who haven’t yet moved in” most often means the tech industrialists, lured by high salaries, stock options and in-office employee benefits like massage therapists and handcrafted kombucha.”
This statement is no different than President Trump’s suggestion that Mexican immigrants “[are] bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.” – that is, it is an unverifiable (if not bigoted) generalization about large numbers of people. Furthermore, it doesn’t make sense. The “tech industrialists” have the money to outbid everyone else, so they aren’t harmed by restrictive zoning.
Second, the article states that academic papers aren’t as relevant as the actual experiences of San Franciscans displaced by high housing costs. In response to the argument that less regulation means cheaper housing, it states “tell that to people like Iris Canada, the 100-year-old Black woman who had used local regulations to stay in her home of six decades, only to be evicted in February.”
So in other words, somebody was evicted in San Francisco, therefore San Francisco’s restrictive zoning prevents eviction. I don’t see how the latter follows from the former. The whole point of the YIMBY/market urbanist argument is that if there was more housing, there would be lower housing costs, hence fewer evictions.
*For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, YIMBY means “Yes In My Back Yard”, a label adopted by activists who favor more housing construction in cities.