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.
Butler Reynolds saysMay 16, 2017 at 10:24 am
Those of us who wish to live in a more dynamic market-oriented society are often accused by those favoring a more politically oriented society of having the attitude, “I’ve got mine, to hell with the rest of you!”
Yet it is the NIMBYs who express this attitude in their cities with their political roadblocks to change and innovation.
sffoghorn saysMay 22, 2017 at 1:49 pm
If you all truly want market urbanism, then get the banks that finance real estate speculation to heft their own freight without the safety net of the Federal Reserve and quantitive easing and see how much capital is available for luxury condo construction.
In a true libertarian economics, the banks would have long since collapsed of their own moral hazards and there would be no capital available to finance any of your get-rich-quick schemes.
You all don’t want market urbanism or libertarian economics, you want socialism for the capital and the rigid discipline of the market for the rest of us.