Meet YIMBY: Pro-development groups join the battle in California housing wars

September 10, 2017

It’s an ageless fight waged in board rooms, council chambers and auditoriums across the state.

Governing bodies take their seats on raised platforms as a parade of angry citizens lambast the latest homebuilding proposal, worried about traffic, schools, crime and property values.

The developers, they say, are greedy bloodsuckers.

The residents, developers say, are NIMBYs — happy to see new shopping centers, apartment blocks and housing tracts, so long as they’re “not in my backyard.”

Now, there’s a new player in this well-worn battleground: YIMBYs.

YIMBYs are responding to that call by supporting more housing, they say. Their goal is to address high housing costs by building more homes.

“In Orange County, we have different issues, but the root of the issue is the same: A lack of housing,” said Elizabeth Hansburg, an urban planner from Fullerton who co-founded People for Housing in March. “We have a housing shortage.”

If city councils, boards of supervisors and other decision makers are only hearing from housing opponents, they’re more inclined to block a development, or shrink it, Mark Vallianatos said.

“But if they hear from people who support housing, then it’s not just a one-sided conversation anymore.”