Our view: We are entering the age of the YIMBY

November 16, 2017

One letter makes a big difference for the Bay Area.

For years, development opponents had the political field pretty much to themselves. The “Not In My Back Yard” contingent — NIMBYs — became a force to be reckoned with in many communities. They showed up at meetings. They spent the time to learn the process, and how to work it to their advantage. They remembered their friends and their enemies at election time. Particularly in the Bay Area’s better-off neighborhoods, crossing the local NIMBYs carried electoral consequences. Catering to them generally carried none, and officialdom responded to these incentives by downsizing or denying projects by the dozen.

We are now entering the age of the YIMBY. Prefaced with a “Yes, ” it’s a compelling counterargument that the only way to keep the housing shortage from crippling coming generations is by doing a much better job of building it in nearly every community, and by clearing away obstacles that keep us from doing so.

YIMBYs have a lot of growing up to do. They are still relatively new to the political arena, and can’t yet match the skills or the knowledge that development opponents have built up over the years. But their emergence is a sign that the tide may finally be shifting in Bay Area development debates for the better, pointing the way toward a more equitable future.