The California YIMBY Research Bounty Program

The YIMBY movement is lucky to have a base that is both technically sophisticated and eager to chip in. To fully leverage this, California YIMBY is launching a research bounty program to make our research and data needs clear, reward those who volunteer to help fill these needs, and generally increase our research output without all of the typical overhead and bureaucracy.

Here’s everything you need to know:

  1. Research bounty hunters agree to share any code or data associated with the bounty and grant California YIMBY full use and publication rights. On a case-by-case basis, research bounty hunters may be invited to join as an author on derivative products or speak with policymakers. Research bounty hunters will receive full credit for their work unless they request otherwise.
  2. Research bounty hunters are strongly encouraged to check in and collaborate with the Research Director before starting on the project. Bounty prompts cover most of the necessary details, but a check-in meeting will hopefully avoid bad bounties being submitted.
  3. Once a research bounty is submitted, the Research Director will review it, potentially in collaboration with any California YIMBY colleagues who suggested the bounty. The Research Director will also provide feedback as needed and pay out the bounty once it meets the standards outlined in the posting and an invoice is submitted.
  4. At this stage, the Research Director will either publish the product, share it with relevant coalition partners, or coordinate follow-up or derivative research, depending on the nature of the bounty and the needs of the organization.

And now—drumroll please—here are the first round of research bounties:

  1. County-level eviction data (data): A dataset containing county-level eviction rates, including where they occur, and how they compare to the rate of eviction filings. Counties track this, but are under no obligation to report it to a central entity—this could help us better understand the geography of eviction.
    • Specs:
      1. A spreadsheet, preferably in Excel, potentially a JSON. To be used internally within California YIMBY on derivative research.
      2. A readme explaining how the data was collected and flagging gaps in the data and/or methodological considerations.
    • Bounty: $2,000
  2. Total expenditures on homelessness statewide (research): A reasonable estimate of how much California spends on homelessness, knitting together data from the state, counties, and various major local government commitments.
    • Specs:
      1. A single numerical estimate calculated using a spreadsheet, preferably Excel, potentially a JSON, incorporating all major state, county, and local funding sources.
      2. A readme explaining how the data was collected, links to all relevant sources, and information on where data was unavailable.
      3. As this is a complex calculation, research bounty hunters for this bounty must first clear their plan of work with the Policy Director, who will also manage the assessment of the final project.
    • Bounty: $1,000
  3. Calculate a housing graveyard (research): How much housing has your local NIMBY elected official killed? Replicate this project for a local elected official—e.g. a council member or supervisor—who has consistently opposed housing at the state and local levels.
    • Specs:
      1. All data contained within this project for a local elected official, including a representative sample of a dozen or so individual projects, local zoning reforms, and statewide laws opposed by the local elected official.
      2. Images and narrative elements needed to explain the nature of the elected official’s record on housing in qualitative terms.
      3. A readme explaining how the data was collected and identifying any areas of ambiguity.
      4. Research bounty hunters must receive prior approval from the Research Director and Policy Director before undertaking this project.
    • Bounty: $2,000.
  4. Understanding planning fees (data): A dataset containing the cost of standard planning fees for a representative sample of municipalities from across California. These fees can range from nominal charges to necessary cost recovery to major sources of revenue, yet very little is known about how they vary.
    • Specs:
      1. A spreadsheet, preferably Excel, containing the following columns: local jurisdiction name, link to the fee schedule, notes, and standard cost of…
        1. Variance
        2. Zone change/rezoning
        3. Zoning text amendment
        4. General plan amendment
        5. Special/conditional use permit
      2. This project will only look at municipalities—not counties or any other quasi-local entities. It must sample at least 50 municipalities. This sample should reflect a range of contexts from across California.
      3. Many jurisdictions adjust these fees based on project size and/or characteristics. Research bounty hunters are encouraged to include as much of this information as possible.
    • Bounty: $1,000
  5. Open ended (TBD): We don’t have a monopoly on the knowledge of what research/data can or should be conducted/collected. Toward this end, we invite researchers to submit bounty ideas. We are interested in research, data, maps, and data platforms that can advance housing affordability in California.
    • Specs:
      1. Project standards and expectations will be determined by the Research Director on a project-by-project basis.
      2. Bounty amounts will likewise be determined by the Research Director based on the likely difficulty and value of the work.
    • Pool: Up to $5,000

Interesting in starting on a listed research bounty? Proposing a new research bounty idea? Submitting a completed research bounty? Click here to start the conversation.