Who Are The YIMBYs?

"Golden Gates: The Fight for for Housing in America," a new book by New York Times reporter Conor Dougherty, chronicles the early days of the YIMBY movement in the Bay Area.

2 minute read

February 26, 2020, 9:00 AM PST

By Josh Stephens @jrstephens310

San Francisco

kropic1 / Shutterstock

"The YIMBYtown conference—which Dougherty describes, accurately, as 'full of beer and the excitement of several dozen people who thought they are the only person in the world thinking something and were now at a national conference of People Like Them'— appears a few dozen pages into Golden Gates. It was most certainly a pivotal moment in the YIMBY movement, and Dougherty provides an intimate, nuanced look at the origin of the movement and of the successes and failures it has experienced since then."

"Despite the book’s subtitle, Fighting for Housing in America, the book’s primary title is not just more poetic but also more accurate. Dougherty makes a few nods toward Los Angeles, where the anti-growth AIDS Healthcare Foundation has formed a “curious alliance" with social justice activists in South L.A., and he mentions various YIMBYtown conferences around the country. Nonetheless, Golden Gates concerns not so much housing in America as it does housing in the Bay Area. In Dougherty's defense, the Bay Area battles are surely the country’s most interesting (Los Angeles’s YIMBY’s, with whom I am familiar, are a more low-key bunch than Trauss and many of her colleagues), and they have lessons for many metro areas where supplies are low and prices are high."

"Golden Gates is nothing if not of the moment. The end of the story is far less certain. History is evolving on a literally daily basis, and the results of YIMBYism—or lack thereof—are a long ways off. The crisis will either get incrementally better, in part thanks to recently passed state laws and a greater appetite for development generally, or it will get much worse." 

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