Op-Ed: Overcoming a New NIMBYism

Rick Jacobus argues that those who block new development on social justice grounds aren't fighting to win long-term. Building is necessary, but with it should come robust affordable housing mandates.

Read Time: 1 minute

March 17, 2016, 10:00 AM PDT

By Philip Rojc @PhilipRojc


Tenderloin District

K M / Flickr

Rick Jacobus thinks vigorous development can eventually solve the housing crisis, but only if it comes with hefty affordable housing provisions. The first step is for all parties to agree that we should, in fact, be building more housing. 

Until recently, Jacobus writes, the term "NIMBY" applied to "middle-class or upper-class residents who resisted the location of affordable housing developments in their neighborhoods. What we are seeing now are movements of the poor and their advocates resisting the location of luxury-housing projects."

While activism can counter displacement in some neighborhoods, the effort to preserve places in amber may be doomed to fail. "We are in the middle of a once in a lifetime tectonic shift in consumer preferences regarding urban living." The well-off want to return to cities, and the new question has become: where to house the rich?

Jacobus rejects the notion that unmitigated free market development will let luxury housing "trickle down," preserving diversity. Instead, he envisions a strong combination of rent control and, even better, social housing in which public or nonprofit landlords keep rents low. These tactics should expand to protect one-third of new development, letting low-income residents share in an urban resurgence.  

Wednesday, March 9, 2016 in Shelterforce

Green bike lane with flexible delineators and textures paint in Hoboken, New Jersey

America’s Best New Bike Lanes

PeopleForBikes highlights some of the most exciting new bike infrastructure projects completed in 2022.

January 31, 2023 - PeopleforBikes

Aerial view of MBTA commuter rail station in Concord, Massachusetts among green trees

Massachusetts Zoning Reform Law Reaches First Deadline

Cities and towns had until January 31 to submit their draft plans for rezoning areas near transit stations to comply with a new state law.

February 1, 2023 - Streetsblog Mass

Green alley under construction

Green Alleys: A New Paradigm for Stormwater Management

Rather than shuttling stormwater away from the city and into the ocean as quickly as possible, Los Angeles is now—slowly—moving toward a ‘city-as-sponge’ approach that would capture and reclaim more water to recharge crucial reservoirs.

February 2, 2023 - Curbed

Arizona Canal

HUD Grants Total $315 Million for Continuum of Care for the Unhoused

An unprecedented federal grant program, announced earlier this month, will support continuum of care for the unhoused in unsheltered and rural settings.

39 minutes ago - U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Covered pergolas for outdoor dining line the curb on Ballard Avenue, Seattle

Seattle Historic District Could Remove Street Dining

Despite the popularity of Ballard Avenue’s outdoor dining pergolas, some district board members argue the patios don’t match the district’s historic character.

February 7 - The Urbanist

Rendering of landscaped street with street trees and pedestrian sidewalk

South L.A. Complete Streets Project Back on Track

First proposed in 2015, the Broadway-Manchester redesign would add bike infrastructure, pedestrian improvements, trees, and other amenities.

February 7 - Urbanize LA

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.