YIMBYs: The “Alt-Right” Darlings of the Real Estate Industry

In San Francisco’s Mission District, flyers pasted on mailboxes and light poles warn longtime residents of the new “conquistadores,” the hordes of wealthy tech industrialists who’ve descended on the neighborhood en masse over the past few years, displacing many in the Latinx-heavy neighborhood to the outer reaches of the Bay Area.

But it’s not just lower-income people who are feeling set upon. Rich newcomers also see themselves as an interest group in need of a voice. “Someone needs to represent people who haven’t yet moved into a neighborhood,” said pro-development activist Sonja Trauss, who moved to Oakland in 2011, at an April real estate industry soiree in Vancouver. In San Francisco, “the people who haven’t yet moved in” most often means the tech industrialists, lured by high salaries, stock options and in-office employee benefits like massage therapists and handcrafted kombucha.

But these new tech “immigrants,” as Trauss refers to her kinfolk, spell disaster for current San Franciscans. In 2015, the city-funded homeless count found 71 percent of homeless San Franciscans were housed in San Francisco before being pushed onto the streets…

A Campaign to Legitimize the Luxury Condo Boom

A founder of the Yelp.com web empire, Jeremy Stoppelman, bequeathed $100,000 upon new Oakland resident Trauss in 2015, with the stated goal of clearing the way for more housing units, even if those units were only accessible to the richest of the rich. That investment helped to spark a libertarian, anti-poor campaign to turn longtime sites of progressive organizing into rich-people-only zones…

A Grassroots Facade…

YIMBY brings together community groups, advocates, and grassroots organizations,” reads the Toronto YIMBY Party’s website. But North America’s first YIMBY convening, YIMBY2016, was funded by groups, such as the National Association of Realtors and the Boulder Area Realtor Association…

Are the people-of-color-led community groups like Causa Justa that supported a moratorium on luxury condo construction “just as bad” as anti-immigrant Trump supporters? Trauss thinks so, calling people who didn’t support new market-rate condo projects in central San Francisco “nativists” because they don’t welcome with open arms the construction cranes building lavish condos with butterfly gardens and valet parking in traditionally working-class neighborhoods…

The BARFERs (Ms. Stauss YIMBIEs are known as BARFERs) got in trouble when they used the term “nativists” at a Board of Supervisors hearing after Trump was elected. None of the supervisors appreciated that moniker and the project Ms. Strauss was supporting has been radically changed. It is slated to be a temporary homeless shelter.

Deadly Neoliberal Policies

Infill, with its self-aware, geek-chic name, is the podcast that Trauss co-hosts with another YIMBY-to-watch, Laura Foote Clark. When Truthout asked for evidence that the YIMBY trickle-down model would benefit people who aren’t making tech salaries, Foote Clark was quick to send a dozen papers that claim to show how neoliberal deregulation will end the housing crisis, and that rich NIMBYs are the main benefactors of further regulation…(more – Leave comments here if you can.)

“…rich NIMBYs are the main benefactors of further regulation…”

The above statement is evidence of a misplaced jealousy of people who own homes, and a misunderstanding of the concept of liquid assets, true values, and security. People who own homes are just as stuck as people who rent. The only thing they have going for them is a little more control over their finances until they lose their source of income and are foreclosed on if they bought into an equity loan scheme.

If you do sell your home to realize an increase in equity value, where do you move? You can hardly afford to trade up in the market.

One of the major things that sets Yimbies apart from the rest of us is that along with a strong sense of jealousy, they live in the perfect future while the rest of us live in the present. Waiting for the world to turn into a perfect vision is not something that appeals to people who live in the present. We built the city to live in, not as a get rich scheme.

The amazing thing is that WE are accused of being the obstructionists, while THE YIMBIEs and BARFERs, along with SFMTA and SPUR are the real obstructionists. They are creating havoc on our streets impeding our movement, while claiming we are impeding their ability to stop us.

The claim to being libertarians is especially difficult to handle considering the folks who run the local Libertrian Party are standing firmly on the other side of most Yimbie issues.

What a hoax! They don’t even know who their friends are.