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YIMBY vs. NIMBY

 

 

In many parts of the world the YIMBY's (YES in my backyard!) and the NIMBY's (NOT in my backyard!) are in the midst of a tug-of-war struggle:  some want all and any housing development, and others want absolutely none. Not unlike the rest of our planet, these (mostly small)extremist groups seem to control the narrative - and the media who love extreme headlines - and often are the primary cause of a lack of progress that could positively impact the majority. Surely somewhere between YIMBY-ism and NIMBY-ism lies a sane, practical reality to resolve our housing challenges?
 
YIMBY's rightfully want to expand housing in grossly under-built environments and those where the entry level and lower priced options are scarce to non-existent. Often though they do so without much consideration for the fabric of existing communities, how big additional swaths of renters and owners could impact schools, roads, hospitals and other infrastructure.
 
Often YIMBY's sole mandate is profit: build lots to make lots of money....including agent commissions!  One of the largest contributors to local taxes is the cost of schools: what happens when a large group of people move into town and the schools have not been upgraded and expanded to accommodate this additional capacity need? Will those moving in contribute to the cost? If you live in an area with big expensive single-family homes, building large, inexpensive apartment buildings in their midst is impractical and damaging.  Reduced home values leads to reduced real estate tax collections which hurts all.
 
NIMBY's rightfully want to protect their lifestyle, avoiding excess new traffic and demands on infrastructure, schools, etc, but they also often don't like density as it blocks views, potentially reduces light, they may not like the style of new construction, etc, etc. Often they simply don't want ANY change and are not even open to considering compromises or offer alternative, sensible solutions. They also bemoan the inability to staff all their essential needs - restaurants, yard maintenance, teachers, firemen, police, etc - without acknowledging that 'affordable staffing' is impossible without housing.
 
Somewhere in between lies the solution:  zoning and planning that is accelerated, simplified and accommodating but also addresses all the infrastructure needs and how to pay for them. Herein also lies the ability to size and place things appropriately that enhances neighborhoods and does not strip them of that which made them thrive in the past. Clearly defined codes around all sorts of things including esthetics can help tremendously.
 
The reality is we need more housing. Building it hours away is not practical. Most workers - especially the lower paying jobs - cannot work from home to avoid a long commute.  Healthy communities are able to house everyone to be able to function properly: the rich, middle class and poor.
 
Yes, if Monaco, the seat of global capitalism, can build affordable - and very attractive - housing in the midst of their multi-million dollar homes, anyone can too. A little collaboration, compromise and sensible, practical planning can go a long way to marginalize the extreme sentiments of the YIMBY's and NIMBY's that usually prevent any real solutions to real problems.

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