Repeating Myself

The logic goes something like this:

  • I say “my YIMBYism will center renters or it will be BS” because renters, esp in cities w/ severe housing crises, are precarious. Some moreso than others, but I believe this statement is generally true.
  • Centering renters requires, y’know, actually listening to renters. Here and here are examples of what that’s like in practice.
  • Actually listening to renters then requires seriously engaging with rent control.
  • And seriously engaging with rent control requires realizing that the precarious renter in Boyle Heights worried about being forced from their home has a wildly different set of concerns than the posh Beverly Hills jerk who doesn’t want the subway rolling through their neighborhood because they think the disgusting plebeians would lower their property values. One’s worried about an existential threat to their livelihood. Another’s worried about their investments.
  • Those two people’s concerns are sufficiently different that describing both as NIMBYs stretches the definition to the point where it loses all meaning.
  • The Surly Urbanist articulated the problem with this quite clearly: “If you assume anyone who may challenge a pro-Development agenda is a NIMBY and unreachable then you’ve cut off most renters in the country.
  • Regardless of its political expediency, any YIMBYism that writes off most renters in the country by definition does not account for a very precarious segment of a city’s population…which sort of deflates the idea of those YIMBYisms advocating for “everyone.”
  • Or: unless those YIMBYisms openly center developers and landlords over renters, they’re BS. And then they’re a different kind of BS.

Further thoughts in no particular order:

  • To renters, blanketly opposing rent control is a big flashing light that says “I Don’t Care About You Or Your Concerns,” or, “I, Who Does Not Live In Your City And/Or By Occupation Or Family History Is Less Precarious Than You, Think I Know What You Need Better Than You.”
  • It’s on you as the YIMBY to build bridges with renters, not the other way around.
  • Blaming rent stabilization efforts for the scummy actions of landlords makes you sound like a playground bully going “stop hitting yourself, stop hitting yourself.”
  • Considering how much housing they’re [not] building in San Francisco and Los Angeles, I don’t ever expect to make the money I’d need to live in either of those places, with or without rent control. And when most of the housing that is being built there is out of my price range, the signal I get loud and clear is “This City Is Not For You.” So my focus w/r/t rent control automatically shifts to the effects it has on existing renters b/c (once again) it’ll never affect me personally because I’ll never be able to move there.
  • Quite frankly, if you dismiss renter concerns as part of your YIMBYism, what is the point of you?

About theoditsek

I like going places.
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