Renting sports promote urban housing development
Many of the most prosperous and attractive cities in the United States have a big problem: expensive homes. Driven by young renters, a new political movement is demanding more housing and shocking urban politics.
NOEL KING, moderator:
it is good. This is a situation that some people may face. You decide to move to a big city – maybe San Francisco or New York – you start looking for a place to live. This is a complete shock. Everything is too expensive. But in some cities it is so bad, a new political movement has been formed, requiring cities to make developers easier to build. Dan Charles from NPR’s Planet Money podcast has this story.
DAN CHARLES, BYLINE: One night four years ago, Sonja Trauss walked on a street in San Francisco and she saw a sign. It said that helping us stop developers from building a new large apartment building here, this sign made her furious. It is difficult for her to find a place to live. And she thought – those who registered, they have a home, but they let others can’t get the same thing. She broke.
SONJA TRAUSS: That’s how I am, messing up you. Just like, I know what you did. You make a poster. You write a letter. You go to the hearing. So I saw that sign, and I am like, I have to make a logo. You know, I also plan to build a website.
Charles: She formed a group – mostly young people, mostly renters. Their message is simple – build more homes. She and her friends saw it the way they were fighting NIMBY – those who watched the new building said it was not in my backyard. So they call themselves YIMBYs – yes, in my backyard. They began to appear in community meetings that support new developments. People didn’t know what to do at first, just like the woman who discussed another large new apartment building at the Berkeley meeting.
Unidentified people #1: I would also like to say that this small group of people is led by a lady who has been to Albany, San Francisco and Berkeley to talk about development just because she likes it very much. This can only be a frontier group of development.
TRAUSS: Personal attack? what is…
Unknown person #2: You must leave.
TRAUSS: …that is all?
: Are you going to let me have time, Admin Kristoff (ph)?
:Yes, you can have time. We have no personal attacks.
Charles: A few minutes later, Sonja Trauss got a microphone.
TRAUSS: When you don’t build enough things, the value of the property will rise, so I – you can say that I am from a greedy developer, but I can say that you are a greedy homeowner here.
Charles: Her movement has grown. Now, in many other cities in California, there are groups that call themselves YIMBY – Boston, Seattle, Australia. Rather than just supporting individual building projects, they are trying to change housing rules. They hope to make it easier to build apartment buildings nearby, and now these apartment buildings are full of single-family homes. These neighborhoods make up most of San Francisco and the suburbs.
TRAS: People need to be able to demolish their single-family homes and build a four-person or even ten-unit garden apartment.
Charles: YIMBY is still small. They were outsiders who beat at the door of the city government, but they actually won some battles. Last year, San Francisco passed a new law that allowed for more intensive housing in some quiet residential areas. A few months ago, the city elected a new mayor, the London breed, which sounded like a YIMBY.
(SOUNDBITE for archived records)
LONDON BREED: I plan to change no politics to affirmative politics.
BREED: Yes, we will build more houses.
Charles: And Sonja Trauss? She is currently running for the Supervisory Board in San Francisco. NPR Charles, Daniel News.
(BLOCKHEAD’s “SOUNDBITE” “Attack Doctor”)