Shutting Down YIMBY town

YIMBYtown demo.jpg

Oakland didn’t call him “gentrification Jerry” for nothing.

In September, gov. brown signed 15 bills supported by self-proclaimed housing “activists” like YIMBY (Yes in My Back Yard) founder Sonja Trauss, as well as microsoft, yelp, salesforce, and comcast. SB 35, sponsored by SF’s scott weiner is probably the worst of the bills. It gives local housing agencies authority to approve new regulations for housing development without public comment. It requires cities to annually develop a plan to meet state requirements for housing construction, and if a sufficient number of units are not built within the required timeframes, the city can be sued and the court can require the city to approve the housing.

Although touted as providing for “affordable housing,” SB 35 actually requires construction of all types of units, including luxury and “market-rate” units.   For the record, “low-income” affordable housing applies to families making up to 60 percent of the median income, and “middle income” affordable housing applies to families making up to 150 percent of the median income. The recently released 2017 official median income for a family of four in SF and San Mateo counties is $115,300. Just for comparison, $15 an hour for a 40-hour week, works out to be $31,200 annually.

Under the combination of new state laws, a developer would have the right to construct any housing development that includes 10 percent “affordable housing.” SB 167, sponsored by the Berkeley “progressive” Nancy skinner, would allow cities to be fined up to $10,000 for each unit it doesn’t approve.

The legislature’s Democratic super-majority justified these developer-dream bills because two other bills may provide a little (very little) new funding for affordable housing.  SB 2 would collect up to $200 million per year to replace other lost funding for housing programs for homeless and other low-income people through fees on real estate filings, although it is vague on how the funding would be allocated. SB 3, the Veterans and Affordable Housing Bond Act, is a new one-time $4 billion bond that will be voted on in 2018. If it is approved, $1 billion would be used to extend the veterans housing program which expires this year.  The remaining $3 billion would finance housing programs for building and/or rehabilitation of either low-income or mixed housing. To understand how inadequate this is for public low-income housing, the recent SF Housing Authority rebuild of Hunter’s View cost $450 million.

Which brings us to the YIMBYs (Yes In My Back Yard), a “movement” supported and funded by developers, Tech millionaires, and of course, scott weiner, whose backyard, by the way, it isn’t. In 2014, Sonja Trauss founded SFBARF (SF Bay Area Renters Federation), which was renamed to YIMBY the following year. Claiming to be “housing activists,” YIMBY advocates for “inbuilding” in neighborhoods like the Mission and Oakland, and who cares about the people being displaced by expensive condos. Trauss has tweeted that gentrification is “the revaluation of black land to its correct price.”  Not to mention her “No More No” t-shirt. She is now running for the SF Board of Supervisors to replace-termed out Jane Kim.

Sonja and her friends held a YIMBYtown conference in Oakland in July, boasting scott weiner addressing gentrification advocates from far away cities and countries. Gay Shame and friends rallied outside.

In addition to lobbying and “community organizing”, YIMBY has a non-profit which sues communities for not building enough housing. In July, it won a case forcing Berkeley to approve a 3-unit building that neighbors had opposed. To Sonja, SB 35+SB 167=$$$$ for YIMBY!

Author: lagai

LAGAI-Queer Insurrection is one of the oldest radical queer liberation groups in the U.S. We publish UltraViolet, a more or less bimonthly newspaper, which is mailed free of charge to over 1500 people, including over 800 prisoners. Our website is

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