Don't judge a movement by its most online commentators
Freddie is doing a thing that I find deeply annoying and that is saying "well X is true at the median so X must explain Y". Wage growth has been weak at the median (which I don't think is necessarily true) so those financial conatraints must explain NIMBYism. But NIMBYism is based on preserving policies put onto place in the 60's and 70's - when economic inequality was at its nadir. It's clearly not about protecting wealth. Add in the fact that some of the most deeply NIMBY cities are places with high renter populations - what economic reason do the 60%+ of households in SF who rent have to be a NIMBY?
I’ve said it once, but it bears repeating: I have very strong suspicions that much NIMBY-ism is at least partly predicated on how devastatingly ugly and poorly designed almost all medium density housing is. Hell, I am extremely pro housing and even I would object to a developer building the standard mid-century-modern-revival stacked box/ hardyplank/peel and stick brick dreck that is the standard for new construction from Scarsdale to San Leandro. Quality matters.
I think the biggest misconception many cities have is that the big strip malls are actually financially better long term for them than denser walkable developments and some places are coming to this realization. Car infrastructure is a net loss to cities, every road and parking lot is a liability.
Part of the reason for financial woes of many sprawly cities is that it costs are more to provide services to low density housing, and it would be to find services to higher than city development. It would actually be in cities best interest to build answer developments in order to have a more sustainable balance sheet.
In addition, dense developments provide far more tax revenue per sqft to cities and are much more livable to the people around them. There’s a reason the most expensive places in the country places are more walkable and have denser developments.
Josh I think you should look at chatting with Chuck Marohn from Strong Towns
I'm surprised to read this idea that cities think they can generate more income from more new retail spaces vs more income from additional people who will shop at existing stores.
I think Austin just passed some major YIMBY reforms to. I will say I am both surprised and impressed with the relative quickness that Democrats have turned on zoning. Getting over the biases of more regulation is good and the complaints from Malthusian environmentalists is no easy task.
This reads like a developer’s cheer squad wrote it. Please. Understand that rezoning and density are the kibble electeds scatter to get the political donations and IE committees to support them. I’m a classical urbanist and I ate the bait for decades. Then I realized it was political corruption. If you’ve seen what these policies are doing to Seattle you might get it. Building townhouses for onesies and their dogs is stupid. Townhouse floor plans are a joke. Building nearly all the units for one person is another joke. That’s not density, that’s anti-family, anti-couple, anti wfh. Like all you need to do is work, get a latte and hit the gym and your favorite watering hole. Wash, rinse, repeat. Gross. Meanwhile the rich live well in enclaves and suburbs. It’s disgusting. I have nothing against the rich or suburbs btw. Even Richard Florida admits cities need families and suburbs and rural areas lend awesomeness in terms of lifestyle diversity. I live in my owner-occupied shared house with 6 others and it’s cheap. No one is crowded. Room for gardens and hobbies and trees. Meanwhile tenant-favored legislation makes like small landlords are evil. Stop the insanity. If people were salmon or orcas, we’d be fixing their habitat instead of making it unbearable.
Great piece that is well-articulated. Something I'd like all of us to do more of us stop acting like we're entitled to or able to stop change. I find both anti-gentrification efforts and NIMBY efforts are based on the false premise that things should never change.
I’m from the perfect “ NIMBY” suburb. ( Upper Arlington Ohio.) An aging, upper middle class, low density, etc. ) They’re in the process of tearing down an old retail strip plaza, and building a high rise of residential/ commercial properties. No low income units. Kinda sad.
Interesting thing Josh mentioned that gets missed alot is that home owners benefit from looser zoning, since their land is worth more if you can build more on it, but condo owners lose out since they are nearly a pure play against housing scarcity.
I have wondered if you see different voting patterns on these issues in cities that are high density renters, vs high density owners, given the incentives at that point are totally flipped.
Look at Josh giving Gavin Newsom a little praise (sorry, couldn’t resist). 😁