ALPERN AT LARGE--There's a lot of us who have been, remain, and will be volunteers.
We fight for, and risk alienation from our NIMBY neighbors for, the push for light rail, and safe multimodal commutes, but want neighborhood preservation as much as we want REAL affordable housing, and FAMILY-oriented housing, and REAL transit-oriented development. So, the response to articles like this one, and efforts by true volunteers is that we're all "really NIMBY's" and hate poor/young people.
And you'd be wrong.
We've got families, and we're acutely aware of the need for our children to survive and thrive in either the state of California, or any other state of the Union. We also want our children to have families, and care deeply about the needs and dreams of our neighbors, too.
1) The YIMBY's portray themselves as all-volunteer, perhaps non-profit, and desperate victims trying to eke out a living in the middle of a cold-hearted, income inequality-laced atmosphere by "those old people, who had it so darned easy". You might think that those trying to densify AND keep sustainable communities are just plain evil.
And you'd be wrong--the blood, sweat and tears we've shed to buy and keep our homes, apartments, condos, etc. has not kept us from having to pay through the nose, withhold retirement, and work 2-3 jobs just to stay afloat financially, while some of these so-called YIMBY's have been downright nasty.
Furthermore, those fighting for updated Community Plans and FOLLOWING ENVIRONMENTAL LAWS for sustainable communities, including SUSTAINABLE densification, are much more aware of the needs of young people, and those trying to survive in states that claim they're "caring" but are mean as hell to the middle class.
2) The YIMBY's portray themselves as poor, and in need of help against well-funded homeowner groups. You might think that THEY are in the role of David, and that those evil old people are in the role of Goliath.
And you'd be wrong. The YIMBY's are often very rich, and funded by well-heeled developers, builders, and special interests (and often foreign-funded) that are into housing for rich techies, not senior citizens or students or young folks trying to survive in the big city.
The David/Goliath narrative portrayed by YIMBY's usually has the latter being Goliath, and not the other way around, with homeowners AND renters trying to compromise but also preserve their neighborhoods wondering how the devil they'll come up with the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars needed to fight Big Tech and their paid-off city governments.
3) The YIMBY's want to portray themselves as all-volunteer, and non-profit, and doing it for a worthy cause (kind of like Friends4Expo Transit was, or the Salvation Army is). You might think that those folks in groups like, say...Abundant Housing LA are doing their work without outside funding.
And you'd be wrong. It's all about the money, and whether it's Silicon Valley, corrupt politicians, multinational organizations looking for cheap and global labor, or maybe just naive billionaires who feel the need for making up for their own efforts that created income inequality, this effort does NOT show up in a vacuum.
Because the rent IS too darned high, and the home ownership costs ARE too darned high, and our Community Plans DO need to include locations for seniors to "age in place", and for affordable housing to both students and workforce individuals.
But if there's a pathetic lack of family-oriented housing, and if there's a pathetic lack of parks and open space, and if there's a pathetic lack of supportive infrastructure for housing (including water and mobility-related mitigations), and if there's a pathetic explosion of gentrification from all the YIMBY causes, then it might be time to rethink all these causes.
Because there ARE really NIMBY's, who certainly need to be brought to bear. And there ARE real YIMBY's who "get it" with respect to compromise and the need for sober and realistic development, and with appropriate and sustainable infrastructure to support that development.
I've met 'em both--can't say I like the NIMBY’s and can't say I don't respect the YIMBY's who behave and calculate like adults.
But you might think that the YIMBY's represent a new, pure-hearted form of grassroots advocacy that represents the little guy/gal.
And you'd be wrong.
(Kenneth S. Alpern, M.D. is a dermatologist who has served in clinics in Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside Counties, and is a proud husband and father to two cherished children and a wonderful wife. He is also a Westside Village Zone Director and Board member of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Planning and Outreach Committees, and currently is Co-Chair of its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure Committee. He was co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee and chaired the nonprofit Transit Coalition and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. He also co-chairs the grassroots Friends of the Green Line at www.fogl.us. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Dr. Alpern.)
Tags: Kenneth Alpern, Alpern at Large, NIMBYs, YIMBYs, community, wrong