The Racial Contours of YIMBY/NIMBY Bay Area Gentrification

From HousingWiki

McElroy, Erin, and Szeto, Andrew (2017). "The Racial Contours of YIMBY/NIMBY Bay Area Gentrification." Berkeley Planning Journal, Volume 29, Issue 1, 2017. [1]. 

"In this article, we trace the emergence of the false YIMBY/NIMBY dialectic now dominant in San Francisco housing rights discourse, studying its constitution and material effects. Specifically, we investigate how racial capitalism is constitutive of both YIMBYism and NIMBYism, drawing upon Cedric Robinson’s argument that racialization has always been constitutive of capitalism, and racism is requisite for capitalism’s endurance. We make our argument by drawing upon empirical research conducted by the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project (AEMP), a data analysis, oral history, and critical cartography collective of which we are both a part.  We also draw upon collaborative research between AEMP and community-based housing rights nonprofits and local housing justice organizing efforts, as well as literary and cultural analysis. Such a methodological approach facilitates the unearthing of the racial logics undergirding YIMBYism, pointing to the need for alternative analytics to theorize and mobilize against heightened forms of racialized dispossession. We begin by outlining San Francisco’s YIMBY and NIMBY genealogies, and then proceed to unravel the basic statistical logic underpinning YIMBYism. In doing so, we introduce an additional analytic that we argue is requisite for deconstructing YIMBY algorithms: aesthetic desires of wealthy newcomers. We suggest that the YIMBY “build, baby, build” housing solution fails when architectural and neighborhood fantasies are taken into account. We then study how racialized surveillance informs not only the NIMBY but also the YIMBY gaze, arguing that both camps are ultimately tethered to racial capitalism’s liberal legacies."


from [Hammill 2016]: 

Hammill: To a lot of people, it probably seems like a strange alliance - renters and developers.
Trauss: "It does seem like a strange alliance. One reason why it's a strange alliance, sometimes people say, "developer." What they mean is, "landlord." I don't consider landlords to be developers. They don't make anything new. They just manage something that exists. So yeah, if when you hear the word, "developer," you think of landlords, then it doesn't make sense.
     "The same people who were fighting to save low-rent apartment buildings and SROs [single-room occupancy units] are still in the pro-tenant movement. And they've just spent decades fighting development, and I think they just got confused. Like, they lost sight of the point of it all." 





  • Clark, Laura1. "YIMBY Action Upzoning Working Group Letter". (2017?). Web archive copy accessed 10 November 2019. 
    1referred to in [McElroy & Szeto 2017] by subsequent name, Laura Foote. 
  • Hammill, Luke. "'Yes In My Back Yard': A housing conversation with @SFyimby." The Oregonian/OregonLive, posted Apr 15, 2016, Updated Jan 09, 2019.
  • McElroy, Erin, and Szeto, Andrew (2017). "The Racial Contours of YIMBY/NIMBY Bay Area Gentrification." Berkeley Planning Journal, Volume 29, Issue 1, 2017. [2].