In California, YIMBYs helped pass a new package of state laws aimed at creating more affordable housing. Recently, local YIMBYs helped elect self-proclaimed YIMBY state Sen. Scott Wiener, who’s pushing for sweeping pro-housing bills in the state Legislature that will prevent cities and towns from banning apartment construction near transit and job centers.
YIMBYs are also pumped about newly elected Gov. Gavin Newsom, who calls California’s housing crisis “an existential threat to our state’s future.” He promises to create 3.5 million new housing units by 2025 and to begin enforcing a law that requires cities and towns to meet regional housing needs.
IF A NEIGHBORHOOD IN LOS ANGELES most dramatizes the clash between so-called NIMBY and YIMBY values, it’s Venice. Over the last decade, this once-eclectic, mixed-income town has become one of the most expensive neighborhoods in LA. The median rental price: $6,272 per month. The median home value: Almost $1.9 million.
Amenities have changed too, from hippie to hipster. The offices of Google and Snapchat are only a short walk away from Swinger’s apartment. Walk a little farther, and a raw vegan restaurant sells kelp noodles for $18, a coffee shop offers $5 coffee blended with grass-fed butter, and an ice creamery churns $5-per-scoop vegan frozen treats.
But one persistent problem stains this up-and-coming scene: The homeless population in Venice has grown to about 1,000 individuals, and neighbors are complaining about human excrement, property theft, needles, and overflowing trash on their sidewalks.
Because of new legal measures that allow the homeless to camp on public property, police mostly leave the encampments alone. So residents decided to take care of the matter on their own: Recently, a group of residents raised more than $80,000 on a GoFundMe page to landscape a pedestrian pathway that for the last three years had become a mini-tent city. Though the neighbors supporting this project insist it’s not “some anti-homeless agenda,” the goal is clear: Plants and rocks would take the place of human bodies along the pathway.
Over the past few years the number of homeless in California has grown enough to form a separate city—134,000 in 2017, up 14 percent from 2016 according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). More than one-quarter of the nation’s total homeless population lives in California, and LA County alone has more than 50,000 homeless individuals.