YIMBY Summer Gets Heated

PLUS: Salt Lake City Exploring Minimum Lot Size Reform

Welcome YIMBYs!

As the summer heats up, so does the debate and action in YIMBYLAND. This week, we've rounded up the top stories that are shaping our current (and future?) cities.

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In this week’s recap:

  • California YIMBY Announces Support of East Solano Plan, Dividing YIMBYs

  • Senate Greenlights Advanced Nuclear Revolution

  • Coastal Cities Continue to Bear the Brunt of the Housing Crisis

  • Salt Lake City Exploring Massive Minimum Lot Size Reduction

  • Taking Down Exclusionary Zoning: A Constitutional Perspective

  • Gen Z Puts Housing Affordability at the Top of the Ballot
     

THE WEEKLY RECAP

HOUSING

Rendering of California Forever

California YIMBY's endorsement of the East Solano Plan has sparked significant debate within the pro-housing community. The plan, funded by tech executives and venture capitalists, aims to create a new city for 400,000 people, emphasizing high-density, mixed-use development with a minimum density of 20 dwelling units per acre. The idea is that while the fight for upzoning and infill drags on in cities across the bay area, the East Solano Plan can help satisfy the dire need for new housing in the region. However, YIMBY critics of the proposal like Melissa Breach emphasize the need for infill development in existing cities, pointing out that the plan contradicts core YIMBY principles by focusing on greenfield development far from San Francisco. Proponents for the project, like Nolan Gray defended the plan by writing an extensive thread addressing the numerous concerns of the opposition and emphasizing its potential to create a sustainable, walkable community.

Healthy debate is important for building a lasting movement, but it’s equally important to remember that YIMBYs agree on 95% of things and most importantly on the goals of zoning reform, housing abundance, and crushing NIMBYism.

NUCLEAR

Rendering of TerraPower’s Natrium Reactor

The U.S. Senate's recent passage of the ADVANCE Act marks a transformative step in the nation's energy landscape, heralding a new era for nuclear power. With a sweeping 88-2 vote, this bill aims to cut through the bureaucratic red tape that has long hampered the deployment of advanced nuclear technologies. This bipartisan effort showcases a rare moment of unity, driven by a shared vision of a decarbonized future and energy security.

The bill's provisions, which include reducing regulatory costs and creating incentives for next-generation reactors, promise to energize companies like TerraPower, which is striving to innovate with its Natrium reactor in Wyoming. As President Biden prepares to sign the bill into law, the promise of a robust nuclear future stands on the cusp of becoming a reality after decades of active neglect.

HOUSING CRISIS

Despite a surge in home construction in 2022, the U.S. housing deficit has widened to 4.5 million units, highlighting a persistent affordability crisis. Major metro areas like Boston, Sacramento, and Portland are among the hardest hit. While 2023 saw the highest number of home completions since 2007, it still fell short of meeting the increasing demand from new families. With a nice YIMBY-pilled take, Zillow concludes that in order truly address this shortfall, we must implement zoning reforms, streamline building permits, and reduce parking requirements to boost housing supply effectively.

POLICY

Glendale’s Existing Suburban Landscape

Salt Lake City is exploring a bold solution to its housing crisis by proposing to reduce minimum lot sizes from 5,000 potentially all the way down to 1,400 square feet. This change, championed by local YIMBY group Salt Lake City Neighbors for More Neighbors, aims to unlock the potential of underutilized land in neighborhoods like Glendale and the Avenues. By allowing smaller lots, the city could see the development of 4,000 new affordable homes, offering a lifeline to middle-income families priced out of the current market.

HOUSING POLICY

Exclusionary zoning, which restricts housing types and densities, contributes significantly to America's housing crisis. Joshua Braver and Ilya Somin argued this week in The Atlantic that these regulations violate the Fifth Amendment's takings clause, as they limit property use without just compensation. By framing exclusionary zoning as a constitutional violation, this perspective could unite the YIMBY big-tent and push for judicial intervention to invalidate restrictive zoning laws, ultimately increasing housing supply and economic mobility while reducing segregation. Really interesting read.

POLLS

A recent Redfin survey reveals that housing affordability is the top concern for Gen Z voters, surpassing even abortion rights and the economy. As housing prices and rents soar, Gen Z faces immense challenges breaking into the market. The survey found that a staggering 91% of Gen Z respondents prioritize housing affordability when voting. This demographic's prioritization of affordable housing reflects their struggle with high costs and the desire for policies that address this crisis. Their voting patterns signal a growing demand for political action to alleviate housing pressures and an opportunity for political parties looking to reach Gen Z voters.

INTERESTING CONTENT

WATCH

YIMBY: Youtube In My BackYard

Defunctland: Kid Cities

Defunctland: Kid Cities (hilarious look into kids larping as adults)

THAT’S A WRAP

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