It’s like Woodstock, but for housing activists.
Over the past two years the rising cost of housing in the San Francisco Bay Area and elsewhere has created a budding movement of pro-development “Yimby” (yes in my backyard) groups that advocate for building more housing in hopes of easing exploding rents and home prices.
On Friday a group of 200 or so activists from around the country, as well as Britain and Canada, convened in Oakland for the “Yimbytown” conference.
“The goal is to get people together on how to build housing and bring those ideas back to those people’s cities,” said Kieryn Darkwater, an organizer with East Bay Forward, a pro-development group whose members are regulars at City Council meetings in Oakland, Berkeley and other east-of-San Francisco cities.
The conference is another sign of momentum for the Yimby movement, which has clashed with the Bay Area’s liberal establishment.
A year ago most Yimby groups were tiny ragtag operations, but today they are pushing bills in Sacramento and have attracted enough money from Silicon Valley and elsewhere that many activists have been able to quit their day jobs to do politics full time.
Scott Wiener, the state senator from San Francisco who is pushing a bill that aims to force California cities to ramp up housing production, spoke at the conference Saturday.
This is actually the second Yimby meeting. The first such gathering was last year in Boulder, Colorado, and was organized by a group that included Will Toor, Boulder’s former mayor.
“It is great to see a second national Yimby conference bringing together activists from this burgeoning movement,” Toor said. “It is clearer than ever that if we really care about solving big national issues like inequality and climate change, tackling the lack of housing in thriving urban areas, caused largely by local zoning restrictions, is key.”