So Twitter smart person CentralNJYimby yelled at me for my last post, with some valid points, and some downright misreadings that I am not going to let go. First off, he or she called me out for being snarky and glib. I was snarky; I wasn’t glib. I was snarkier than usual because I’ve been very sick all summer, and blogging/research feels like a burden, and having to deal with a shitstorm about how I hate all of YIMBYkind whenever I post about my interview subjects is tiring. I apologize. I am craaaabbbbbby. (Being sick is no excuse, so, again, sorry).
Please.Stop. Ascribing. Attitudes. Expressed. In. Interviews. With. Other. People. To. Me. Personally.
My project is very, very heavy on anti-development sentiment right now because I have to work with the tides of LA politics. There is a lot of anti-displacement organizing around specific projects right now, and that means I have to move right away to get talking with those people involved right now before the decisions get made and they disperse. The YIMBY and pro-development people are generally people I know or professionals whose interviews can be put off; they will be around for awhile.
That’s great, but whether or not YIMBY advocates have the right values/outward behavior isn’t really the problem. Sure there’s some name-calling like “schill for developers”, but there always is name-calling, and I doubt it’s important.
Instead, the conflict is an ontological difference about how development works, and I think this difference is important. YIMBY advocates in LA (in general) have promoted infill development as a way to increase housing supply and, in the long term, lower rents.
My anti-d interviews believe that new infill will raise rents. This conclusion is clear from the interviews, but also every other source of information I have, ranging from mailers to meeting attendance to social media.
Those are big differences in assumptions about how the world works and how the future will unfold, regardless of intentions or motivations, and regardless of accuracy.
People have said to me :”show them the data” etc. You can do that. But among my interviews so far, only person has any college at all. These are not social scientists. What’s convincing for one group isn’t necessarily so to others.
Nah. Not trolling–tail twisting, but not trolling. There is way too much celebrating market-rate housing development. I have nothing against market rate development. Let me repeat: got nothing against market-rate housing.
It’s one thing to have high-fives among your true believers about market-rate development on various YIMBY groups or meetings. That’s no big deal. It’s another to have those being the only sorts of developments that get the glossy-brochure treatment from big LA-area developers, Metro, or ULI.
We had a lively online discussion about successful anti-displacement efforts, most of which were in San Francisco examples. There’s a problem with that: it’s not in South LA or anywhere similar. We had a very nice suggestion about a community land trust going in Santa Ana, which could be a very nice exemplar for Southern California.
I don’t think this a false dichotomy: in politics, we don’t treat all claims of injustice as equally valid, nor do we treat all claims about benefits and harms as equally valid. Politics is to some degree a deliberative process for sorting which claims have merit and which, even if people have an interest in that claim, have to be set aside for higher priorities.
The two examples Central NJ Yimby gives here both strike me as valid objections to development in Black communities in South LA: concerns about displacement and nativist concerns. I think residents of Black communities also have legitimate reasons to wish to avoid white residents, including cultural preservation and the simple need for freedom of association independent of white majorities. Black neighborhoods have been shrinking in LA for decades. Does that ever stop?
That said, there are definitely claims about harms and benefits that simply do not carry much moral weight. We had, at one point, a neighborhood in Newport Beach trying to stop something like a 10-bed hospice home for seniors. 8 bed? I could look it up in my media archive, but I am lazy. The objection? It would hurt home values. Come on. It’s unfortunate if some lower home values occur, but that is not sufficient harm to outweigh the need for housing.
When thinking about what is reasonable and what is less so, history and context matter deeply. In my specific example, black homeowners and renters in South LA have had one harm after another: subprime lending, foreclosures, freeway building, oppressive and in some instances corrupt policing, and so on.
There’s nothing glib about this. I’m just reporting what my interviews have said so far. Maybe I’ll hit more dialogue about cultural changes in South LA with more interviews; maybe I am not asking the right questions yet; maybe they are not willing to discuss these issues with me. Or maybe the people I am interviewing are so worried about losing their homes, they think cultural loss is a foregone conclusion. There are many, many potential reasons why this theme hasn’t emerged in the interviews yet.
As to the “Uncle Tom” comment; certainly, this is a problem in general with development in Black communities, but I can’t really comment on whether the person that this interviewee referred to in this manner really deserves the epithet in this instance or not. It’s really not for me to judge that: the person who said it said it; it’s an indicator of what he expressed, whether accurate or not, about an individual, and indicates subjectively the force of his feelings about the subject.
Whether his is an isolated sentiment, I just don’t know yet.
Which brings me to this:
How in the sam hell did you get “Lisa thinks YIMBY people are negligent about displacement” from what I wrote?????? Let me repeat it here:
Since I am a scholar, there are actual rules that guide my inquiry about neighborhood opposition instead of allowing me the luxury of concluding that anybody who doesn’t think the way I do is just an evil selfish bastard. Reviewers tend to notice such assumptions and treat them unkindly.
Is there anything about YIMBY in that paragraph? Anything about them at all, let alone their negligence? Did you mean to cut and paste something else and post this by mistake?
Because this statement has *nothing* to with YIMBY or NIMBY or Jesus or housing or anything other than why I am doing these interviews and the standards of evidence I have to deal with.
I can’t assume I know what people think. I don’t even get to conclude I know what anti-d people think just from the interviews. I have to triangulate from text put out by the various organizations, contributions to listservs, what’s said in public meetings, transcripts from council deliberation.
All that said, be honest: how often do we see people in politics saying “So-and-so only cares about X.” YIMBYs are not, as far as I know, any more guilty of this than anybody else. “Liberals say they care about immigrants, but they only want the cheap labor to work in their gardens.” “Conservatives say they care about children, but they only care about tax breaks.” Certainly, I see various people do this in YIMBY/anti-YIMBY arguments. “They say they care about displacement, but they only want to stop development for themselves.” It’s been leveled at me: “she doesn’t want anything to change.”
We don’t know these things. We think we do, but that’s just hubris. The point of research is to dig deeper. I do *not* believe that YIMBY advocates merely want to schill for developers. But the blog posts and social media I have analyzed so far shows different emphases about what YIMBY advocates seek to accomplish. This isn’t bad; it’s not wrong. It’s the same for *every* political coalition, but I need to understand those differences that if I am going to write a credible history of what has happened in LA for the past few years–period.
This is all I got.