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Balancing Multifamily Growth: The Case for YIMBY in the Face of NIMBY Concerns

Megan Thomas
October 9, 2023

We recently talked about the big bad landlord myth that has been prominent in the media and conversations within multifamily. Despite the myths, the YIMBY (Yes In My Back Yard) movement has gained momentum across the country, advocating for increased housing development to address the ongoing housing crisis and sky-rocketing rent prices.

However, it often faces opposition from NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) groups who raise legitimate concerns about the impact of new apartment complexes on their neighborhoods. We want to explore how the YIMBY approach can address these concerns and promote responsible and inclusive growth so that we can create more supply and drive down rent prices so others may afford housing.

Property Values

NIMBY Concern: Homeowners worry that the presence of apartment complexes could lead to decreased property values.

Response: While concerns about property values are understandable, there is a chronic shortage of housing throughout the country. Even without a shortage, research suggests that well-designed, mixed-use developments can actually increase property values over time. A diverse housing stock attracts a wider range of residents and potential buyers, which helps sustain and even increase demand and property values over time.

Traffic and Congestion

NIMBY Concern: Increased traffic and congestion due to new apartment developments can strain local infrastructure and lead to more crowded streets.

Response: YIMBY advocates recognize the importance of addressing traffic and congestion concerns. They often call for investments in public transportation and sustainable urban planning to be included in new housing proposals to mitigate the impact of increased density. Moreover, denser neighborhoods can promote walkability and reduce the reliance on cars, ultimately reducing congestion.

Parking Availability  

NIMBY Concern: Homeowners fear that apartment complexes will lead to a shortage of parking spaces.

Response: YIMBY proponents argue that prioritizing housing that’s more affordable doesn't mean neglecting parking issues. Forward-thinking urban planning can include well-designed parking solutions, such as underground or shared parking facilities, to ensure that residents and visitors have adequate parking options.

Density and Overcrowding

NIMBY Concern: Increased population density may strain local resources, public services, and infrastructure capacities.

Response: YIMBY advocates call for responsible and sustainable development that considers and accounts for the capacity of local infrastructure. With proper planning and investment in public services, increased density can benefit communities by supporting local businesses, services, and amenities.

Aesthetic and Neighborhood Character

NIMBY Concern: New apartment complexes might be incongruent with the surrounding homes, impacting the neighborhood's visual appeal and ambiance.

Response: YIMBY proponents argue that good design is crucial. New developments can be designed to fit harmoniously within existing neighborhoods while still accommodating different housing needs. Architectural guidelines and community input can ensure that the new construction aligns with the local character.

School and Educational Resources

NIMBY Concern: An influx of new residents from apartment complexes could overload schools and lead to overcrowded classrooms.

Response: YIMBY supporters emphasize the need for adequate planning to accommodate growing populations. Increased housing can bring more tax revenue, which can be invested in improving and expanding local schools and educational resources to meet the needs of all residents.

Privacy and Noise Concerns

NIMBY Concern: Increased proximity to neighboring apartments may lead to privacy infringements and noise disturbances.

Response: YIMBY advocates understand the importance of privacy and quality of life. Well-designed developments include thoughtful spacing, soundproofing, and landscaping to ensure that residents enjoy both privacy and peace and quiet.

Perceived Negative Impacts on Quality of Life

NIMBY Concern: New apartment developments may negatively impact the overall quality of life, including concerns about crime rates and changes in the social fabric of the neighborhood.

Response: YIMBY proponents argue that diverse communities can foster a stronger sense of social inclusion and cohesion. Crime rates are not necessarily tied to housing type; effective community policing and neighborhood engagement can help maintain safety and community bonds.

While NIMBY’s raise legitimate and real concerns, the YIMBY movement is not about disregarding these concerns. Rather, it seeks to address these concerns through responsible, inclusive, and sustainable growth. By embracing diversity in housing options and promoting smart urban planning, we can create thriving, inclusive neighborhoods that benefit all residents. Balancing the interests of existing communities with the need for housing that’s more affordable is a challenging task, but it's a necessary one if we are to address the housing crisis and build more equitable communities.

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