Why they fight

San Francisco Chronicle (Sunday) - - FROM THE COVER -

YIMBY Ac­tion, the pi­o­neer­ing pro-hous­ing group, has about 2,100 mem­bers and chap­ters in San Fran­cisco city neigh­bor­hoods. Here are some of the neigh­bor­hood YIMBYs who ad­vo­cate for more res­i­den­tial de­vel­op­ment in their ar­eas.

Jane Na­toli

Neigh­bor­hood: In­ner Rich­mond

Oc­cu­pa­tion: Fi­nan­cial crimes in­ves­ti­ga­tor

Story: Na­toli, 37, con­sid­ers her­self lucky, pay­ing $1,441 for a one-bed­room apart­ment in a rent­con­trolled build­ing. She had been liv­ing in the Rich­mond for a few years when she no­ticed friends be­gan leav­ing the Bay Area for less-ex­pen­sive places, so Na­toli started fol­low­ing hous­ing pol­i­tics. She be­lieves in al­low­ing the kind of fourand six-story apart­ment build­ings that were built all over the Sun­set and Rich­mond be­fore the neigh­bor­hoods were down­zoned in the 1980s.

In her words: “It’s about of­fer­ing up a vi­sion. What does that vi­sion look like? It looks like the city we al­ready live in. I live in a 16-unit build­ing on Sixth Av­enue be­tween Ful­ton and Cabrillo. It’s not too big for my neigh­bor­hood. It’s three sto­ries. You can’t build any­thing like that any­more. Just open­ing up the chance to build some­thing like that would make a huge boon for the west side. It’s sim­ple den­sity — the miss­ing mid­dle.”

Steven Buss

Neigh­bor­hood: The Mis­sion

Oc­cu­pa­tion: Soft­ware en­gi­neer at Google

Story: Buss, 32, had lived in Los An­ge­les be­fore mov­ing back to San Fran­cisco in 2016 with his fi­ancé. Af­ter the re­la­tion­ship fal­tered Buss had to find a new place. He stayed tem­po­rar­ily with his ex-fi­ance and then with his par­ents in Pe­taluma, be­fore mov­ing into a twobed­room apart­ment at 24th and Hamp­shire streets in the Mis­sion. His room is $1,800 a month. “Ev­ery­thing be­low that price was ei­ther a liv­ing room or didn’t al­low cats.”

In his words: “I don’t know a sin­gle per­son un­der 35 who owns in San Fran­cisco. I don’t know a sin­gle per­son un­der 35 with­out a room­mate in San Fran­cisco. We don’t get to live by our­selves. We are all just try­ing to make it work. I find it ex­tremely frus­trat­ing that the Plan­ning Com­mis­sion is al­most en­tirely made up of mem­bers who are se­curely housed. San Fran­cisco is 70 per­cent renters, and the peo­ple mak­ing our land use de­ci­sions are al­most all own­ers. They don’t re­flect the makeup of the city.”

Caro­line Bas

Neigh­bor­hood: The Rich­mond

Oc­cu­pa­tion: Con­sul­tant at ac­count­ing and tax firm Deloitte

Story: Bas, 33, owns and lives in a 700-square­foot con­do­minium in a 15-unit build­ing at Cal­i­for­nia and Ar­guello with her part­ner and daugh­ter. She got in­volved in hous­ing ad­vo­cacy af­ter both her sib­lings moved away be­cause they couldn’t af­ford the Bay Area. That made Bas the main care­taker for her dis­abled mother, who she says has been evicted three times in the past five years and has schizophre­nia. It’s get­ting harder and harder to find a place to move her mother. “She is al­ways the first one who gets kicked out when the land­lord de­cides to re­model.”

In her words: “When I do talk to my — for lack of a bet­ter term — NIMBY neigh­bors, they say it’s so re­fresh­ing to speak to a Mil­len­nial. If we YIMBYs some­times live in an echo cham­ber, they do too. There is not enough pos­i­tive dia­logue be­tween the dif­fer­ent groups.”

Gio­vanna Gue­vara

Neigh­bor­hood: Sun­ny­side Oc­cu­pa­tion: Re­searcher at NASA’s Ames Re­search Cen­ter

Story: Gue­vara, 31, grew up in Oak­dale (Stanis­laus County) and came to San Fran­cisco to at­tend col­lege. She lives with room­mates in an apart­ment near City Col­lege. She says that she is for­tu­nate to have found an af­ford­able apart­ment but that she could never leave “be­cause I’d have to leave the Bay Area. I could never move any­where else in the city. If I ever wanted to live with­out room­mates, I couldn’t do that.” She said she wants “den­sity that com­ple­ments the neigh­bor­hood.”

In her words: “One of the things that I’ve no­ticed in talk­ing to other YIMBYs is how many of our par­ents are NIMBYs. I’ll talk to my mother about some NIMBYs group stop­ping a hous­ing project for some pre­pos­ter­ous rea­son, and she’ll be like, ‘It’s good they stopped that.’ I’m like ‘OK, Mom. I don’t know where to move with this con­ver­sa­tion.’ It’s a gen­er­a­tional thing, which I don’t think it should be.”

Phillip Kober­nick

Neigh­bor­hood: The Haight Oc­cu­pa­tion: Alameda County trans­porta­tion plan­ner Story: Kober­nick, 32, lives in a three-bed­room apart­ment with two room­mates in their late 20s. The to­tal rent is $3,500. He said that ide­ally his apart­ment would be oc­cu­pied by a fam­ily with kids, not a group of un­re­lated adults who would all be hap­pier liv­ing alone in a stu­dio or one bed­room. Kob­er­ick has been ac­tively push­ing hous­ing at four sites in his neigh­bor­hood: the McDon­ald’s site at Haight and Stanyan streets — where the city plans to build af­ford­able hous­ing — two sites on Divisadero and one on Ful­ton Street. “All four ex­am­ples are ex­am­ples of in­fill de­vel­op­ment with no dis­place­ment. It’s tak­ing un­der­uti­lized places like gas sta­tions and ac­ti­vat­ing it as a place for peo­ple to live.”

In his words: NIMBYs “say traf­fic is bad, that Oak Street is con­gested. Their at­ti­tude is, ‘Why are these new peo­ple com­ing?’ They just want to put a wall up around the neigh­bor­hood. They don’t want new peo­ple. It’s bru­tal but it’s re­al­ity. One guy told us he didn’t want to live in Hong Kong. Is that what the Haight is go­ing to be­come if we al­low a few sev­en­story apart­ment build­ings?”

David Te­jeda

Neigh­bor­hood: Sun­ny­side Oc­cu­pa­tion: Con­trac­tor Story: Te­jada stands out in a room full of YIMBYs. At 70, he’s twice as old as most of the peo­ple ac­tive in the move­ment. He’s also the owner of a home he bought two decades ago near the Bal­boa Reser­voir. It’s a neigh­bor­hood where many res­i­dents are op­posed to a re­de­vel­op­ment plan call­ing for about 1,100 new hous­ing units.

In his words: “A lot peo­ple in my age group have the at­ti­tude, ‘I’ve got mine. If you don’t have yours, it’s your own fault.’ At the same time, they com­plain that their grown kids are liv­ing in their base­ment. Well, if there were more places for them to live they wouldn’t have to stay in the base­ment. I’m a firm be­liever that you don’t pull the draw­bridge up.”

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