Monday, November 13

Is YIMBY Right For JAX?

When it comes to housing and economic development, NIMBY is often the word used. It means Not In My Back Yard, and you've probably felt this way at some point. I was surprised to see that another city that's experiencing growing pains is embracing something called YIMBY, or Yes In My Back Yard.

This is an interesting idea, as its intent is to add housing in areas that already have housing. It's different from the practice I used to call Whitewashing back in Milwaukee, where young professionals moved into existing homes near downtown and fixed them up. I'm not sure if the Bay Area (where YIMBY is taking hold) plans on tearing down old homes or just finding space somehow, but it might be something for us to watch.

Most people have a negative perception of urban sprawl, but there's an even more negative perception of crime-filled areas of town. What YIMBY looks to do is increase density of higher-end neighborhoods. This is partially because it's middle-to-upper-class folks pushing for it. These YIMBYists aren't looking to revive an area or build new further out--they want new housing where current nice housing exists. Let's say the idea would be to chop up Boone Park or Fishweir Park in Avondale in order to add high-density, high-end housing. In the process, you probably redesign the parks. You wouldn't want to get rid of parks because that's probably what helps keep home values near half a million bucks in the area. But you get the idea. And YIMBY folks aren't really about housing for the masses--just for themselves, so you don't have to worry about a low-income project in the park.

I'd like to say I don't care one way or the other on this one. I am sure people living in Avondale or other similar locales don't even want to consider it, and there's so much empty space that it probably won't fly around here. But I've seen how scary some of the empty space looks, and how far away from anything some of it is.

Full disclosure: I'm not young or rich, so I'm not the person to worry about, but I can see the appeal to these young professionals, as well as a city that's probably sick of losing the wealthy tax base to St. Johns County.

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