For decades, developers have been seen as the greedy, profit-driven bad guys, while environmentalists are thought of as those trying to stop developers from building at all costs. But when it comes to housing, new-school environmentalists in San Francisco are becoming increasingly in favour of dense, walkable neighbourhoods that allow people to ditch their cars.
In a city where new housing is desperately needed, developers are getting some measure of public support on their side, specifically from a movement known as the YIMBYs (Yes, In My Backyard!). YIMBYs are mostly environmentally conscious Millennials who, angered by the urban housing shortage, are demanding to put roofs over heads, get people out of cars and drive down rents.
YIMBYs argue that, if you slow down development in cities, houses will sprawl out over farmland and people will end up having to make longer commutes.
“You can’t legitimately call yourself an environmentalist unless you support dense housing in walkable neighbourhoods with public transportation”, says Scott Weiner, one of the most powerful voices in the YIMBY movement.
The question is, however, whether profit-driven builders can provide equitable, environmentally-friendly housing.