Seattle’s Most Influential People 2018: The YIMBYs

The politically diverse movement has an active Seattle presence that is focused on saying yes to new density in urban neighborhoods

By Erica C. Barnett

yimby

October 22, 2018

This article originally appeared in the November 2018 issue of Seattle Magazine.

This article appears in print in the November 2018 issue, as part of the Most Influential People of the Year feature. Click here to subscribe.

YIMBY—the acronym stands for “yes in my backyard”—started as a national rebuke to so-called NIMBYs (“not in my backyard”), residents who oppose development in their neighborhoods. Today, the politically diverse movement has an active Seattle presence that is focused on saying yes to new density in urban neighborhoods. In the past year, YIMBYs have helped elect two council members: freshman Teresa Mosqueda and incumbent Lorena González, both of whom faced anti-density opponents.

They’ve advocated to allow homeowners to build second and third units on their property; pushed the city to convert the Talaris Conference Center site in Laurelhurst into affordable, high-density housing; and testified in favor of tiny-house villages to serve as temporary encampments that provide shelter to homeless Seattleites. And they also have helped to reframe the debate about a proposed affordable housing development in Magnolia’s Fort Lawton. 

Battles over zoning and housing move slowly, so the true impact of today’s YIMBY activism might not be visible for years. What’s clear is that YIMBYs are framing important debates—and changing what it means to be a neighborhood activist. 

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Edited by Linda Morgan