Tuesday, April 17, 2018


Richardson has plenty of experience with NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard). Homeowner ire at apartment construction is never more than a zoning change and construction permit away. Still, YIMBY (Yes In My Back Yard) rules city government, as those zoning changes and construction permits are never more than a developer's request away. What's new? California continues to be on the leading edge of societal change, adding PHIMBY to the lexicon of urban development.

PHIMBY stands for "Public Housing In My Back Yard." PHIMBY advocates argue that urban growth requires not just more density in our housing, but more mixed-income and affordable housing throughout our communities, with more subsidized, below-market-rate units not just in poor and segregated neighborhoods but everywhere. Market-driven developments like CityLine and Palisades add to the overall stock of housing that will be needed to accommodate population growth (some forecasts have Texas population doubling by 2050), but they fall short of meeting the needs for affordable housing. Free market solutions are not sufficient in meeting this need. As a leader of the PHIMBY movement in California puts it, "Development capital and their investors are not in the businesses of housing people. That’s not what they’re there for. They’re there to make a profit."

In short, no one is championing subsidized housing throughout our cities. Well, that's not quite true. California now has a PHIMBY political movement. And, to be fair, Dallas has Opportunity Dallas, which is pushing for the right things. And even Richardson has a lonely voice, albeit one with no influence. Maybe someday our own city will recognize the need for an "Opportunity Richardson" as well.

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