YIMBYs Are Useful Idiots of the Development Lobby


Last month, Katie Roberts-Hull from YIMBY Melbourne posted an article in The Guardian complaining that heritage laws are thwarting housing supply.

“Our fondness for nostalgic aesthetics and preserving character should not overshadow the need for more housing”, Roberts-Hull wrote.

“Often, the loudest voices against new development come from a privileged few who already own property in these neighbourhoods”.

“Any policy that limits development in established suburbs promotes unsustainable outward sprawl”.

“Unfortunately, our heritage policies aim to keep many parts of our city trapped in a moment in time, no matter the cost of doing so”, Roberts-Hull said.

On Tuesday, Guy Rundle penned an article in Crikey lambasting YIMBYs for being both unrealistic and unreasonable.

“The YIMBY movement is raucous, energetic, and bold — and also utterly misdirected in its critique, poor in its analysis, serves its ostensible cause badly, but possibly serves some shadowy masters well”, Rundle writes.

“Every target the YIMBYs has is wrong”, Rundle argues. “Their movement seems to be as much a political-cultural one, with a bit of intergenerational warfare going on”.

“It is utterly indifferent to the actual process of how things get built and the fact that property-as-asset and speculation will always divert production from real need”.

“Some of them are apolitical knowledge class elites who identify with capitalism in its current form, want to be part of it, and blame the state for the market’s failures”.

“Others from the Labor side appear to have adopted the Labor nihilism, a renunciation of actually shaping how we live in favour of being nothing other than a servant of capital”.

“One wonders if some YIMBY activity is a “softening up” tactic for what Victorian Labor is about to do — remove planning powers from local councils altogether”.

“Orienting your politics to simply facilitating capital is the “trickle-down” theory from the left — the desperate idea that if you let them have open slather, accidentally some small proportion of what they build might make it to market”, Rundle claims.

Well said Guy Rundle.

My main complaint against the YIMBY movement is that they only look at the supply-side of the equation, and only superficially.

Read the rest of this piece at MacroBusiness.

Leith van Onselen is co-founder of MacroBusiness.com.au and Chief Economist at the MB Fund and MB Super. Leith has previously worked at the Australian Treasury, Victorian Treasury and Goldman Sachs.

Melbourne city skyline from the perspective of Port Melbourne, by Bob Tan via Wikimedia under CC 4.0 License.