Controversy is stirring up in San Francisco, a town that is overcrowded but still lacks enough housing for its population, says New York Times reporter Connor Dougherty. A local activist, Sonja Trauss, who heads the San Francisco Bay Area Renters’ Federation (BARF), thinks the solution to the problem is to build even more housing.
The group wants companies to build more housing of all kinds, from subsidized affordable apartments to high-end condos, and anyone that doesn't like the potential solution can just get over themselves, says the self-proclaimed anarchist: “You have to support building, even when it’s a type of building you hate,” she said. “Is it ugly? Get over yourself. Is it low-income housing? Get over yourself. Is it luxury housing? Get over yourself. We really need everything right now.”
The group speaks at government meetings, protests against protesters who try to fight new developments, and has even hired a lawyer to sue suburbs for not building enough. Trauss and her group represent a new kind of "Yimby" party of young professionals that feel priced out of the housing market.
Across the country, a reversal in urban flight has ignited debates over gentrification, wealth, generational change and the definition of the modern city. It’s a familiar battle in suburbs, where not-in-my-backyard homeowners are an American archetype. In San Francisco, though, things get weird. Here the tech boom is clashing with tough development laws and resentment from established residents who want to choke off growth to prevent further change. Ms. Trauss’s cause, more or less, is to make life easier for real estate developers by rolling back zoning regulations and environmental rules. Her opponents are a generally older group of progressives who worry that an influx of corporate techies is turning a city that nurtured the Beat Generation into a gilded resort for the rich.