Courtesy Adobe Stock

Meet the PHIMYs. The new “Public Housing in My Backyard," faction has entered the scene with a stance on California's SB 827 a pending, YIMBY-backed bill that would allow the production of dense housing in all areas within close proximity to frequent public transit. CityLab writer Benjamin Schneider says the group opposes the bill, because the group is "convinced that unleashing market-rate development will not significantly improve the housing situation for low-income people. Their efforts are instead focused almost exclusively on the production of subsidized, below-market-rate units, and strengthening tenant protections and rent controls for existing residents."

The collision of the NIMBY, YIMBY, and PHIMBY groups, each with its own vision of what’s supposed to be in its backyard, has created a confounding political dynamic. YIMBYs have criticized PHIMBYs for winding up on the same side as wealthy homeowners and rejecting zoning reforms that would likely yield real benefits to their stakeholders. PHIMBYs ding YIMBYs for their religious adherence to supply-side economics and their inability to reach out to, and provide for the needs of, communities that have long been on the losing side of housing policy. NIMBYs, meanwhile, stick mostly to their usual script—density equals traffic and parking woes—but are happy to co-opt the rhetoric of PHIMBYs when it helps them preserve the status quo.

It might seem like PHIMBYs should have a lot of common ground with YIMBYs. They disagree about what kind of housing California should build—whether built by private developers, nonprofits, or the state—but both groups concur that transit-accessible neighborhoods will need to densify to accommodate housing, one way or another. PHIMBYs, however, strongly believe that SB 827 is not the way to do it.

Read More