The Berkeley Planning Journal is an annual peer-reviewed journal published by graduate students in the Department of City and Regional Planning (DCRP) at the University of California, Berkeley since 1985.
Volume 29, Issue 1, 2017
In this article, we trace the emergence of the false YIMBY/NIMBY dialectic now dominant in San Francisco housing rights discourse, studying its constitution and material effects. Specifically, we investigate how racial capitalism is constitutive of both YIMBYism and NIMBYism, drawing upon Cedric Robinson’s argument that racialization has always been constitutive of capitalism, and racism is requisite for capitalism’s endurance. We make our argument by drawing upon empirical research conducted by the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project (AEMP), a data analysis, oral history, and critical cartography collective of which we are both a part. We also draw upon collaborative research between AEMP and community-based housing rights nonprofits and local housing justice organizing efforts, as well as literary and cultural analysis. Such a methodological approach facilitates the unearthing of the racial logics undergirding YIMBYism, pointing to the need for alternative analytics to theorize and mobilize against heightened forms of racialized dispossession. We begin by outlining San Francisco’s YIMBY and NIMBY genealogies, and then proceed to unravel the basic statistical logic underpinning YIMBYism. In doing so, we introduce an additional analytic that we argue is requisite for deconstructing YIMBY algorithms: aesthetic desires of wealthy newcomers. We suggest that the YIMBY “build, baby, build” housing solution fails when architectural and neighborhood fantasies are taken into account. We then study how racialized surveillance informs not only the NIMBY but also the YIMBY gaze, arguing that both camps are ultimately tethered to racial capitalism’s liberal legacies.
Across South Asia, women migrate for employment within their home countries, within the region, and to more distant destination countries. Despite regular and ongoing transit, they are subject to restrictions on their mobility. How do migrant women workers confront and resist these restrictions? This question calls for an analytical approach that considers both the nature of the restrictive forces they confront and the resistance strategies they bring to bear. Scholarship on governmentality traces how nation states, as sovereigns, deploy a dual system of thought and management to exert control over populations and the nations they inhabit. Gendered migration governance at the legal and policy level maps one of many forces that restrict women’s mobility across the region. Within South Asia, social control over women is informed by not only legal, but also political, cultural, and ideological discourses that are anchored in patriarchal social systems. Women workers migrate through varied “borderscapes,” landscapes traversed by competing discourses and practices that seek to define parameters of mobility (Rajaram and Grundy-Warr 2007). Based on fieldwork conducted between October 2015 and July 2016, this paper considers how local, national, and regional networks of migrant women in South Asia circumvent restrictive policies and resist patriarchal binaries. Examining their modes of resistance, this study lends critical insight into how gendered technologies of power are experienced and unmade.
Housing is Essential: A Commonsense Paradigm Shift to Solve the Urban Displacement and Racial Injustice Crisis
This article addresses one of the biggest tests of our society: the urban displacement and racial injustice crisis. Today’s urban displacement crisis has reached a social change tipping point, but most solutions being advanced fail to prevent immediate displacement. This article debunks the prevailing strategies focused on building more market rate or affordable housing units as being able to effectively prevent displacement. It examines the impacts of urban displacement on the collective self-interest to advance climate change and racial equity. Lastly, the article provides an alternative vision for a paradigm shift based upon an understanding that housing is essential to public goods like clean air, clean water, and K-12 education. California and Oakland, California are used as case studies since they are the epicenter of the national housing unaffordability crisis and because of the authors’ work as policy change practitioners designing and implementing anti-displacement solutions in these communities.
Revisiting the Costs of Developing New Subsidized Housing: The Relative Import of Construction Wage Standards and Nonprofit Development
Previous research into the costs of publicly subsidized new housing developments has found that nonprofit developers and program requirements to pay construction workers prevailing wages significantly raise project costs. An extended ordinary least squares (OLS) model is specified that aims to better capture the influence of project-specific variable costs and geographically correlated fixed costs. The model is tested with data from a 2014 State of California-sponsored affordable housing cost study. The OLS models’ estimates indicate that prevailing wages are associated with between 5 to 7% higher project costs. The cost effect associated with a developer’s tax exempt status is half as large as estimated in prior studies and is not consistently a statistically significant driver of costs. The model revisions help to identify other more important sources of cost variation, including large business cycle effects, fair market rents, average county construction wages, local government impact fees, and above-average architecture and engineering costs.
The Right to Remain in the City: How One Community Has Used Legal Rights and Rights Talk to Stay Put in Bangkok
In this exploratory piece, I present a case study of the complex machinations of one community in Bangkok in their 13-year struggle to stay on their land. I ask how legal rights, rights talk, and political maneuvering figure into their strategies, as well as how their involvement with a larger social movement has shaped their efforts. The non-traditional form of the piece allows me to walk step-by-step through the community and the processes at play while considering multiple framings that may help us better understand the community’s situation.