Young families may want to organize YIMBY groups

So the NIMBYs won again. A pair of projects that would have resulted in 100 homes aimed at local working families and 61 affordable agricultural lots in West Maui were defeated. They were defeated by a vocal group of neighboring property owners who did not want to have those 161 local families as neighbors. They were defeated by a County Council majority which have repeatedly chose to support NIMBY — Not In My Backyard — complaints over the need to address our housing shortage by building homes.

NIMBYism is a national phenomenon. (See New York Times, July 3, 2016, “How Anti-Growth Sentiment, Reflected in Zoning Laws, Thwarts Equality.”) The Obama administration estimated that NIMBYism had become a $1.5 trillion (with a T) drag on the U.S. economy. Locally, it has negatively affected our ability to build homes, has increased our cost of housing and resulted in more of our kids leaving Maui.

When workforce housing is defeated, some see it as the developers’ loss. But the real impact will be on the 161 local families who will not be allowed to live in Launiupoko. Ultimately, those families’ future homes were rejected by the council majority.

The NIMBYs will always have the advantage in these fights. It’s their neighborhood. But increasingly, YIMBY — Yes, in My Backyard — groups have formed along the West Coast in response to this phenomenon. That may be the message to the young Maui families who want to stay here in a home they own: organize.

Dave DeLeon



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