Gay Shame Podcast – Episode 7: Queers of Color Against YIMBY


Warning to all Marys everywhere: YIMBYs are a front for the real estate industry, and they are coming to evict you.


James Baldwin’s ‘Take this Hammer’ film, on racist gentrification in San Francisco, 1974 – 

Unhoused Folks Deserve All These Vacant Condos and More –

‘YIMBYs: The Alt-Right Darlings of the Real Estate Industry,’ Truthout –

‘The Racial Contours of YIMBY/NIMBY Bay Area Gentrification,’ Berkeley Planning Journal –

‘YIMBYs Exposed: The Techies Hawking Free Market “Solutions” to the Nation’s Housing Crisis,’ In These Times –‘Extrastatecraft: The Power of Infrastructure Space’ – 

Video depicting YIMBYs being YIMBYs by the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project – Facebook video: (archived at

‘Take This Hammer,’ LA Tenants Union on their action against the Hammer Museum holding a pro-YIMBY event –

@shooktwinks deconstructs the YIMBY myth that building more luxury condos will solve San Francisco’s affordable housing crisis –

This jester –

More on conservatorship -> Gay Shame Podcast Episode 3: ‘FreeBritney, Free Them All’ –

Recorded May 3, 2021.

Audio snippet 0:10
[KPIX reporter Susie Steimle]
“SB 50 was put on ice at the end of last year’s legislative session. So it’s up for a vote again this January, and Senator Scott Wiener tried to announce some amendments to the bill today, but you could hardly hear him over the crowd. [Short recording of Wiener’s announcement]. If you’re looking for a microcosm of the housing affordability crisis, look no further than Oakland City Hall today.”


Mary Crisis 0:41
I’m Mary crisis.

Mary Interrupted 0:43
I’ll be…Mary Interrupted.

Mary Lack of Creativity 0:46
I’m Mary Lack of Creativity.

Mary Napkins 0:49
And I am Mary Napkins. Hello, this is the Gay Shame podcast, this is Gay Shame podcast number seven. Gay Shame is a radical trans queer direct action group based in San Francisco that has been operating since 2001.

Mary Crisis 1:03
Gay shame is a virus in the system. We are committed to a trans queer extravaganza that brings direct action to spectacular levels of confrontation. We work collectively outside boring and deceptive nonprofit models to fight white supremacy, capitalism, ableism, cops, settler colonialism and all forms of domination. Liberals think that we are frivolous decorations and mainstream gays want us gone against them and with each other we instigate irritate and agitate to build cultures of devastating resistance.

Mary Napkins 1:35
Now, we are going to talk about YIMBY, and YIMBYs. What is the YIMBY who, is the YIMBY. YIMBY has been Gay Shame’s nemeses of late in many different ways, and we’re going to break down and explain to you why it is; it’s not just ours. It’s everyone’s and everyone around the world, not just San Francisco because a lot of the YIMBY activity is starting to, well, they’ve pretty much done nearly almost everything that they can do in this city and get away with, not that they’ve stopped. But they are definitely spreading all across the globe and to other cities. YIMBY is coming to your town. So how do you deal with YIMBYs? How do you identify them? How do you fight them? How do you stop them? How will we all survive together? And how can we steal the land back for each other so that we don’t have to… you know…whatever. We will discuss that tonight. Yes.

Mary Lack of Creativity 2:26
And many of you may be asking, just give me a hint. What does YIMBY stand for? It stands for “Yes in My Backyard,” as in “Yes, build luxury condos in my backyard.” They’re basically a PR front for condo developers, libertarians who love Ronald Reagan and the free market and supply and demand, trickle-down economics, which does not work. And their name comes from their pretend, totally fake opposition to NIMBYs, or the “Not in My Backyard”-ers. And NIMBYs are the stereotype of the cranky neighbors who block housing in their neighborhood, block any new development. But actually, as we will let you know throughout the episode, YIMBYs and NIMBYs are fighting on the same side— they’re both just interested in money, getting those property values up for the real estate industry and getting those rents up for the landlords.

Mary Napkins 3:37
So yes, when we’re talking tonight, there’s going to be a great deal. It’s going to be very information-dense tonight. So by all means, rewind the podcast, go over it several times. There will be a quiz later. But it’s incredibly specific information, just because, unfortunately, we have amassed way more information than any human being should ever have to be burdened with in this fight. And we’re always incredibly eager to want to offload it on the nearest person or trauma bond or whatever. Consensually or not consensually. But you have tuned in to this tonight. So assumingly um, I’m assuming that you want to hear us talk about YIMBYs.

Mary Lack of Creativity 4:22

And we will include lots of, you know, reading material, explainers for some of these terms, like, like “below market rate,” which is a very, a whole, we could do several episodes on that. And then New York City how they have the “poor door”. Yeah, yeah, actually cut that.

Mary Napkins 4:45
And I can whatever, it’s fine. So yeah.

Audio snippet of Derrick Berry 4:58
“They were…”

Willam Belli
“No one was killed at Stonewall.”

“Nobody was killed?”

“Nobody was killed at Stonewall.”

Mary Lack of Creativity 5:02
One of the most insidious parts of YIMBYism is how they will use the language of the social justice or housing justice [movement], this veil of progressivism, in order to achieve what they want, which is to set up the world for more high-end real estate.

Mary Crisis 5:27
So YIMBYs claim that they are pro-housing, however, they are attempting to dictate the conversation on land and who gets to do what with it.

Audio snippet 5:37
[land use attorney Christine Linnenbach]
“…the quality of our life will simply be destroyed if 827 is ….”

Mary Crisis 5:53
It’s a narrative war that is being penned by the real estate industry, and their models are simple. It allows property developers and landlords to control where people can go and serves as, like, a legacy of colonization.

Audio snippet 6:06
[Mark Ranneberger, Communications Director at Republicans and Independents for Biden, based in the Washington DC-Baltimore Area according to Linkedin]
“…living here. I want our healthcare workers keep living here our firefighters or police officers, and they’re having to leave the city because the city has done nothing, while we are in an urgent housing crisis.”

[KPIX anchor Elizabeth Cook]
“KPIX’s Wilson Walker explains this is only the beginning.”

[KPIX Field Correspondent Willy Wonka]
“And just as Salesforce has been filling up over the last year or so has the rest of South of Market with a wave of high and mid rise buildings from just off the Embarcadero all the way out to Van Ness. And not only are they filling in that new skyline, they are redrawing its sense of style.”

[Bystander Sheila, interviewed by Walker on the corner of Folsom and Main in the East Cut. Has probably moved.]
“It is, but it’s beautiful, I mean that, very seldom do you see architecture like this, so I’m happy to have it…”

Mary Crisis 6:46
And it’s not really a coincidence that the YIMBY model is adopted from Nordic housing models. Like democracies that are hailed for their housing in their health care models. They’re, you know, countries that continue to be very racist, especially towards immigrants. And, you know, YIMBYs pride themselves on their knowledge around the housing crisis, the housing shortage, and the history of redlining, racial segregation, poverty and houselessness.

Audio snippet 7:16
[uncredited Politics and Prose Bookstore Event Staff] “…delighted to have with us this evening, Richard Rothstein, who’s written The Color of Law, a forgotten history of how our government segregated America. We’re very fortunate also to have with us this evening, Ta-Nehisi [mispronounced], who’s here to be in conversation with Richard…”

Mary Napkins 7:33
When YIMBYs talk about the history of redlining, they’re using it as an alibi to continue to move white people into black neighborhoods. They could, they believe that, you know, the civil rights, a legacy of the fight against redlining is to deregulate zoning…

Audio Snippet 7:55
[various commentators (Sonja Trauss, Scott Wiener, uncredited Politics and Prose event staffer, Josh Stephens)] “…because of zoning…and conditional zoning…racial zoning…to up zone an area or liberalize a Community Plan…”

Mary Napkins 8:02
Deregulate zoning laws, and that’s all they—like zoning—zoning laws for further luxury condo development in black and brown neighborhoods,

Audio snippet of Brian Hanlon, grand wizard of California YIMBY 8:13
“California YIMBY is committed to advancing fair housing, but we need to acknowledge that we, like many YIMBYs, are new to this space. I believe it’s past time that we YIMBYs, whatever background, make common cause with fair housing advocates and fight to overturn exclusionary housing policies in the legislature and at the ballot box.”

Audio snippet of Brian Hanlon, grand wizard of California YIMBY
“…Introduce Richard Rothstein.”

Audio snippet of Richard Rothstein
“Thank you, Brian. Thank you, Konstantin. Pleasure to be here with you. YIMBY is one of my favorite organizations.”

Audio snippet of Konstantin Hatcher, Member Board Of Directors at Strategic Concepts in Organizing and Policy Education according to Linkedin
“What other solutions you they could begin to reverse this history of segregation, with like specific solutions, that you could reverse this history of segregation and build some wealth?”

Audio snippet of Richard Rothstein
“Well, I think zoning reform that increases density is an essential first step. And let me just say I’m very much in favor of increasing density—as you know, I was in favor of the two bills that the YIMBY promoted.”

Mary Crisis 8:59
However, the whole concept of mass and mixed use development serves as a disadvantage to the people who are directly impacted by these developments. You know, the people that are impacted by these are, you know, truly the experts. And they inevitably lead to gentrification, increased policing, and street sweeps that serve as like a dead end for houseless people. And we’ll talk about that.

Audio snippet 9:25
[KPIX news anchor Brian Hackney] “A new approach to easing in the Bay Area housing crunch KPIX5’s Da Lin on the push to make it easier for developers to build and why some protesters are pushing back.”

[KPIX reporter Da Lin] “You’ve heard of NIMBY, not in my backyard. Now a new movement is catching on: YIMBY, ‘Yes, in my backyard’. YIMBYs are holding a three day conference in Oakland on how to build more housing.

[recording of Scott Wiener] ‘…years and decades of underbuilding…’

[KPIX reporter Da Lin]
A keynote speaker today with state senator Scott Wiener.”

Mary Napkins 9:55
All this stuff you’re hearing on the news, it’s a lie. What is what is YIMBY really, I mean, it’s been going on for a while in San Francisco. It’s sort of like built up to it, these really intense developer campaigns to sort of, um, win over public opinion, like these sort of strategies of trying to make people who are coming out to protest and can clearly see that they’re going to be gentrified, and pushed and displaced, to, to sort of just allow it to happen. And so what, so what is YIMBY and why is it a problem? Because the YIMBY has basically destroyed the consensus among the left, or organizers, or whatever you want to call it, that building new development in a underserved neighborhood is bad. Like, in general, I feel activists have always kind of just sort of intrinsically understood that.

Mary Lack of Creativity 10:49
Right, like, since at least the 1960s, when James Baldwin was talking to people in San Francisco for Take This Hammer.

Audio snippet of James Baldwin from Take This Hammer 11:09
“Now, with all of these beautiful buildings, now, they’re going to be ringed in by hostile people just like New York, hostile and frightened people. They walk down the street and wonder why the first neighbor boy, they see looks and looks at them as though he wants to kill them. And if he gets a chance, tries; but this time in my life I would have felt just like just like blowing it up. That building, it has absolutely no foundation. And it really does not have any foundation, it’s going to come down one way or another. Either we will correct what’s wrong, or it will be corrected for us.”

Audio snippet of Mary Helen Rogers — Fillmore Organizer — Secretary, National Tenants Organization from Redevelopment, A Marxist Analysis
“It was really funny, we had one black supervisor in the city—his name is Terry Francois—who was really terribly upset with us, because we were taken out of the city government, you know, to try and block the practice of the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency.

Mary Napkins 12:01
What YIMBY has done since it’s come along is completely undermine that sort of collective shared understanding about how gentrification works, how gentrification is extinction, of colonization, how it’s real estate, and like, it’s stolen land and all this stuff. It’s sort of flipped the script completely in these terrifying ways where people will think that there’s a housing shortage, which we’ll talk more and explain why that is one of the central YIMBY lies. They will believe that, you know, supply side, all these people who are living in tents, you know, like it’s the 1920s, they need to, you know, we need to have this kind of housing program—so that YIMBY sort of plays to like a lot of these sentiments.

But it’s nothing like those programs that build public housing. It isn’t public housing, which we’re going to explain more in detail. Of course, the Mission because it’s such prime real estate has been the site of many different really intense fights over the years. There was the Beast on Bryant fight that took place where CELLspace once was, and there was the whole Monster in the Mission fight, which, people were able to actually stop from happening, which was sort of a victory. And there’s also the Vida fight, where if people don’t know, Vida is a luxury condo building on Mission.

Audio snippet 13:19
[one time Mission Local journalist Daniel Hirsch, moved to Omaha to write plays]
“…Owner of 22nd admission where construction cranes tower above the street. They’re in the process of building a brand-new high-rise condo building called Vida.”

Mary Napkins 13:29
People have been trying to organize against it for 15 years. Vida is on Mission and 21st, sort of like really prime real estate, and you had Gavin Newsom raving about how it was this Miracle Mile and how much he wanted to you know, sort of, you know, see the birth of the new Mission happening there. There was like, you know, incredibly strong opposition against all these different developers. Some of the projects went through, like Beast of Bryant was finally built. And so, well, it got built due to payouts to various community groups to not protest. People did protest at the Kelly Moore paint store down on Mission and Cesar Chavez.

Audio snippet 14:09
[Mission housing activist Nick Pagoulatos]
“…And what this developer is proposing to build behind us is more condominiums. 60 more condominiums for our neighborhood.”

Mary Napkins 14:19
People protested all kinds of things. Like for example, the Beast on Bryant was actually a fight that was still going on when, when when Vida was being built. Why is it there? How did it happen? And like, why aren’t people protesting it? Well, it’s because the developers figured out that they needed to give buyouts to basically a lot of the anti-displacement nonprofits in the Mission and all the opposition that was trying to stop it.

Audio snippet 14:42

[Lauren Smiley, legendary San Francisco  racist, classist and transphobic journalist]
“It’s currently in construction. It’s about five stories high right now.”

[Daniel Hirsch]
“…and that the developer was really successful at working with community groups.”

[Lauren Smiley]
“…In order to get support for this development. The developer gave substantial donations to a lot of community groups.”

[Daniel Hirsch]
“Gave his Maybe a strong word here, right? I mean, isn’t there a little bit of strategic, cajoling?”

[Lauren Smiley]
“Everyone got what they wanted?”

[Daniel Hirsch]
“Well, we’ll see about that.”

[KGO-TV ABC 7 Anchor Dan Ashley]
“…Look at how dangerous this fire was for crews. You can see firefighters scaling ladders and fire escapes. Just as burning debris falls from the top of the building…”

[KGO-TV ABC 7 Anchor Ama Daetz]
“…and the fire is displacing dozens of people leaving them with no place to stay tonight”

[KGO-TV ABC 7 Reporter Cornell Barnard]
“…40 people who have been displaced..”

[San Francisco District 9 Supervisor David Campos]
“…not paranoid people, but reasonable people believe that arson is responsible.”

Mary Napkins 15:33
Also people remember Hawk [Ling Lou] and Katie Lou were the landlords of an apartment building. There was a horrible catastrophic fire.

Audio snippet 15:43
[media activist Dina Boyer]
“..We just heard 40 people displaced. And it’s next to the Vida”

[San Francisco District 9 Supervisor David Campos]
“…2015, we’ve had six fires in the Mission.”

Mary Napkins 15:50
What happened is that real estate interests changed tactics and created YIMBY. So what YIMBY is, it’s like a luxury condo activist, except they aren’t activists. They’re astroturfers. And astroturfing is of course like, when you when you pay to create the semblance of a grassroots movement to show up at public comment, and other sort of commissions that are trying to make decisions, like environmental review boards, around whether or not things can be built in certain places, whether or not a massive high rise is going to cast a shadow on a neighborhood, just all sorts of different things. And then you have these people who show up out of the blue, often recently, as we will explain, recently moved into your town to be an advocate of building this thing.

Audio snippet 16:43
[Mark Ranneberger, Communications Director at Republicans and Independents for Biden, based in the Washington DC-Baltimore Area according to Linkedin]
“Hi, Supervisors. My name is Mark Ranneberger, and I’m a resident of Telegraph Hill in District Three, and I’m a renter. I’m not a native San Franciscan, and apparently in that city that makes me a second class citizen… Because the city has done nothing. While we are in an urgent housing crisis, people can barely afford to live here. Local Control has failed. It’s time to give the state of chance oppose this resolution support SB 827”

Mary Lack of Creativity 17:09
YIMBYs are upheld by technocrats, and their ideology, I mean, the biggest funders in California, of YIMBYs are guys from Microsoft, Yelp, Google.

Audio snippet of completely uncredited CNBC announcer 17:23
“…Google CEO explains the company’s $1 billion investment for residential housing. Apple is giving $2.5 billion to the cause. And in Seattle, Microsoft is chipping in $500 million. And neighbors Amazon have opened a homeless shelter in their downtown campus.”

Mary Lack of Creativity 17:41
Their whole philosophy is based on a very, you know, there’s so many different people who have disproved the Reaganomics trickle down theory that is the behind. It’s like a very libertarian theory that, eventually, if you build new housing, it will be affordable to the rest of us.

Audio snippet 18:06
“My name is Evan Kirkpatrick. I’m the founder and CEO of Wendell Charles Financial and a contributor to Forbes. And the truth about trickle-down economics is: it doesn’t work.”

Mary Lack of Creativity 18:15
It’s just not the case we’ve seen especially as the real estate industry becomes more and more controlled by gigantic conglomerates. They can afford to sit, have a place that empty for years and years and years so they don’t set a precedent, [so] that the area becomes cheaper. Yeah, it is Mary Crisis mentioned, the media has taken this up as well; YIMBYs call themselves the pro-housing arm of the tenants movements. ‘Course most of them own houses and condos. The media will use them as the only voice on the quote unquote “pro-tenant pro-affordable housing side” of an argument. Their trickle-down kind of supply and demand, Chicago School economics, that is extremely libertarian in nature, relies on this idea that it’s okay for us to continue to allow real estate to speculate on land and allow the hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people in the Bay Area, who are unhoused or precariously housed—about to be unhoused because the eviction moratoriums are ending post-COVID—so it’s a pretty insidious, you know, fake grassroots astroturfing narrative.

Mary Interrupted 20:02
I feel like it makes sense to bring in Zillow as well just like to emphasize that cognitive disconnect where like, these like, real estate capitalists are showing people that there’s so many homes that are available, are empty. And they just can’t put two and two together to put people in homes.

Mary Lack of Creativity 20:17
Yeah. And there are lots of stats to back up—their narrative is totally bunk. Even from people who are ostensibly on their side. Like, this website, Zillow, which is a real estate website, estimated that there are 100,000 empty homes, pre-COVID-19 pandemic, and now, you know, two years into the pandemic, it’s probably double that. And that could house the houseless in San Francisco easily, several times over that. And YIMBYs are always talking about this concept of a, quote unquote, “healthy vacancy rate”.

Mary Napkins 21:06
Oh, Mary, Mary, Mary, Mary. No, no, look, there’s no such thing as a “healthy vacancy rate”, like Gay Shame wants everyone to have a house. And just this idea that in order for the economy to function like the “well-oiled machine” that we know capitalism never is—unless it’s slaughtering indigenous people and enslaving people—doesn’t work like that, doesn’t care about that, doesn’t need that at all. We could just give all the housing we want to everyone, whoever needs it like.

Tying any of this into like the whole like, technocratic approach, the professionalization in the way that it like, mixes in with like, the type of people who are moving into these neighborhoods, and the idea that, you know, these poor people don’t know how to, you know, take care of [the housing crisis] for themselves. So we have like this idea backed by science or something like that or backed by market economics, that ties in all of these libertarian ideas, as well as like the character of people moving into these neighborhoods, with the policies…

Audio snippet of Arnold Townsend — Chairman of WAPAC from Redevelopment, A Marxist Analysis 22:05
“…community could have been restored…Buildings torn down…When we get into the question of the present system of capitalism, it was not in the capitalist interest to do it. They have the expertise, they have the technology, they got the money, but they don’t have the interest.”

Mary Crisis 22:27
I think like a good thing to add. I don’t I can’t think of the term, Mary Napkins, but like, I know what you’re talking about. I think that like in relation to this, like, it’s really important to make the distinction that YIMBYs and the people that like are for these developments have no proximity to houselessness, have probably never experienced it. A lot of people, I when I first moved out here and like met people at my job, they weren’t fucking paying their rents, their parents were. That’s like that’s like the case for I mean, like, not for like everybody that lives in these places, but like a lot of them, you know.

Mary Lack of Creativity 23:02
And if any of this is confusing, you’re not alone. Because the whole point of a lot of their arguments is to make them sound like mental labyrinths. They want you to feel confused. They want you to, as someone who is not looking at policy every day, is not headed to city hall or paying attention to what’s happening block by block in your city, they are trying to confuse you. And if you mention that you are going to be shut down as somebody who just doesn’t know what they’re talking about. And that tends to be people of color and people who are lower income.

Mary Napkins 23:47
It’s all it’s all the it’s all the neoliberal things. It’s basically like all the neoliberal shit like I can’t, um.

Mary Lack of Creativity 23:53
See, yeah, I mean, Sonia in the libertarian newspaper for the Libertarian Party of SF wrote that thing that she was like, “I don’t want subsidized supervised affordable housing. I want to consume housing, the way I consume all other products.”

Mary Napkins 24:10
I think it’s really good to sort of just understand that YIMBYism is just pure neoliberal—it’s something that sounds appealing, it’s actually a hustle. It’s always trying to hustle you in some way. And that you YIMBYs are always trying to make something that sounds—”Oh, this doesn’t sound that bad.” But it’s always like, you know, it’s always about trying to elevate the sort of speculative value of real estate. That’s always what they want the end of the day. So like, for example, something that they’ll always try to do in order to confuse anti-displacement activists is sort of promise that there’ll be affordable units that they’ll make off-site from a certain place and then it will make it sound like a good idea. And then people be like, Well, that sounds like it’s worthwhile and blah, blah, blah, and that it’s going to, you know, offset the losses that they’ll get and it never does, like the YIMBYs will always get a lot more out of any kind of thing that it is, if they ever build it in the first place, because that’s also true because it’s always often an empty promise. Like there’s no guarantee that they build these things. And they’ll always be like, “oh, we’re trying to give you these things” but they never materialize.

Audio snippet 25:14
[Dan Hirsch]
“‘Gave’ is maybe a strong word here, right? I mean, isn’t there a little bit of strategic, cajoling to get this project through a notoriously, vocal, activist community?”

[Lauren Smiley]
“So I’ve been told time and time again from people all over the city that the Mission is the most vociferous group of dissent you will ever run against in San Francisco, that they’re incredibly well-organized. They have tons of nonprofits that band together. I think one attorney put it to me—’You’re going to run into a buzzsaw.'”

[Dan Hirsch]
“So Lauren, in the case of the Vida developer, what did the wielding of the buzzsaw get for the community?”

[Lauren Smiley]
“He agreed to a land dedication over on Chatwell street of a Auto Body Shop that’s going to get demolished and they’re going to build all affordable housing there, the community will get about 40 units of affordable housing instead of the bout 13 they would have got if it had been built on-site. That was another thing the community really fought for in the negotiations over this building.”

[Dan Hirsch]
“So sort of a win for the community. But the developer still gets to build a bunch of market-rate condos.”

[Lauren Smiley]
“Everyone got what they wanted.”

Mary Napkins 26:24
Or the like, like we were talking about with a yuppie fishbowl.

Audio snippet of Tiktokker and UCSB Poli Sci student Jacob Gotta 26:27
“…Yuppie fish tank theory, or the idea that all the rich people the yuppies will move into these towers instead of gentrifying other areas…”

Audio snippet of Phillip Ansel Ritz, Tiktokker and environmental scientist
“…gentrification, what it’s like in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. So here’s a big empty lot. It’s about to be developed. So you think in this new lot in Williamsburg, the new building would be 30 to 40 storeys tall, maybe taller. Right? No, it’s about six stories tall. And that’s what’s unfortunate. in Williamsburg, you have a lot of wealthy employees

Audio snippet of Tiktokker and UCSB Poli Sci student Jacob Gotta
“…and it’s based on some pretty compelling evidence. In this paper, researchers studied 11 different major cities in America. And they found that building big luxury towers like that relieves pressure on the rest of the housing market, specifically in LA, building a bunch …”

Audio snippet of James Baldwin from Take This Hammer
“Land has been reclaimed for money, and that people are putting up the houses expect to make a profit. But it seems to me, I’m attacking what’s called the “profit motive”, there are some things more important than profits. I live in New York City, has been turned into a desert, really. For the same reason. And it’s happening in San Francisco now. This is, this society made the assumption, it certainly acts on the assumption that to make money is more important than to have citizens. You’re paying too high price for this. And this is only what it’s doing to negro children, which is God knows bad enough, it’s what it does to white children.”

Audio snippet of Tiktokker and UCSB Poli Sci student Jacob Gotta
“…You know, what I call big old buildings like that? Anti-gentrification towers”

Audio snippet of James Baldwin from Take This Hammer
“And adolescents know it.”

Mary Napkins 27:51
Well, it’s kind of like the idea that if we build this thing in here, then people aren’t going to move into single family homes, and people aren’t going to displace people. But it’s always like a lightning rod that sort of draws in more development. That’s like always what happens.

Mary Lack of Creativity 28:06
Yeah, Mary interrupted, I thought you had a really good, good way of putting just kind of the veil that they have created, the YIMBYs have created.

Mary Interrupted 28:16
Yeah, thanks, Mary. Um, I think what you were saying before really gets to the heart of it, where, you know, they’re, they’re quite young, the people who make up YIMBYs, kind of as a reaction to NIMBYs basically. Where you know, I think um, I can’t remember which Mary said this earlier. But um, NIMBYs are raising the property values by preventing development, and then YIMBYs are raising property values by encouraging development, but they’re able to kind of use a lot of this language of like civil rights and intersectionality and everything and like pull from this liberal university education and appeal to younger generations alongside all of this market knowledge, and to kind of remarket themselves and build this sort of PR presence, where they seem like the most reasonable way forward in in this housing debate.

Snippet of Josh Stephens, contributing editor of California Planning and Development Report, speaking at USC
“…And the reason I’m here was an op ed, I wrote in response to an article written in the website TruthOut, and it was written by a journalist and a student whose names I’m gonna mispronounce, but they were writing about the YIMBY movement. And there was sort of a throwaway moment in their article, but what they described was a breakfast between Sonia Trauss.”

Snippet of PBS NewsHour special correspondent Duarte Geraldino
“This group calls itself YIMBY. Yes, in my backyard.”

Snippet of Laura Foote Clark Moss
“Welcome everybody to the Rally for Housing.”

Snippet of PBS NewsHour special correspondent Duarte Geraldino
Sonia Trauss, hobbled by a broken foot, is hopping mad about the lack of new construction—what she says is inflating housing prices throughout the Bay Area.”

Snippet of Sonja Trauss
“It’s caused by zoning, but it’s also caused by super local control. That’s really what it is.

Snippet of Geraldino
“And you’re trying to disrupt that.”

Snippet of Trauss

Snippet of Josh Stephens, contributing editor of California Planning and Development Report, speaking at USC 30:01
“…who is the head of SF BARF, the San Francisco Bay Area Renters Federation. And Peter Thiel. And Peter Thiel, as you probably know, is a big Silicon Valley investor and founder, and not incidentally, as been somewhat of an adviser to Donald Trump. Sonia had the oatmeal, and Peter Thiel had the quiche. And from this, we have the genesis of a conspiracy. The implication, though, is that just because they sat down together and shared their quiche and oatmeal, that somehow it is evidence of this capitalist […]. And that’s what I find really problematic about all this, regardless of how you feel about capitalism, colonialism, and gentrification and so forth, that the idea that communication and dialogue is a bad thing.”

Mary Napkins 30:53
Yeah, and this colonization really isn’t a metaphor. I mean, Shell Mound is literally what’s what this was, is happening, like the plan, Scott Wiener’s plan to help developers build on sacred ancestral, like, you know, territory, or like really important religious sites that are held by local like Ohlone folks in the Bay Area, is literally like them just trying to figure out how to like extend the horizon of Manifest Destiny after they’ve already discovered everything.

Mary Crisis 31:23
And I also think it’s important to know why YIMBYism and why YIMBYs themselves are so violent. And here Gay Shame like they are no different than a fascist.

Snippet of Sonja Trauss, during her failed District 6 Supervisory run, 31:35
“…Now, we have new state laws, the conservatorship laws that can reinstitute that pipeline, and help the city compel people to accept treatment. London Breed has endorsed me, and she is a leader on these conservatorship laws. So it’s really important to make sure that there’s someone on the Board of Supervisors [who] is going to cooperate with London Breed and support her, please show the city that you that you need your neighborhoods to not be plagued by drug use and drug dealing, and that you care about people enough to help them get the treatment that they need.”

Mary Crisis 32:11
People think that there is a long line, like it’s a like, it’s a distance between the people living in these units, and like in support of them, whether or not they actually live there (but if they you know, love seeing fucking condos), all the way down to the people who get the police called on them. And that’s primarily like black and brown people, people experiencing homelessness, trans people, and people experiencing like substance use and detox, in conjunction with all of these things, in some cases. You know, the people that live in these developments are very quick to call the cops. They call 311, they use Nextdoor, and they are responsible and complicit in the sweeps that happen. And these sweeps, people, what people fail to understand is that when these sweeps happen, people are not really met up with with resources right away. If anything, they get their, their livelihood taken away from them, their belongings—in a lot of cases that I’ve read, their medication.

This could—I mean, we’re going to talk about this a little bit more, but all of this could really be solved if all of these empty units were just made readily accessible, and people didn’t have to jump through all of these, these hoops, these bureaucratic hoops, just to obtain housing. And the the problem with, you know, all of these techies, like, calling the cops all the time, you know, they’re they’re calling the cops on people who were, you know, born and raised in this neighborhood who have seen all of these changes and everything happened to them and their life. It just ends up being—it’s not even, it’s not even dystopian, because it’s real. But it’s literally just like a tech fantasy land to sea of white people, just rich white people.

Mary Napkins 34:04
And the irony of it is, is that I mean, San Francisco’s had drug culture forever. So like, what are they, you know, and how it’s like, obviously classed and racialized. And this mess up way, it’s like, who is able to, you know, come to San Francisco and like, live their best life and who’s going to be pathologized for and criminalized for it and incarcerated for it in order to preserve their property values.

Mary Lack of Creativity 34:27
And this is, yeah. One of the examples when YIMBYs come out using the language of fascism, which is pretty close to their ideology, more generally. They would rather see an empty new condo than they would a low-income person housed, and that’s why I mean, Gay Shame is very much for stealing, quote unquote “all the empty houses all of the empty condos.”

Mary Napkins 35:03
Say real quick, if a lot of this, if, so we’re talking about speculation a lot. And something that we’ve noticed a lot of people have also observed is that it has kind of a feel to it. It has kind of a pro-life, kind of feel to it, like for the people who haven’t arrived, the people who will come, it’s never for people who are here now on the street. It’s never for people who, you know, are applying in a lottery, as we were mentioning earlier, as Mary Crisis was saying earlier, like you’re in a lottery and you’re trying to desperately get these like, few available units. It’s never for—they don’t actually care about housing people, they’re only interested in building stuff. And you know, that could be for—often is for international investment opportunities, so that people can have the third and fourth it’s like techies can have the third and fourth home.

Mary Lack of Creativity 35:54
So this below-market-rate model is supplanting all the public housing that has been a like saving grace for people over the years. People are working hard, including the YIMBYs, politicians, to get rid of public housing, and replace it with this allegedly below-market-rate, affordable housing. And affordable, again, I’m using that in the most kind of satirical way because you have to have amazing credit to even apply for these limited number of units. It’s 13% [affordable housing] here in San Francisco for every new condo development, the formula to decide what those units are priced at, is based on, well, it can go up to 150% of what people make in the area. I know that’s a lot of math right there. But basically, I think it was it was made confusing for a reason. You have a bunch of people competing for 13% of a new buildings, apartments and some kind of lotto think about like having to go to the bank, having to, you have to get certified as, a through the city, or these weird nonprofits, jump through all these hoops in order to get on the list.

Mary Crisis 37:19
One thing that I hear a lot from from YIMBYs or YIMBY aligned folks, or people who are kind of like on the fence about YIMBYism as a whole is that they are trying to combat houselessness. And the only way to do that is to fix this quote unquote “housing shortage” and build more affordable housing. Most of these units in these condos are luxury condos, luxury apartment buildings are about like market rate. I don’t know any person that is not a techie that can afford an apartment at market rate. And even in these developments, the property developers, if they do end up doing like a certain percentage of units at quote unquote, like “below market rate”, what ends up happening is that you have thousands of applicants who are, like, low-income or experiencing house lessness. And sometimes in systems, people coming from like shelter-in-place hotels, or like project homekey, or safe sleeping villages, you know they have things like coordinated entry or a hotline they’re supposed to call. That kind of like gives them options that are not really options, right? Like they’re, it’s like set up like a lottery, where thousands of people are applying for these 10 to 14 units below market rate in these luxury condos.

A lot of people think that all of the rich people are just gonna like move into these units and our neighborhoods are good to go. But no one really talks about how these same people are wealth hoarding. They’re taking not only—if they do end up living in these luxury condos, who’s to say that they’re not going to take your house or take your neighbor’s house? Happens all the time.

Mary Lack of Creativity 39:00
Yeah, they are not going to build any more than they have to of these [affordable] units, even though they make so much money off of these units. And it’s, it’s cover for the city to say, look, we’re building affordable units when they’re affordable only to people who don’t live in the neighborhood. Typically 13% is going to be the highest that you get in a new building. Oftentimes, [developers] can buy their way out of it by just paying a fee that’s supposed to pay for the units to be built somewhere else in town. They don’t plan for that. They just pay it to the city, city puts it in a pot, they let it sit. So some of the new below market rate units. I mean, they’re paying more to construct and buy the land, the supplies pay the construction workers than they would have if they built it like 10 years ago or what have you. Like for example Vida was built around 2014.

Mary Napkins
So we have given you a lot of the history, a lot of the specific cases, and you’re probably wondering, what is a YIMBY? What is a YIMBY? So YIMBYs, the idea that you should really come away from this podcast understanding is that they are pro-density, pro-development shills, they’re kind of like puppets of an industry. They’re kind of like advocates, like not really like an advocate per se, but more like a hired henchmen a hired henchmen, who goes in certain kinds of policy areas specifically to transform public opinion, and get people on the side of building as many luxury units as possible, because you have to understand like it’s never, it’s never about actually putting people in housing, it’s actually about maximizing profit by trying to create a building, a structure that has this many investment opportunities for whoever as possible.

It’s never, like, they’re never feasible, it never make sense, they’re never in places that make sense. They just want to get it built. And people have to understand that this is a violent extractive process. It’s environmentally hazardous, it destroys communities and completely erases like the cultural profile of a given metropolitan area. But it also devastates the environment, like constant construction, we can’t just constantly keep clear cutting forests, we can’t constantly be, you know, extracting metals to build steel girders, and all these different things, all these different resources to build housing that no one actually wants. Housing that often after it’s constructed will get torn down within like five years. Ideally, ideally, in a YIMBY world, there’s always some construction happening. It’s things are being torn down to build new things constantly.

One really interesting example of this is not a housing example is you know, people live in San Francisco are familiar that there is a mall for some reason, well, there’s in San Francisco has a San Francisco center, and then on the block next to it, there’s just a vacant mall that’s sat vacant for six years at this point? How long has it been vacant? And it’s just constructed for no reason. Now, why is that allowed to happen? Well, because everyone got everyone cashed out. The developer built it, it’s sitting there, you know, it just doesn’t, it doesn’t serve any actual function. But at the same time, it’s interesting, that particular location was a squat. And people were trying to transform, people were trying to like wage a war against—land struggle, by trying to create like a free and open space where people could you know, make, you know, build community and is like the exact opposite of this vacant mall. This is sitting there for yuppies, or sitting there for techies, and uh whatever.

Mary Lack of Creativity
Yeah, and they use the terminology, the lingo, the affect of the housing movement, which makes it even more insidious. The headquarters here in San Francisco was at the same time holding Neoliberal YIMBY, a subgroup of the YIMBY action group meetings as well as the socialist YIMBY group, another subgroup—neither of them lasted very long. And that’s why it made sense over the summer that the YIMBYs within a week held events with the Cato Institute, which is a Koch brothers “let’s privatize the Postal Service, social security and get rid of any any kind of welfare system today”. They had an event with the Cato Institute, but also had a racial justice teach-in because the protests were happening in the wake of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and Tony, McDade.

Mary Interrupted
Yeah. So um, I just wanted to jump in. There’s there’s like an environmentalist sort of tack that a lot of YIMBYs like to use when they’re talking about the impact of this development, or at least like how much more responsible they’re being with all of these, these new buildings, that make the development look like it’s like a positive addition to the neighborhood or that it’s like replacing buildings that, you know, like had asbestos or something like that. But I mean, on the one hand construction’s an extremely environmentally destructive industry, you know, concrete and everything like that. I think specifically also in like earthquake prone areas, like San Francisco, there’s only so so far you can build with wood before it becomes dangerous in terms of earthquake ratings, and I think that’s built into the codes of San Francisco’s construction.

But I think another one that I’ve kind of been interested in is that, you know, there’s like LEED and ISO certifications for all of these buildings. And just in terms of talking about making infrastructural space look more attractive to people who prioritize, or see these as like, pluses because they feel better moving into these buildings, they’re more rated environmental in some way. Or, you know, like, they follow these like, international specifications, that they’re kind of repackaging these buildings as something that is a better kind of building almost, that they’re adding to the neighborhood while basically masking all the other, you know, terrible things they’re doing to people who are already living here.

Like one thing that’s, that’s interesting that I learned a couple months ago, reading, it’s a book called [Extrastatecraft], I believe, I can’t remember who it’s by (Keller Easterling). But like, ISO ratings and all of these certifications are managed by private entities. So they’re not public certifications. And so, you know, there’s like a, there’s a group of business leaders who get together to determine what these certifications are. And it’s quite common in “third world” countries, let’s say, for instance, for these certifications to be used to, to gatekeep basically who gets what sort of international funding, where—it’s very similar situation on the ground here, where nonprofits or buildings or anything, they get state funding or they get all of this support based on whether or not they’re adhering to these basically privately determined certifications. But on like, on the whole, it makes them look better to people who have more progressive tendencies, when they’re looking at whether or not this building is environmentally friendly.

Mary Lack of Creativity
They try to guarantee that only people that look like them and are from a certain backgrounds can exist in these worlds. And it’s, it’s fascist.

Mary Napkins
It’s fascist. Yes.

Audio snippet
[DoggTown Dro]
“Is one of you guys Fnnch?”

[fnnch / tech entrepreneur Edward Marks]

[DoggTown Dro]
“So tell me what you’re doing to offset your gentrification effects in San Francisco.”

“How about this shit rent-represents gentrification, [..] city that you ain’t from. Where you from partner?”

[fnnch / tech entrepreneur Edward Marks]
“I’m an immigrant here. I was born in Missouri. I immigrated here.”

[DoggTown Dro]
“And you gentrify my city. What do you do to offset your effects on gentrification in my city?”

[fnnch / tech entrepreneur Edward Marks]
“I’m trying to empower artists to do more art in the city, I really am.”

[DoggTown Dro]
“But, this is, this is empowering artists in San Francisco? Is this empowering artists from San Francisco?”

[fnnch / tech entrepreneur Edward Marks]

[DoggTown Dro]
“How…Tell me how.”

[fnnch / tech entrepreneur Edward Marks]
“Because people are going to be able to put more murals.”

[DoggTown Dro]
“You know, you know, what people are going to put here, people are gonna put graffiti over this shit because it represents gentrification.”

[fnnch / tech entrepreneur Edward Marks]
“Yeah but then later on, someone else is gonna come in and put another mural…And that’s part of the American Dream.”

[DoggTown Dro]
“Coming from Missouri to California is not immigration.”

[fnnch / tech entrepreneur Edward Marks]
“I’m an immigrant to San Francisco.”

[DoggTown Dro]
“No, you’re a gentrifier to San Francisco.”

[fnnch / tech entrepreneur Edward Marks]
“What’s the difference between a gentrifier and an immigrant then? Is everybody who’s new bad? Like, we’re gonna have no new people?”

[DoggTown Dro]
“You don’t you understand what gentrification means. And you don’t understand the displacement effects that it has.”

[fnnch / tech entrepreneur Edward Marks]
“Again, this sounds crazy, but it’s like I raised $100,000 to distribute directly to artists in San Francisco. We’re out of work…”

[DoggTown Dro]
“Then why are the artists in San Francisco that fucking hate you from San Francisco?”

[fnnch / tech entrepreneur Edward Marks]
“I think there are a variety reasons for that? I think one of them is jealousy. Honestly, like—”

[DoggTown Dro]
“Are you talking to the police right now?”

[fnnch / tech entrepreneur Edward Marks]
“I got this wall. And people this is a very cool wall and people are jealous.”

[DoggTown Dro]
“Yeah, yeah, we’re fucking jealous that fucking white people like you can come to our state and have a better life than the people that were born and raised here. Yeah, we’re jealous of the, we’re jealous man, fucking you can have this wall but the artisans from San Francisco can’t. Yeah, we’re jealous bro. Alright I don’t have all day for this.”

Mary Interrupted
YIMBYs try to use these kinds of rhetorical tools and be like, you know, you’re either with us or against us and they’ll say you know, [residents] don’t like this sort of “open borders” idea that they want. [Where it’s] like, people who are living here don’t want gentrifiers to move in. Or it’s like, we can tell who gentrifiers are. It’s not a question of being xenophobic, or in any sort of analogous way, but recognizing that people are coming in and destroying neighborhoods, and that there are clear consequences to [these newcomers].

Mary Napkins
So when you hear Laura, Laura Foot Moss, asking, “Where am I going to live?” She literally means that shit. She wants to know where her personal white ass is going to be living. Like she doesn’t care about the people who are already living here, the kinds of communities that exist here, she doesn’t care about anyone who is of a lower income bracket than her or doesn’t have her higher education and all that stuff and her wealthy CIA parents. Like, she just, yeah, she doesn’t. It doesn’t. That’s all that she wants.

Mary Lack of Creativity
And yeah, they, there’s certain words that they love to use that make it seem like they are really building the world that we all want to live in. And so they’ll have names like East Bay for Everyone. They’ll have, you know, “growth” in the name and ostensibly you know, mean like growth for like, jobs and like, the more parks, but it’s really just growth for them. It’s growth for their real estate and tech overlords. And it all comes down to the money.

Mary Napkins
So now that we’ve told you a little bit of all the information that we’ve amassed about YIMBYs, you’re probably wondering “Oh, no, do I know any YIMBYs? Have I been hanging in, have I been breaking bread and enjoying a boba with a YIMBY? Well, these are five signs that your friend might be turning or transforming if they aren’t already, a YIMBY.

Mary Crisis
Does your friend fetishize glass high rises when you’re walking through the city together? Being like “Ooh, that’s a nice one.”

Mary Napkins
Did Scott Wiener officiate their wedding?

Mary Crisis
Has your friend ever asked you out on a date to come to public comment in favor of a new condo?

Mary Lack of Creativity
Does your friend have a Finch Honeybear in the window?

Mary Crisis
Does your friend ever come to you saying we need more neighbors?

Mary Interrupted
Does your friend only go to the Marina Safeway?

Mary Lack of Creativity
Your friend a landlord?

Does your friend identify as an immigrant but they’re white, from the upper crust, has a landlord for a father, and…does your white friend who moved all the way up from Stanford to San Francisco consider themselves an immigrant?

Do they love a disposable scooter hogging up the sidewalk?

Mary Interrupted
Well, I hope this helped clarify what YIMBYs are, where they come from, you know how to identify them. And just wanted to underline that we are, we’re behind 100% low and low income housing has them all now. And fuck Nancy and Ronald Reagan.

Mary Napkins
So yes, that was Gay Shame telling you about YIMBYs. We’ve done the best we could to help you navigate this incredibly tricky rhetorical terrain. Remember that YIMBYs will try to trip you up, will try to confuse you, make you, have you have you going in circles at public comment and tripping and trying to—you know—out-debate-bro you. Just, just remember that they are not your friend, that they only care about the only thing that they care about is the bottom line. And they’re always going to be doing the will of the real estate industry.

So once again, this is Gay Shame signing off. How to fight the YIMBYs I have been Mary Napkins.

Mary Lack of Creativity
I’ve been Mary not creative and better on paper.

Mary Crisis
I’m Mary Crisis.

Mary Interrupted
And this is Mary interrupted, thanks for your time.

Mary Lack of Creativity
We’ll be watching. We’ll see you on Nextdoor.