YIMBY Law looks to expand its pro-housing message outside California

Since 2019, the San Francisco-based nonprofit YIMBY Law has focused on pro-housing laws and activism in California, but that’s about to change.

While YIMBY, which stands for Yes In My Backyard, has been most active in California, it has grown increasingly active in other parts of the country, including Texas.

This year, the organization is making its national expansion official, looking to add two people to its 18-person team. It’s currently recruiting for a research attorney and a legal associate. The hires do not need to be based in California, according to the group.

“We’re looking forward to holding more cities accountable and making sure we achieve abundant, affordable housing everywhere in the U.S.,” Sonja Trauss, executive director of YIMBY Law, said in a statement on Feb. 8.

The group’s advocacy has taken on a range of housing issues in California, from suing the City of Redondo Beach over Leo Pustilnikov’s builder’s remedy case last year to filing a lawsuit against the City of Los Angeles for delaying an affordable housing project in Winnetka. This is a test case for whether Executive Directive 1 from Mayor Karen Bass can be used by developers to streamline construction of affordable housing.

The organization has played a prominent role in helping builders navigate the state’s regulatory process, sometimes being the first to bring up archaic law or overlooked provisions, like builder’s remedy and other routes developers can pursue, especially when it comes to affordable housing applications.

Alexandra Hack, a principal at Cedar Street Partners, recalled learning about builder’s remedy from Yimby’s Policy Director Rafa Sonnenfeld.

Yimby Law has established 20 existing chapters outside of California.

“Yimby already has been supporting housing projects across the country, so now we want to add the capability to be able to write legal letters in other parts of the country,” Trauss told TRD.

She said “increased demand from our chapters for legal analysis and support for housing projects outside of California” prompted the expansion, in addition to the rise of pro-housing state laws in other parts of the country.

“There are several states where state legislatures have passed new programs that allow increased density in existing residential zones or housing in commercial zones,” Trauss added. “And we want to be able to help make sure these laws get implemented.” 

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