The Doddering Deifiers of Density-Part 2

John Mirisch
Councilmember and former three term mayor of Beverly Hills

FYI, I am agnostic when it comes to urban density.  I look upon it as a lifestyle choice, one of many; my opposition to Wiener and his acolytes’ bills is rooted in their utter lack of tolerance: the attempts to force density upon communities; the attempts to create one-size-fits-all urban schemes that treat us all like widgets (or serfs); and the zealotry in their war on single-family homes, which themselves represent a personal lifestyle choice and in many cases the expression of the American dream.

In calling for the end of single-family homes, the young Yimby authors of the article cited above claim that “by 2025, over three quarters of households [down from “85%” in an earlier version of the article] will not have kids and the most common household will be individuals living alone.”  If that’s true, maybe it’s time to stop talking about “multifamily housing.”  Maybe in this time of New Urban Solipsism we should be talking about “multi-solo housing.”

And just how will this multi-solo housing help us avoid overcrowding?

The irony is, of course, the same twittering titans of twaddle for whom Scott Wiener is a more seminal political figure than Abraham Lincoln, support Wiener policies which would force us all into “small to mid-size apartments,” while eliminating single-family homes and turning us all into the vassals of an oligarchic group of Wall St. landlords.

The irony is, of course, these same Yimbys who are now vocally decrying “overcrowding” are also supporting pending bills in the California legislature like AB 3173, which would allow for the construction of microunits with no more than 80 square feet (7.4 square meters) of space.

That’s right: the same density fetishists who are attempting to make “overcrowding” into the Covid bogeyman, support laws which would put individuals and families into apartments the size of medium-sized area rugs.

Small wonder that they, like their POTUS Twitter compatriot, play fast and loose with the truth and half-truths.

In an op-ed with the high-minded sounding headline, “On housing, as with coronavirus and climate change, California must follow the evidence,” Yimby spokesperson Matthew Lewis, attempting to further the false “overcrowding vs. density” duality, after accusing those pointing out the potential downsides of density of cherry-picking facts, engages in a fair bit of cherry-picking himself (e.g. Asian cities with higher levels of urban density than Manhattan had fared better than NYC in fending off the virus; never mind the vast differences in the respective societies in question, including in levels of authoritarianism).  Lamenting supposedly false information being spread about density and pontificating its supposed virtues at the same time, he even has the chutzpah to end his article with a fake Abraham Lincoln quotation about… “the truth.”  Falsely quoting Honest Abe to deny the potential role of density in a pandemic: now there’s a pretty good symbol for Yimby tactics, if nothing else.

In fact, it seems as if all the reflexive Yimby op-eds, memes and rhetoric purporting to show that the spread of Covid-19 has nothing — but nothing whatsoever — to do with density, can be collectively and neatly distilled into the urban planning version of: “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people.”  

“Density doesn’t infect people; people infect people.”

Of course, for all their righteous sophistry, the Yimbys are ignoring one critical factor in their attempts to dismiss urban density as a factor in a pandemic: human reactions.

Not surprising, since Yimbyism at its fundament treats human beings like widgets, stats or marks; but ultimately many real, live people aren’t going to be bamboozled by the Yimbys’ attempts to conflate overcrowding and density or by their angry denials of the fact that so many people living in the same area (i.e. high levels of urban density) may have contributed to the spread of Covid-19.

Instead of looking at the virus and (telecommuting) as an opportunity to press the reset button and to look towards better ways to achieve those goals they purportedly espouse in their championing of Yimbyism, they create their memes, spew their sarcasm and act as if the pandemic is a mere blip on their triumphant march towards their urban supremacist manifest destiny.

The silver lining of the pandemic may be that we now have an opportunity to rethink and move away from the fairytales of eternal economic growth that have informed our thinking; we now have an opportunity do things better, to make them better and to provide a better, more equitable, more sustainable and more inclusive future for our region, state and country.

In their dismissal of the notion that there is a pre-Covid and there will be a post-Covid world, the Yimbys themselves are guilty of Covid-denialism.  Even in a pre-Covid world they could not accept that single-family homes were a preference of a large group of Americans of all stripes, colors, persuasions and dance-skill levels.  It is simply unfathomable for them to even begin to conceive that post-Covid more Americans might make this lifestyle and housing choice if given the option.

Yimbys seem to be great at raging on Twitter, cutesy memes and other forms of social media outbursts, but they are underwhelming when it comes to actually trying to defend their extremist positions in actual, person-to-person discussions and debates.  And, yes, to all you Yimbys out there, this is an open invitation to a series of debates/discussions on density, urban planning, urbanism — and more; let’s see if you’re as good at going boca-a-boca with those outside your echo chamber as you are at snark.

C’mon: I dare you (yes, this means you, @ElPaavo)…

It will never happen.  While Yimbys are great at hiding behind their Twitter handles and invoking invective, they don’t seem to be willing to engage in dialogue with “suppressive persons” who push back against the Yimby orthodoxy.  They aren’t willing to talk directly with those that question their ideology and agenda.  They don’t like to be exposed.

Because for the Yimbys this is not about the environment; it’s not about inclusivity; it’s not about sustainability; it’s not about social equity.  It’s about coopting the environment, inclusivity, sustainability and social equity in support of a cult-like agenda, which ultimately benefits Wall St. and Big Tech.  Yes, like much of what happens in America these days, it’s all ‘bout the money.

Then again, what else would you expect from the yammering yahoos of Yimbyism?

John Mirisch has served on the Beverly Hills City Council since 2009.  He has served as mayor three times, but is currently enjoying his role as a garden-variety councilmember.

Comment on this article


Please note, statements and opinions expressed on the Fox&Hounds Blog are solely those of their respective authors and may not represent the views of Fox&Hounds Daily or its employees thereof. Fox&Hounds Daily is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the site's bloggers.