Did NIMBYism create out-of-control San Francisco housing market? Advocate has warning for Vancouver
Renters' advocate says San Francisco a 'lab example' of what happens when NIMBY voices are loudest
Vancouver's housing market isn't quite as pricey as San Francisco's, but a renters' advocate says it could be eventually.
Sonja Trauss, president of the San Francisco Bay Area Renters' Federation, places much of the blame for her city's housing woes on NIMBY attitudes that obstruct the construction of more density and has a warning for Vancouver: don't do as they did.
"It's very common to get a one-bedroom [rental apartment] for $3,000 or $3,400 per month," she told On The Coast host Stephen Quinn. "The average for a two-bedroom is more like $4,500.
Trauss says more supply is part of the solution, but when cities ask for public input on developments that could increase supply, they usually hear from neighbourhood groups the most. She says they can be the wrong people to hear from.
"The people most concerned with new housing are people who don't live in the neighbourhood yet," she said. "Someone who already lives in the neighbourhood already has housing. They don't benefit from new housing, particularly, being built in the neighbourhood. … or maybe they're opposed to it 'cause maybe they think it'll bring more traffic."
Trauss feels hearing only from neighbourhood groups cuts renters and people who might benefit from higher density, like employers, out of the equation.
She calls the San Francisco Bay area a "lab example" of what happens when neighbourhood groups get to have the loudest voice. She says decision makers need to question whether their consultation policies are making cities better, because for renters like her, they aren't.
"A lot of my peers — I'm 35 — are starting to have young children," she said. "You turn the walk-in closet into a baby room. … You just have to deal with less space and it's just really expensive. And it's a shame."
You can listen to the full interview here:
With files from CBC Radio One's On The Coast