University of Southern California USC

September 26th- Josh Stephens

Seminar Description: The politics of housing have entered a new era. For years, the enemy of housing was said to be the so-called NIMBY forces that blocked construction. In response, a coalition emerged under the heading of YIMBY (Yes, in my backyard) to advocate more construction of all types, typically market-rate units built by private-sector developers. Advocates for low-income residents, including many communities of color, have attacked the YIMBY position for not emphasizing subsidized low-income housing. A centerpiece of the disputes involve gentrification in working class neighborhoods besieged by new residents, who may be seeking refuge from the deepening housing shortage but thereby worse the local affordability problems.

How did these two groups that should, by all accounts, be pro-housing bedfellows become so estranged? Will shortages and affordability worsen because of the deadlock? What is the pathway out of the impasse? Can Los Angeles find pragmatic and sensible answers amid such dramatic politics? What are planners to do who are caught in the middle of the housing disputes?


Speaker Biography: Josh Stephens has followed the evolving conflict as closely as anyone. He is contributing editor of the California Planning and Development Report ( and has covered the statewide extensively. Mr. Stephens offers incisive analytical essays and news articles on the motivations and consequences surrounding many development disputes, including the new housing conflict that threatens to worsen an already dire situation.

Discussant: Professor Lisa Schweitzer

Organizers: Professor Dowell Myers and Angela Lucero


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