Blog A Growing Intensity for Density

2019 Highlights from YIMBY Action & Yes In My Back Yard

Dec. 9, 2019


The YIMBY movement made dramatic strides forward in 2019! Wins like triplexes across California and zoning reform in San Francisco will lead to thousands of new homes across the state. With tenant-protecting demolition controls in this year’s biggest pro-housing bill, California will preserve thousands of rental homes while encouraging the production of thousands more. This is the political groundwork for a broad pro-housing coalition, bringing together the Three P’s: Production, Preservation and Protection.

Board Member Ernest Brown celebrates at the 2019 YIMBY Party Party

These wins were only possible because of the growing grassroots YIMBY base. This year, YIMBY Action fostered activists on the Peninsula, San Luis Obispo, and Southern California, and grew to over 2,700 members. YIMBY Action members hosted fascinating educational events and wrote moving op-eds. They pounded the pavement for candidates and fought for new Navigation Centers. Yes In My Back Yard launched, with projects like YIMBY Law to hold cities accountable and train a new generation of activists. The YIMBY legal team put more than 80 cities on notice, while the YIMBY political team hosted powerful public comment workshops. And YIMBYism went federal, with YIMBY Action joining national a pro-housing coalition supporting bold federal legislation, including the Yes In My Back Yard Act!

At every level of government and in all three branches, YIMBYs are making change. Enjoy this trip down memory lane to celebrate what this coalition of pro-housing activists accomplished in 2019!

Laura Foote, YIMBY Action
Sonja Trauss, Yes In My Back Yard


Pro-housing slate wins elections to the State Democratic Party

YIMBYs send a slate of ADEM delegates to the California Democratic Party, where they join with other pro-housing delegates to push the Democratic party to support better housing policy.

YIMBYs testify to support the CASA Compact

CASA Compact Passes!

Dozens of YIMBYs turn out to the Association of Bay Area Governments to help pass the CASA Compact, a pro-housing and pro-tenant resolution that names the “three Ps” and lays the blueprint for housing in the 2019 legislative session.

Intro to YIMBY

Starting in January, YIMBY Action on-boards more than 230 new activists at monthly YIMBY 101s. Housing advocates from New York City to Santa Cruz learn about the Core Four, the racist history of zoning, and so much more.

A few slides from Intro to YIMBY. Email if you’d like go get trained to give your own Intro to YIMBY.


“I would like to live in a mouse-free, affordable apartment.”

Laura Foote talks middle income housing at the Commonwealth Club.

Growing coalition of pro-housing advocates fighting for housing in Cupertino!

Peninsula for Everyone launches

This new YIMBY Action Affiliate grows to more than 700 activists by year-end!

“Build Housing Not Walls”

YIMBYs speak out against Cupertino mayor’s hateful rhetoric and fight to transform the dead Vallco mall into badly needed housing.


YIMBY San Luis Obispo County launches

“A new group of soon-to-be-vocal residents is forming in San Luis Obispo County, and these concerned citizens are unique — they’re self-proclaimed yay-sayers. Their mission? To increase the availability of housing at every level of affordability,” says the New Times SLO.

Yes to Navigation Centers in my backyard!

SF YIMBY mobilizes more than 70 supporters to speak up for the proposed Embarcadero Navigation Center — and wins!

After multiple hearings and tons of press, YIMBYs won an important victory for our unhoused neighbors. Read YIMBY Action’s statement of support.

Adorbs. Follow San Francisco YIMBY at


Mayor Breed reintroduces YIMBY Action’s charter amendment

San Francisco’s pro-housing Mayor pushes to streamline permitting for affordable and teacher housing.

SF YIMBY with San Francisco Mayor London Breed

Urban Environmentalists launches

Their mission: address the climate crises by advocating for walkable, inclusive communities designed around people rather than cars.

Endorsement toolkit gives YIMBYs new political power

YIMBY Action rolls out a robust endorsement procedure that ensures YIMBY groups connect to local candidates and are taken seriously as a political bloc. With a new questionnaire based on the Core Four, YIMBY Action will make endorsements in more places than ever before.

YIMBYs outside the State House

Sacramento Mobilization for Senate Bill 50: the More HOMES Act

The critical statewide upzoning bill comes under fire, so YIMBY Action members mobilize. The bill successfully passes out of committee.


Major push for Senate Bill 50

YIMBY Action members make over 3,000 calls in support of SB50. YIMBY Action gathers more than 30 pro-housing organizations for a broad coalition letter in support of the biggest housing bill in the history of California.

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A later YIMBY speaker dramatically ate the banana in protest

SF YIMBYs help defeat the BANANAs bill (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anyone)

Pro-housing voices successfully kill proposed legislation that would have shut down housing production in San Francisco.

Accessory Dwelling Units legalized in SF new construction — FINALLY!

Sonja Trauss sues San Francisco for a city ordinance that violated state law by banning accessory dwelling units (ADUs) in new construction. With the threat of a lawsuit and political pressure from YIMBY Action, the Board of Supervisors passes an ordinance to finally legalize building ADUs in new construction.

Pro-housing voices make waves at the CA Democratic Convention

YIMBYs pass 3 pro-housing resolutions at Convention, pass out thousands of pro-housing buttons and get out the word about the YIMBY movement.

YIMBY Action publishes coloring book by YIMBY artist Alfred Twu

Coloring a cozy urbanist paradise

YIMBY Action affiliate Northern Neighbors commissions YIMBY artist Alfred Twu to produce a coloring book that shares the YIMBY vision of welcoming, vibrant communities.


YIMBY the #3 spot in “25 Ways to Make San Francisco a Better Place”

25 small ways to make SF a better place

When it comes to making change at the local level, sometimes the tiniest actions can spark the biggest changes-and in…

YIMBY Action reaches 2,500 members!

Grows to 2,700 by years end.

Members-only legislative update with CA Assemblymember David Chiu

YIMBYs fight to open San Francisco’s first-ever center for homeless people living in vehicles

YIMBYs show up to support Supervisor Safai and Supervisor Brown’s efforts to open a Vehicular Triage Center, despite neighborhood opposition. The center opens in September!


YIMBY Action hosts Democratic Presidential Primary Debate watch parties

Popular watch parties earn some media buzz.

“The point is, we need more homes.”

Laura Foote faces off on Spectrum TV’s In Focus

Passions Run High for Housing

A supporter and a critic of two Senate bills meant to ease the housing crisis talk about what they think is needed to…

2,400 home project moves forward on Vallco Mall site

Using a bill YIMBY Action helped pass (SB35), developers push to bring housing to exclusionary Cupertino. After numerous hearings on the dead Vallco Mall, YIMBY Action members took a farewell tour in 90s attire.

Epic nostalgia tour.

“Software was eating the world, now landlords are eating everything.”

Viral post by YIMBY Action board member Steven Buss calls on tech to step up and support YIMBYs.

South Bay YIMBYs fight for more housing near San Jose Diridon Station and publish op-ed

Rico: A vision for the Diridon Station Area - San José Spotlight

South Bay YIMBY's vision for the development of the Diridon Station Area is of a vibrant, diverse, affordable and…

First Peninsula endorsement — and tons of canvassing

Peninsula for Everyone mobilizes to support Mike Dunham’s pro-housing campaign for Burlingame City Council.

Peninsula for Everyone with Burlingame City Council candidate Mike Dunham

SF YIMBYs start organizing for fourplexes everywhere

“We the undersigned believe we should change San Francisco zoning such that everywhere a single family home is legal in SF, new fourplexes should be allowed, without long delays and discretionary approvals (i.e. “by right”).”


Series of Road to Resegregation events

An important new book explores how sprawl drives racial inequality, and YIMBY Action and affiliates host several events with author Alex Schafran.

YIMBYs pound the pavement for pro-housing candidates

Pro-housing volunteers kicked up their activism, canvassing and phone-banking for YIMBY-endorsed candidates.

SF YIMBY with San Francisco Supervisor Vallie Brown and CA Assemblymember David Chiu

“We’re not the ones who invented suing our way through the housing crisis.”

Sonja Trauss faces off with Livable California’s Susan Kirsch on CBS News.

YIMBY members practice giving their best public comment for the camera!

YIMBY Action hosts public comment workshops for YIMBYs across the country

YIMBYs on two coasts practice and perfect their pro-housing personal stories.

Federal YIMBY legislation introduced

YIMBY Action joins Up For Growth to support HR4351 The Yes In My Back Yard Act and HR4307 The Build More Housing Near Transit Act. Laura Foote interviews Congressman Denny Heck (Denny Heck) and Congressman Scott Peters (Rep. Scott Peters) on Infill.

Listen to interviews, including San Diego Congressman Scott Peters

Yes In My Back Yard (YIMBY Law) is born!

Yes In My Back Yard forms as a new nonprofit to serve and grow the YIMBY movement. Along with education and thought leadership activities, Yes In My Back Yard houses YIMBY Law to hold cities accountable to housing law and educate and protect tenants.


CA Assemblymembers Chiu and Ting celebrate with YIMBY Action!

YIMBY-endorsed triplexes bill passes!

New ADU bills effectively allow three units on every parcel in California.

YIMBY-endorsed Housing Crisis Act of 2019 passes!

Senator Nancy Skinner successfully passes SB330, banning downzoning in California, while protecting tenants with demolition controls

YIMBY-endorsed anti-rent gouging bill passes!

Assemblymember David Chiu successfully passes AB 1482, protecting renters with a rent cap and just cause eviction protections.

Watch YIMBY Party Party speeches on YouTube

The YIMBY Party Party is an epic success!

Amazing speeches from Matthew Yglesias of Vox, Mayor London Breed, Senator Nancy Skinner, Senator Scott Wiener, and Assemblymember Buffy Wicks, reflect on incredible work of activists, the progress the pro-housing movement has made, and the work yet to come.

Check out all the YIMBY Party Party photos here!

From Matthew Yglesias’s YIMBY Party Remarks:

“…we’re on the agenda now in a huge way; in a way I frankly never could have imagined years ago when I first started covering this issue. The credit for that goes to a lot of people, but more than anyone else in the country I think it’s the hard-working activists right here in the Bay Area who’ve put this issue on the map. You were the ones who showed the world there’s a constituency for housing reform, there’s a vocabulary that can make it real for people, and there are even elected officials who can champion the cause and win elections and win policy fights.”

YIMBY Law helps approve ~1,000 new homes every month

YIMBY Law puts cities out of compliance with the Housing Accountability Act (HAA) on notice. Letters informing city councils and planning departments of their HAA obligations speed approvals of about 1,000 homes per month.

Urban Environmentalists affiliate hosts panel discussion “How Is Housing Policy Climate Policy?”

First major event of Urban Environmentalists. Check out the recording.

“California is burning,” says YIMBY Action Lead John Lisovsky in searing op-ed in the SF Chronicle

“Climate refugees will not come only from third-world countries; they were made last year in Paradise and will be made right here again — by us and our decisions about where to build housing,” says middle school english teacher John Lisovsky.

California's intense fire seasons expose poor planning decisions

The smoke that approaches for a third straight year should wake us all from the California Dream of urban homesteads…

Color of Law / El Color De La Ley in San Mateo

Exploring the segregationist roots of housing policy with author Richard Rothstein.

Peninsula for Everyone co-hosts event in San Mateo

YIMBYs Save Falafels!

YIMBY Neoliberal mobilizes to protect Flying Falafel and protest arbitrary discretionary review in San Francisco.

YIMBYs with Flying Falafel’s Assaf Pashut (center)


Abundant Housing LA wins major victory for SoCal

A wonky-but-critical victory in Southern California for the YIMBY coalition. Delivering record numbers of letters and a powerful op-ed on the issue in the LA Times (followed by the Time’s Editorial Board agreeing), this successful campaign resulted in a housing-intensive implementation of state housing goals. Over 1.3 million homes coming to SoCal, concentrated in coastal, job-rich cities!

Abundant Housing LA wins a long-lasting victory in Southern California!

Affordable housing initiative passes in San Francisco

With almost 3/4 of the vote, San Francisco legalizes affordable housing everywhere. This is a policy YIMBYs have been pushing for over 2 years, and it finally passes with a broad coalition of supporters (San Francisco’s Prop E). Trailing legislation will be needed, but this affordable housing overlay is a major step forward in the housing discourse.

YIMBY Law & YIMBY Action team up to block a downzoning in Chico

YIMBY Law Journal - YIMBY Law

SB 330 (Skinner) contains a new, tenant protecting demolition control program that applies to high rent, low vacancy…

$600M San Francisco bond for Affordable Housing passes

Prop A passes with YIMBY support, funding thousands of new homes.

YIMBYs rally for Prop A

744 Homes Approved in Exclusionary Laurel Heights

YIMBY Action Affiliate Northern Neighbors leads the fight for approval of 3333 California in San Francisco.

Housing vs. trees: SF backs 744 homes at UCSF Laurel Heights campus

Champions of housing beat out urban tree advocates as the San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a…

YIMBY Law Executive Director Sonja Trauss is appointed to the Bay Area Association of Governments (ABAG) by Mayor London Breed

First ever presidential debate question on housing

Every major presidential candidate has a pro-housing platform!

800 homes approved in South San Francisco

With support from Peninsula for Everyone, major project passes near South San Francisco BART station.

Resource published: “How much is your landlord allowed to raise your rent?”

YIMBY Law publishes first-of-its-kind resource to help renters in California understand new rent cap protections.

Googlers show up for YIMBY

Googlers commit $55,000 to Yes In My Back Yard as part of Google Giving Week. Find Yes In My Back Yard as a part of Social Good Fund on your corporate matching program today.

Density on the West Side?

Judah “sandcrawler” project gets approved in San Francisco’s Sunset District, representing a win for the HOME SF density bonus program, which YIMBY Action helped pass.

YIMBYs in San Luis Obispo celebrate

YIMBY Action affiliates mobilize for urgency ordinances to prevent evictions

From San Luis Obispo to San Bruno, YIMBYs mobilize to immediately implement new state tenants protections in cities across the state. Check out the Tweet thread from the Peninsula mobilization.


YIMBY Families launches

As the housing crisis makes it harder and harder to raise and support a family, families and young people are getting active!

“In most neighborhoods, most of my block would be illegal”

Sonja Trauss takes a walking tour of her childhood neighborhood in Philadelphia to showcase how much housing cities outlaw.

DCCC campaigns kick off

More than 15 YIMBY Action members are running for their local Democratic Party. San Francisco YIMBY and Peninsula for Everyone members launch campaigns for the Democratic County Central Committee, building the bench for the Bay Area’s future leadership.

Support pro-housing candidates running for their local democratic party!

YIMBY Action expands to Southern California

In partnership with People for Housing Orange County, YIMBY Action will launch grassroots clubs in Southern California in 2020!

But there is still so much work to do.

Your support will keep this movement going!

Please consider YIMBY Action and Yes In My Back Yard in your end of year giving. YIMBYs need your help to change housing policy.

Thank you for being part of this. For everything YIMBYs accomplished this year, and all the amazing battles to come, congratulations on an epic 2019!

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