In the Star Wars stories, the Jedi were guardians of peace and justice. The Sith were obsessed with greed and gaining power by any means, including blatant deception. The battles played out between bounty hunters and freedom fighters, including the reluctant smuggler Han Solo, who himself had a bounty on his back.
Housing activists known as YIMBYs (aka “yes, in my backyard”) are turning the challenge to provide housing that is affordable into dangerous “housing wars.” According to cayimby.org, the group is searching for “bounty hunters” for a program sugar-coated by being called “research.”
They are recruited to investigate local city council members and county supervisors who have opposed housing at the state and local levels. They offer a $2,000 bounty.
One of the eight bounty hunter programs is called, “Calculate a housing graveyard.” The research question is, “How much housing has your local NIMBY elected official killed?”
San Francisco Supervisor Dean Preston is their research example. Preston is a civil rights attorney elected to the board in 2019. He started the advocacy organization Tenants Together. He’s a decent guy, a thoughtful Jedi for economic and racial equity.
But the aggrandized YIMBYs, taking license to intimidate from Attorney General Rob Bonta’s officially named “Strike Force,” are strutting with funding from the building industry, real estate investors and Silicon Valley.
As director of the Catalysts for Local Control organization, I think a YIMBY program calling for “bounty hunters” is dangerous. The program should be disbanded and we should all reject YIMBY rhetoric.
Initiatives to build affordable housing cry out for safety grown from local officials and citizens advocating for community control. Urge your elected officials to join as one of 10 or more co-plaintiffs in litigation against deceptive housing quotas.
Send inquiries to attorney Pam Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Susan Kirsch, Mill Valley