N&O: Raleigh YIMBY Voices Grow Louder as Growth Debates Heat Up

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You’ve probably heard the word NIMBY, short for “not in my backyard,” to describe people who oppose new development near their homes. But another movement is growing – YIMBY, or “yes, in my backyard.”

YIMBY has been gaining traction across the country, and Raleigh no exception. Two local groups are pushing for the approval of backyard cottages, short-term rental services such as Airbnb and new affordable housing projects.

Raleigh YIMBY, which hosted open meetings when it began in 2013, now mostly serves as an email listserv to spark conversations about progressive urban design.

Raleigh attorney Brent Woodcox started a second group, YIMBY Raleigh, in October in the midst of a divisive City Council election season. His group directly addresses development issues in Wake County, often through tweets and blog posts.

Most recently, Woodcox criticized Wake commissioners for agreeing to spend $23 million for land in Fuquay-Varina to build a park. Some had hoped the site would be used for affordable housing.

Ted Van Dyk, a member of Raleigh YIMBY and owner of New City Design Group, said the YIMBY philosophy is defined by optimism and excitement about Raleigh’s future as a major city. That’s important, he said, because reluctant voices – including those considered NIMBYs – are often the loudest.

“The people who think everything is fine don’t get motivated to come out and protest in the streets,” Van Dyk said. “YIMBYs have created a little body that says, ‘You know what, we might not be banging on the doors or wearing matching T-shirts, but there are people in Raleigh who do want thoughtful development and are OK with us becoming more of a city.”

Raleigh leaders have been debating for years about whether to allow property owners to rent their homes on a short-term basis. There has also been a lengthy debate about backyard cottages, which some say can increase the stock of affordable housing. ...
— Henry Gargan - N&O
Brent Woodcox