Not-in-my-backyard (NIMBY) has been an overwhelming criterion for voters since the 80s. People choose to vote based on neighborhood impact. They often voted against high-density housing (attracting a low-income population), industrial factories (harmful pollution), and public transportation (bringing urban crime to the suburbs). In the last three decades, the NIMBY culture has overtaken the Bay Area in formal ways with a platform and leaders standing by. Now, NIMBYism is affecting the next generation of workers. The political forces behind NIMBYism have diminished affordable housing.
Voters influenced by NIMBYism contribute to inequality. The Bay Area risks losing its economic growth by subverting the housing needs of junior engineers, first responders, public school teachers, retail employees, and skilled trade workers. Austin has become an affordable destination to many from the Bay Area, but the same narrative is dispelling its charm with Texans who aren’t employed in healthcare or tech.
In the 80s and 90s, you could have been a Reagan Republican or a Clinton Democrat favoring NIMBYism for the sake of your children. The housing crisis today is a result of NIMBYism. Major metros like the Bay Area have become so strongly NIMBY that younger populations such as workers under 30 (who power the tech economy) simply cannot afford to buy a single-family home.
The Tesla engineer earning 200k in Fremont has eerily become the autoworker working for GM in 80s era Detroit. Those auto workers moved further and further away due to affordability concerns during Detroit’s heyday. Likewise, Tesla engineers know that moving to Austin ensures them a lovely home in a welcoming neighborhood.
While the Austin metro area is not experiencing Bay Area-scale NIMBYism, the Silicon Valley narrative highlighted in this article (link) deserves close examination since Austin is making all the same mistakes as affordability concerns impact first responders, teachers, and those not employed in tech. Crime is spiraling out of control. Parents are afraid to send their kids to public schools. Most new high-density housing projects target high-income earners, not cops and school teachers. Silicon Valley has already lost its middle class. Austin is on the same path.