Via Grist’s Dave Roberts, I came across this piece from The Stranger on micro-housing in the city, which you might think sounds rather prosaic…until you remember the awesome and hideous power of NIMBYism (Not In My Back Yard, for the uninitiated).
The very quick and dirty version of the story is that Seattle is facing a demographic boom and a housing crunch, and that these micro-apartments offer a way for the young and the not-rich to live in the city in an affordable way. It sounds pretty good, right?
A significant number of locals disagree. They’re worried that these housing complexes will change the character of the neighborhood, that they’re a financial windfall for dishonest developers, and that, well, the wrong kind of people might move in. And what kind of people are the wrong kind of people?
“Anyone who can scrape up enough money to live month-to-month can live there,” [one neighborhood activist] said, worried that low-income interlopers would jeopardize his chances to sell his own house. “I don’t think most people want to live next to a boarding house with itinerant people living in it.”
Now keep in mind that this is in Seattle — not exactly a place you’d mistake for the Deep South or some other hotbed of conservatism. But just like Boston in the early 70s, when outrage over busing and school integration caused an extreme amount of social disruption and controversy, we see that a lot of otherwise progressive people become downright reactionary when they’re forced to actually live their principles. It is, in a word, gross.