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—through projects built in whoever's backyard necessary.
The pro-development locals are coalescing under the mantra, "Yes, In My Backyard (YIMBY)," a nationwide movement of housing development supporters that's rising in areas where a plethora of issues have led to unaffordable rents and home costs, and increases in homelessness.
Krista Jeffries, a Grover Beach resident, recently started the SLO County YIMBY group in an effort to combat the intense opposition to a homeless housing project proposed at Hillside Church in Grover Beach. With that project held up in court, the YIMBYs plan to tackle several other housing issues in South County, and the group hosted its first public meeting on Aug. 20.
"We need tenant protections and awareness," Jeffries said to the roughly seven attendees at the Aug. 20 meeting, which was held in a Starbucks in Arroyo Grande.
The best way to protect tenants from unsafe living conditions, irresponsible landlords, and increasing rent, she said, is to build more housing of all kinds. That's especially effective if a lot of units are built close together and in areas where schools, grocery stores, and other services are within walking or biking distance.
That's why Jeffries said she supports Pismo's proposal to build 20 to 50 residential units on two 1-acre properties each on 4th Street. The YIMBYs hope to see some similar high-density housing development projects in Grover Beach, too, but Jeffries said several changes need to be made to that city's housing element before that's a possibility. Barriers, like Grover Beach's height limit on residential buildings, make it difficult for developers to build affordable apartments in town.
Constant public outrage makes that challenging, too, which is namely what the SLO County YIMBYs hope to take on. When residents hold strong "not in my backyard" sentiments over development and affordable housing projects, Jeffries said it encourages developers to stick to single-family homes—projects that don't incite controversy but are unaffordable to many of the county's residents.
The group is planning to meet again on Aug. 28 to prepare a proposal for Grover Beach City Council, which is meeting to discuss housing in-depth on Sept. 3. Δ