Giving Thanks for our Pro-Housing Elected Officials

YIMBY Action
3 min readNov 25, 2020

Across the United States this November, Americans rejected the idea of building walls of exclusion. Hard-fought, steady progress to advance the pro-housing movement was made. All in all, YIMBY Action and our energized membership helped elect 82 candidates who will push for more housing in their communities.

This year we endorsed more candidates than ever across California. This was only possible because YIMBY Action members on the ground researched candidates, conducted interviews, and analyzed questionnaires. In the coming years, we hope to endorse candidates in cities and towns across America, because everyone deserves a home.

Voters soundly rejected the candidates of exclusion.

From the small city of Cupertino, where voters ousted Councilmember “Build a wall” Scharf, to the federal triumph of pro-housing Biden, YIMBYs can be proud of the progress we’re making.

The California state legislature will see a few more pro-housing faces, and we hope this will firm up support for some of the most important bills. The Bay Area Housing Caucus remains strong, bolstered by the resounding victory of State Senator Scott Wiener (SD 11). This election was a test for our most fearless pro-housing legislators — and they triumphed!

This pattern is getting elected officials to stick their necks out further and further for housing. Assemblymember Rob Bonta (AD 18) led the charge for removing the apartment ban in Alameda. Meanwhile, new leaders like Assemblymember Alex Lee (AD 25) are bringing fresh energy to the pro-housing cause. The South Bay and Santa Cruz areas saw state legislators connecting the dots on how housing affects so many other aspects of our lives. Longtime environmentalist and State Senator John Laird (SD 33) spoke about the critical connection between infill housing and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. And State Senator Dave Cortese (SD 15) drove home the point that jobs growth without housing growth was driving up both homelessness and super-commuting, crushing the middle class.

YIMBYs know that we need more pro-housing legislators in Southern California if we’re going to see success for bold state-wide housing reform. Local chapters were key to this years success. In places with a thriving YIMBY movement, activists did incredible work (Read more about San Francisco here). In many places, YIMBYs were endorsing for the first time, pushing candidates to get right on the issue of housing. People for Housing Orange County saw the results: “In previous cycles, candidates weren’t widely talking about their stances on housing. This election was different.

So many candidates steadily increase their appetite for state-driven housing policy reform to eliminate exclusionary single family home only zoning. From progressive champion Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez (AD 80) in San Diego to the mild mannered Assemblymember Dave Min (AD 37) in Orange County, pro-housing candidates are finding their stride in SoCal. This is critical for the success of future bills.

Even if our most ambitious pro-housing legislation takes another couple years, the wins we’re having in local races are part of a coordinated effort to get the most out of our state housing goals. YIMBY Action endorsed 59 people who will sit on city councils overseeing local rezoning processes mandated by state legislation we helped strengthen. These elected officials will be overseeing contentious general plan updates, which reporters are already predicting to be a “maelstrom.”

But YIMBY can be prepared. California’s complex process of updating local housing plans is where YOU can make a difference. Our Housing Element Watchdogs are getting up to speed on the acronyms and preparing for a contentious year holding cities accountable for state housing goals. And we will be there to ensure California gets the most housing possible out of this complex process. Sign up to be a Housing Element Watchdog today.

Which brings us to our first YIMBY of The Week: Adam Buchbinder. Adam was calling in to the city council meeting in Alameda to ask them to take their state housing goals seriously — when all of a sudden a city councilmember lashed out. Adam kept his composure under pressure and we’re glad to name him YIMBY of the Week!