This holiday season, we asked some of St. Pete’s best and brightest citizens to share one catalyzing idea for making St. Pete a better place to live. We asked not for lists of problems, but for meaty, actionable and impactful solutions, no matter how big or how small.
Gina Driscoll, St. Petersburg City Council Member – District 6
From NIMBY to YIMBY
St. Petersburg is shining brighter than ever, with a renaissance marked by unprecedented growth. Businesses are flocking to our city, our population is growing, and we are welcoming more and more tourists every year. We are prouder than ever to call St. Petersburg home, yet we recognize that this growth is creating challenges with affordable housing, traffic and even the preservation of what makes St. Petersburg so special in the first place. We realize that we must change the way we look at issues such as development and transit in order to accommodate our growth.
These changes are often met with the response, “Not in my backyard!” This is understandable, because we live here for reasons that give us a great sense of pride – we love our block, our neighborhood, our city just the way it is. Realistically though, we know that St. Petersburg must move forward and evolve, and that change is inevitable. The NIMBY response usually doesn’t lead to healthy conversation, reasonable compromise, or positive outcomes for all. The solution might be to start at the other end of the spectrum instead. What if we decided to try a “Yes in my backyard” response first, and work from there? What if we took each new proposal and started by asking, “What would YIMBY look like?”
Taking a YIMBY approach to change doesn’t mean giving up with a sense of resignation. It’s actually more productive than the NIMBY response, and it can lead to better planning and policy. Instead of beginning with “No,” ask yourself what would get you to “Yes?” What would make you say “Yes in my backyard” to that zoning change, that bike lane, that mixed-income apartment building? Read the details of what is being proposed. Talk to your neighbors. What revisions would you make, and where are you willing to compromise? Communicate with City officials, the developer, your neighborhood association president. These are the conversations that can create positive outcomes. You might not get everything you ask for, and you might even still oppose a change. But the result is likely to be a better direction because of your input.
St. Petersburg will continue to grow and flourish, and it will move forward on a stronger and smarter path if we incorporate a YIMBY approach into our community conversations.