I applaud the Princetonians of the New Urbanism movement for working to build dense, walkable, climate-resilient communities (“Built to Last,” January issue). What David Walter ’11’s article did not discuss is the biggest barrier to New Urbanism: “Not In My Back Yard” politics. The planning process in most cities overweights the voices of the small but vocal and well-organized minority of local homeowners who oppose density. The result is terrible sprawl, not to mention skyrocketing housing prices, rising homelessness, and widespread evictions and displacement. In my state of California, NIMBY capture of local planning processes has resulted in sprawl so bad that building is pushed to the wildland urban interface, triggering dangerous wildfires.
The solution is “Yes In My Back Yard” (YIMBY) activism, which works to reform the politics of development so that dense housing is easier and cheaper to build. If Princetonians reading Mr. Walter’s article are moved by the vision of New Urbanism, I urge them to support the YIMBY movement to make this vision a reality.