Killing the American dream – Oregon (NIMBY) style

By Dave Hunnicutt
Oregon Property Owners Association,

We’re happy to announce the release of our latest video for our YouTube channel.  In “Why Millennials and Gen Z Can’t Buy a Home in Oregon,” OPOA General Counsel Samantha Bayer explains why Oregon’s land use law is based on NIMBYism, hurts the working poor and minority communities, and prevents thousands of Oregon families from building generational wealth and escaping the cycle of poverty.  If Oregon’s leaders really cared about hard-working young Oregonians, we’d immediately fix our broken land use laws.

Sam’s video is both timely and crucial. Please go to YouTube, subscribe to the Oregon Property Owners Association YouTube channel, and check out Sam’s video. You’ll learn something.


Sam isn’t the only one who’s worried about homeownership. I came across a YouTube video last week from a TED talk by NYU Professor Scott Galloway entitled “How the US is Destroying Young People’s Future”.  As a parent with one millennial and three Gen Z children, I worry about the future of our country, and wonder why my kids, despite working harder and longer than my generation, have less opportunity to build a secure financial future for themselves than I did.  In his TED talk, Galloway wonders the same thing, but goes on to discuss what he believes are the many reasons why our Boomer leaders are failing America’s youth.

If you watch the Galloway presentation, you’ll find issues you agree with and some you don’t.  One of the main factors, however, is the barrier to homeownership.  Galloway notes that buying a first home is a near impossibility for most young Americans, and without owning a home, there is no chance to build equity.   Adjusted for inflation, young Americans make less money than older generations and housing costs multiple times more than it did for Boomers and Gen Xers.

In the meantime, the average mortgage has doubled in just the last five years alone.

Galloway notes that for the first time in American history, todays 30-year-olds are doing worse financially than their parents.  Not surprisingly, they’re upset about it, and it’s hard to blame them.  They don’t feel good about their prospects, they don’t feel good about America, and they aren’t having children.

None of this is good for America.  Regarding housing, both Galloway and Sam note that a large part of the reason for the dramatic rise in housing costs are (1) a complete lack of supply of housing caused by underbuilding, and (2) the weaponization of government by NIMBY’s to keep their home values artificially high.

In Oregon, we call NIMBY weaponization “citizen participation”.  In reality, it is a disease on property rights, homeownership, the American dream, and the future of our country.

In fact, Oregon has taken NIMBYism to a whole new level.  Heck, Goal 1 of LCDC’s 19 statewide planning goals created by Senate Bill 100 is all about citizen participation.

Don’t get me wrong – the public should have a say in how their community is organized and planned.  But public involvement needs to be made early in the process and on a broad scale, not at the end of the process.

What Oregon does now is allow NIMBY’s to organize and protest at the very end of the process – when a property owner submits an application to develop their property.  The state mandates that local governments allow everyone who wants to show up  to come in, use every possible excuse that they can dream up to oppose the application, file endless appeals to delay the process and cost the property owner money, and foment neighborhood NIMBY opposition to the project.

Over the years, I’ve heard it all:

“This project will cause too much traffic to our quiet neighborhood.”  Apparently, the traffic was just fine when you moved in.

“It doesn’t fit with our community.”

“My neighbor’s cousin’s friend saw an endangered toad on the property.  You are destroying nature’s ecosystem, and all in the name of corporate greed.”

“There’re wetlands on your property.  I know I live in a brand-new house built next-door on the same land that you want to develop, but that’s different, because I say it is.”

“Once upon a time an important historical figure camped there.  You can’t destroy such an important cultural resource.”

“We know no one has ever farmed this property, but some day a farmer might want to lose money by trying to farm it, so we need to preserve it as critical farmland.  No farms/no food!”

These kinds of arguments are frustrating, hypocritical, un-American, and most of the time used as a way to stop a project, not because of an actual concern.  Rather than encouraging NIMBYism, Oregon lawmakers should end it.  We can help.  After all, every NIMBY moved to Oregon at some point.  If it was OK then, it should be OK now.

If you get a chance, check out Sam’s video.  We need to make housing cheaper and more affordable to our young Oregonians.  Despite the grumbling that every generation of older people engage in, today’s 20–40-year-olds are hardworking, honest, dependable Oregonians.  They want the same thing that our generation has.  We should help them, not get in their way.