Steven Buss is a self-described “gentrifier,” and he’s on a mission to soothe his conscience. “Look, I am a gentrifier. I’m not going to pretend to be something I’m not. I’m white, I’m relatively wealthy, I work in tech,” he said. “I know my presence in the neighborhood exacerbates gentrification, which is also why I want to help mitigate it.” Buss is the founder of Mission YIMBY, a nascent offshoot of the fast-growing YIMBY (Yes In My Backyard) movement that argues that San Francisco’s displacement problem is fueled by a lack of housing — market-rate housing, affordable housing, all of it. So, just build more housing, they say. Buss and Mission YIMBY, on the other hand, call for something slightly different: more affordable housing in the Mission, and much more market-rate housing everywhere else. He sees opportunity for market-rate housing in neighborhoods like Noe Valley that, Buss asserts, have historically limited higher-density developments by zoning its land for single-family homes. “The Mission is already doing its part — it’s doing more than its part — but what I really care about is forcing the other neighborhoods to build more,” he said, sipping a beer at El Rio last week, where he and some 15 other like-minded YIMBYs, most from the tech industry, were holding a Friendsgiving.
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