Why Is California YIMBY Hiding the Names of Big-Money Contributors?
California YIMBY, the land-use lobbying group for Big Tech, continues to hide behind its nonprofit status and refuses to reveal exactly who contributes the big bucks to the organization. California YIMBY CEO Brian Hanlon has never replied to Housing Is A Human Right’s demand to name the lobbying group’s top 50 contributors, even though its pro-gentrification agenda harms millions of Californians.
In October 2021, Housing Is A Human Right sent a letter to California YIMBY CEO Brian Hanlon. We wrote: “Over the past several years, California YIMBY has been working to pass and influence statewide land-use and housing legislation that negatively impacts the lives of millions of middle- and working-class Californians.
“With so much at stake, we believe California YIMBY should be transparent about its funding sources. We’re requesting that you release the names of your top fifty contributors and the dollar amounts of each contribution for the years 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021.”
We never heard back from Hanlon and California YIMBY.
California YIMBY can hide contributors because of its status as a nonprofit, allowing the Big Tech lobbying group to withhold that information from the public.
But we do know that Big Tech executives founded California YIMBY, installing Hanlon as the chief executive officer. We also know that Big Tech executives have been major contributors to California YIMBY and its political action committee, California YIMBY Victory Fund. Stripe contributed $100,000 to the victory fund, and Arista Networks co-founder Kenneth Duda shelled out two checks of $100,000 each. Those are just two examples.
Stripe co-founders Patrick and John Collison also sent a gigantic $1-million check to California YIMBY, and Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman, tech investor Jared Friedman, and Stripe executive Cristina Cordova also made contributions. Within its first year, California YIMBY had raised $500,000 from “tech bigwigs,” reported The Real Deal in 2017.
In that article, Hanlon stated, “Virtually all of the money that we’ve raised has come from the tech industry. I am certainly willing to accept money from developers, it’s just that I’ve gotten a much better reception from tech leaders than from real estate people.”
Let’s repeat that: Hanlon is “certainly willing to accept money from developers.” Hmmmm.
That was more than four years ago when Hanlon said that. Housing Is A Human Right and other housing justice activists suspect that Big Real Estate has since jumped on the California YIMBY bandwagon. But no one knows for sure because Hanlon and California YIMBY won’t divulge its contributors.
In the meantime, Hanlon and Big Tech have been delivering campaign cash to state legislators such as Toni Atkins, Tyler Diep, and Scott Wiener — the King of Corporate YIMBYs in Sacramento. Read our special report, “Inside Game: California YIMBY, Scott Wiener, and Big Tech’s Troubling Housing Push.”
Hanlon tries to frame Corporate YIMBYs as underdogs, but that’s laughable.
California YIMBY was founded and funded by Big Tech, one of the most powerful and wealthy industries in the world. And California YIMBY is most probably funded by Big Real Estate, another heavyweight industry. On top of all that, California YIMBY has a direct connection to power in Sacramento through its close and longtime relationship with State Sen. Scott Wiener. California YIMBY is hardly an underdog.
Instead, California YIMBY and other Corporate YIMBY groups are implementers for Corporate America. It’s why we use the term “Corporate YIMBYs.” It’s more accurate.
The organization works feverishly to implement Big Real Estate’s and Big Tech’s pro-gentrification, trickle-down, luxury-housing agenda by pushing statewide legislation. The legislation always enriches Big Real Estate, but devastates middle- and working-class neighborhoods.
As we noted in our new book, Selling Off California: The Untold Story, California YIMBY and other Corporate YIMBY groups are part of a powerful triumvirate that includes influential politicians and Big Real Estate. Big Real Estate calls the shots, and then Corporate YIMBYs and politicians implement the real estate industry’s self-serving, greed-driven agenda.
California YIMBY must come clean about who finances its operations. Housing Is A Human Right still demands that Brian Hanlon and California YIMBY publicly release the names and amounts of its top 50 contributors. With millions of people negatively impacted by California YIMBY’s legislative push, the public should be informed about who’s running the show behind the scenes at California YIMBY.
Patrick Range McDonald, the author of this article, is the award-winning advocacy journalist for Housing Is A Human Right.