Dave Chappelle has emerged as one of comedy’s most reliable cranks in his transformation from voice-of-a-generation comedian to transphobic grievance spouter. Jumping from one acronym to the next, Chappelle added NIMBY to his resume at a Monday night town council meeting when he voiced his opposition to an affordable housing initiative in Yellow Springs, Ohio, where he’s lived for the last two decades.
Last September, the Yellow Springs Planning Commission approved a proposal by Chappelle’s Iron Table Holdings, LLC. to open a restaurant and comedy club in town. But not if the council allows this new development to go through.
“I don’t know why the village council is worried about litigation from a $24 million a year company, while it’s out a $65 million-a-year company,” Chappelle said after taking the mic at the meeting, referring to this threat to pull investment from the town. “I cannot believe you would make me audition for you. You look like clowns. I am not bluffing. I will take it all off the table.”
Chappelle’s passionate rant against the initiative went viral yesterday, with the comedian’s critics jumping at the opportunity to rail on the guy who spent much of the last year making the world a worse place for marginalized people. If video of Chappelle threatening to pull a $65 million investment in Yellow Springs had premiered on Netflix, the streamer would call it the most-watched standup special of the year.
It’s a fair assessment, as Slate points out. Chappelle’s opposition seems to be the type of development proposed in Yellow Springs, an older community that Chappelle grew up in. “This place hasn’t changed in 100 years. It’s aesthetically almost identical,” he told Letterman years ago.
However, in a 2017 survey, Yellow Springs residents made it clear that housing in town was too expensive. So when Oberer Land Developers purchased a 52-acre plot of land for a housing development of “townhouses and duplexes in exchange for a park and a plot for affordable housing,” writes Slate.
The development appears to not have been aesthetically pleasing to Chappelle, who would like his community to keep that small-town vibe. Unfortunately, striking down the affordable housing initiative only does that. The development will still move forward, just not with any affordable housing. According to the Dayton Daily News, the developer Ober will build 143 single-family homes starting at about $300,000, instead of “64 single-family homes, 52 duplexes and 24 townhomes with an additional 1.75 acres to be donated to the community for affordable housing to be built later.”
Obviously, the way many communities plan and execute “affordable housing” is another conversation altogether—usually relying on lotteries to place residents or prices that are still outside the budgets of people who need places to live. It’s a flimsy bandaid for a gash that’s becoming more infected every day. But that doesn’t appear to be part of Chappelle’s opposition.
Chappelle’s threats were only part of an overarching plan to kill the development. Other town residents opposed the project based on many common complaints against affordable housing, like traffic, gentrification, overdevelopment, and, um, mosquitos.
Carla Sims, a spokesperson for Chappelle, refuted the characterization of the comedian to NBC. They said, “Neither Dave nor his neighbors are against affordable housing, however, they are against the poorly vetted, cookie-cutter, sprawl-style development deal which has little regard for the community, culture, and infrastructure of the Village.” By the sounds of things, he’ll still get that—but with much wealthier new neighbors.