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Thread: Social functions of NIMBYism

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Seabishop's avatar
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    Social functions of NIMBYism

    Here's a link to an interesting article about the Social Functions of NIMBYism in contemporary life. The author describes the modern public hearing process as "America's last blood sport" but explains its role in the democratic process and in people's disappearing sense of community.

    Sometimes as a planner I feel my job is being the referee to the "blood sport," with the developers and neighbors on opposite sides and the commission as the judges. You try to have everyone follow the rules and be objective and you know that whoever loses feels cheated by the officiating.

    http://www.planetizen.com/node/34505

  2. #2
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    Perhaps, if NIMBYs lived in attractive areas already, they wouldn't be scared of what is being built next to them.

    NIMBYism is a subconscious reaction to the crap being built. People don't like it, it is ugly and intrusive, although most likely identical to their current neighborhood.


    NIMBYs and the petty trifles they bring forth are what is burning me out in this industry. Of course, it is sometimes entertaining to watch!
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Plus PlannerGirl's avatar
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    I don't buy the idea that NIMBYism is about crap, there are plenty of cases where NIMBYs go nuts about a development that is BETTER than the one where they currently live. Honestly humans as a lot do not like change and much of the NIMBY roots is, I think at least, about fear of change.
    "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." Ben Franklin

    Remember this motto to live by: "Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming 'WOO- HOO what a ride!'"

  4. #4
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by PlannerGirl View post
    much of the NIMBY roots is, I think at least, about fear of change.
    Word. .
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  5. #5
    Cyburbian MacheteJames's avatar
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    That's a great article. Nothing prepared me for the fangs-out nastiness that public hearings can bring from residents. I found it entertaining at first but now just find it draining to deal with.

    I just wish humans could be rational creatures. Frankly, I never thought I'd say this, but the developers are almost always the more rational ones in the room. They are like sharks; they're honest about why they're playing the game and what they want to accomplish and don't pretend to be anything but what they are. They may suck a lot of the time, but you know where you stand. The residents, on the other hand, will turn on you in a second. I never imagined myself being an object of hate by the public but having experienced it, I don't like it.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    I have also wondered the degree to which NIMBYism is a product of our "my household against the world" mentality that we have cultivated in our society. It stands in contrast to a more community-focused sentiment where people weigh their personal interests against the collective interests of society and recognize that, at times, personal sacrifices are necessary to benefit the greater good. To generalize, I think much of the rest of the world is more open to "the greater good," though I think the higher the income, the less tolerant folks become.

    Suburbia as a concept gained a lot of ground in part because Americans, especially after WWII, embraced the idea that the household unit is a self-contained unit that exists independent of (rather than in connection or collaboration with) the neighbors. It worked great for an exploding economy and population. Everyone has a TV, dishwasher, washer and dryer and lawnmower to deal with the needs that occur within their picket fence. A man's home is his castle, they say, and castles are built to be defended against the hordes lurking outside.

    I'm not saying that NIMBYism exists only in suburbia, but that the mentality of suburban life supports it within our collective psyche. I also recognize that sometimes local opposition to something new is entirely justified. The cement plant across from the community center (a real case from Albuquerque) clearly represents incompatible land use and should be opposed.
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  7. #7

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    I lectured on this subject to an undergrad planning class several years ago. I didn't give them the thesis, but they could see where it was going and most saw the acronym with a different view at the end.

    In my view, NIMBYism is part of the human condition, and part of it is reluctance for change that we don't control. Add to that the fact in America for many their largest investment is their home. Add to that much of our built environment after WWII is cr*p, and its no wonder people's quality of life is tied to their house and lot. Resource scarcity and increasing competition for resources is making it tougher every day, and NIMBYism is one way of exercising power. Is this good or bad? It is what it is.

  8. #8
    It seems to me NIMBYism revolves around either being afraid of change, or not being able to put the greater good ahead of personal good.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian
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    Author is a lawyer for a real estate development firm; has never worked outside of Massachusetts; lives in a historical district that's protected from development.

    Author has decided that he's an expert in the fields of social psychology and social anthropology; he's a guru on the inner thoughts of people who oppose developers.

    "Father knows best" is going to enlighten us stupider folk, and he's going to do it with his wonderful sense of humor.

    I hope that nobody falls for his shtick.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Anti-NIMBY

    The Economist has a nice article on why we should fight NIMBYism and "planning regulations" to get back to building new homes!

    "Policy-makers should deal with the planning regulations and NIMBYism that inhibit housebuilding and which allow homeowners to capture super-normal returns on their investments."

    http://www.economist.com/blogs/freee...tyfirstcentury

    The money out there is pissed that someone (Piketty) has called them out on inequality through the science of Economic Analysis. So they are digging deap to find anything they can to.....oh what's that over there......SHINY

    What was I saying??
    “The way of acquiescence leads to moral and spiritual suicide. The way of violence leads to bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers. But, the way of non-violence leads to redemption and the creation of the beloved community.”
    Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
    - See more at: http://www.thekingcenter.org/king-ph....r7W02j3S.dpuf

  11. #11
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    NIMBYism is 100% political and has nothing to do with policy or regulations. There is no "doing away with it" in the world of urban planning as long as there is some semblance of democracy in the process. These economists have no common sense.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian dvdneal's avatar
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    As long as there is a realtor who tells their client that the dirt lot will be a park some day there will be NIMBYs to demand that park. I will say that in some cases the NIMBYs are right, but that usually involves a nuclear waste dump or something.
    I don't pretend to understand Brannigan's Law. I merely enforce it.

  13. #13
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by dvdneal View post
    As long as there is a realtor who tells their client that the dirt lot will be a park some day there will be NIMBYs to demand that park.
    Or when the realtor's actually correct and you go to develop it as a park and other NIMBYs complain about the noise and trash, etc that will be generated.

    I read TO's linked article and I had to get a little elitist. Without more information about the student's knowledge/experience base, I greatly question why anyone would think this guy's argument holds much water against Piketty et al's lengthy and exhaustive research for the book.

    Plus, us middle income earners that own a house are most often not part of the 'winners' in the discussion of inequality gap. We're the ever decreasing number of people/households that may get some extra tens of thousands of dollar due the equity built from owning a house for 15+ years (or getting lucky and stepping up the equity ladder through well-timed house sales/purchases).

    We're are not the Mitt Romneys (clearly a 'winner' in this inequality discussion) who simply make many millions of dollars per year from capital gains.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Every day is today. Yesterday is a myth and tomorrow an illusion.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Ten Types of NIMBY in LA

    Check out this very interesting article on the ten types of NIMBY in Los Angeles:
    http://www.laweekly.com/news/a-compr...ngeles-5824550

    My favorite NIMBY group to hate on is the DENSITY NIMBY:
    "The Density NIMBYs are the remnants of L.A.'s famed slow-growth movement, which somehow succeeded in cutting Los Angeles' housing capacity from 10 million in 1960 to around 4.3 million today."

    No wonder rents are so high in that $#it #ole
    “The way of acquiescence leads to moral and spiritual suicide. The way of violence leads to bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers. But, the way of non-violence leads to redemption and the creation of the beloved community.”
    Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
    - See more at: http://www.thekingcenter.org/king-ph....r7W02j3S.dpuf

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