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Not in my backyard!!!!!!!!!!!!

H

Cyburbian
Messages
2,850
Points
24
"Not in my backyard!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Everyday something new happens to reconfirm my fears that the only people who care about “planning” are well, um, PLANNERS! I wish/hope/strive for this not to be the case, but….

It seems most citizens only care about “not in my backyard” planning and zoning issues, and most politicians only want to focus on planning and zoning issues that make their voters happy or put money in their brothers dry-wall company’s pocket. So where does that leave planning and zoning?

1) Most people seem to want every vacant parcel by their house to be a park, but wont write a check or wont raise money or taxes to pay for it.

2) Most people seem to want conservation land on the outskirts of the city, but won’t let medium or high density housing in their back yard so the cities keep sprawling on and on and on and on….

3) Most people seem to want less traffic but the wont take public transit or live close to commercial so they can walk, ride their bike or pogo stick.

More and more it seems that zoning is nothing more than a segregation tool for the areas where people don’t want to live next to people with less money than them (i.e. multi-family and apartments).

Last night a homeowner actually said, “I don’t want more apartments in the area (although it is part of the comp plan) because it will bring more of ‘those’ people in the area and they just sit in their pick-up trucks, listen to loud music and drink beer every night”. He got a standing ovation.

There is an enforced noise ordinance and I know the area and doubt this happens.

How can we change this attitude? Or can it be changed? I know the answer is education. However, it seems everyone is an educated smart growth advocate for the neighborhoods across town, but people wont listen if it is in their backyard.

Thoughts?
 

Repo Man

Cyburbian
Messages
2,550
Points
24
I think that almost anywhere you go, you will get the same types of attitudes. However, I think that the majority of people don't necessarily feel that way, just the vocal minority. Most people have a lot better things to do than get worked up over issues like this. The problem is that the people who don't oppose projects typically don't come to public hearings, so government officials only end up hearing the concerns of the NIMBYs.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,078
Points
33
Your comments get to the root of a problem that has developed over the past century. Rather than protect good people, government now assaults them. In the sixties it destroyed public transportation (thank you, Rosa Parks) and public education (no more separate-but-equal). Now it wants to let "those people" live in our neighborhoods! Government needs to protect good people from those different than them, whether because of race or income. While they are at it, reduce property taxes, taxes on wealth and taxes in the upper income brackets. Have you ever tried making the payments on a $500,000 home? It isn't as easy as easy as it is for some blue-collar slob to pay for that "affordable" rental housing you want to put in good people's neighborhoods. There are people who have to put off buying a new Mercedes or vacationing in Europe more than once a year because of the onerous burdens of government. Thank God for George Bush, gated communities and private schools!

(No, that is not what they actually say, but it is what I think every time I hear some of the same old arguments.)
 

Tranplanner

maudit anglais
Messages
7,903
Points
34
Reverse Discrimination?

I was at at public meeting last night which concerned the redevelopment of an older mall located in an inner-city area.

Area residents were quite concerned about the potential influx of wealthier people into the community (the redevelopment proposal is for about 1600 condo units), and the replacement of existing affordable retail stores with higher-end stores that they won't be able to afford to shop at...
 

Budgie

Cyburbian
Messages
5,270
Points
30
Kids Playing

I was at a P&Z hearing concerning a home day care in a single family neighborhood. The only public opponent to the day care (10 kid maximum) said that he plays with his kids in the backyard and he shouldn't have their enjoyment interupted by kids playing two doors down at the day care.

Hell, I have 3 kids and if I through a basketball or soccer ball into my yard, at least 5 or 6 more congregate. Make your neighbors mad. Put up a tether ball pole.

There is no doubt that people are hypersensitive. However, our appointed and elected officials need training to understand what are legitimate public interest concerns versus unsubstantiated fear. They must make findings.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
Points
29
The problem is that we allow people to think that government can or should solve every little problem. "Why can't you prevent my neighbor from painting his apartment building some "Mexican" color-what does he think this is, Haiti?" (Actual quote.
 

Seabishop

Cyburbian
Messages
3,838
Points
25
I think one of the main issues is the idea of entitlement. Every aspect of your life is a "RIGHT!" If you live in a quiet neighborhood, then its your RIGHT not to have kids playing next door. If you happen to live miles from an apartment building, then its your RIGHT to be surrounded by single family houses full of people in your tax bracket (or higher). Not every one can be a home owner, especially in certain markets.

The problem is that for 60 years people have gotten that impression through government imposed single-family only zoning. If the police powers of zoning say that single-family neighborhoods need to be protected from increased density then it must be bad.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,078
Points
33
A local developer created a handfull of lots a few years ago, which he is slowly developing. Throughout the plat review he fought just about everything the city wanted, even saying that any improvements in the adjacent city park land should be on the far side of the park and not up against his lots. Now there is a subdivision proposed adjacent to him. Three or four lots share a common lot line, and he wants the city to place a restriction on these to limit any house constructed on them to one story in height so that the ones he builds on his lots will have better views. Apparently, his development should not be restricted, but others should.

The second developer has even offered to sell these lots to the first developer. Why do I think that, if he bought them and somebody asked for a three-story home, he wouldn't hesitate to build it. Am I just being cynical?
 

Mud Princess

Cyburbian
Messages
4,896
Points
26
Re: "Not in my backyard!!!!!!!!!!!!"

I am active in my local neighborhood organization.

I've been trying very hard to educate my neighbors about planning so that everyone in our organization isn't perceived as being a knee-jerk "NIMBY" type. For example, I've had to explain that a cluster subdivision is not equivalent to low-income housing (especially in a neighborhood not served by public transportation!).... that redevelopment of an older shopping center is a good thing if the alternative is to develop green space... etc.

You are always going to have people that come to public meetings to complain. I think the key is to educate them so they understand the planning process and the viable alternatives.
 

Seabishop

Cyburbian
Messages
3,838
Points
25
BKM said:
The problem is that we allow people to think that government can or should solve every little problem. "Why can't you prevent my neighbor from painting his apartment building some "Mexican" color-what does he think this is, Haiti?" (Actual quote.

Not to be overly PC, but this is where design review can get a little weird. The cultural heritage of a neighborhood normally determines its look over time. To have a review board shooting down the proposals for brightly colored Haitian restaurants in a Haitian neigborhood again and again might not reflect what the people in the neighborhood want. People's tastes in building design and colors varies upon where they're from. Should an urban neighborhood reflect the people living there now or the heritage of what was there 100 years ago?
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
Points
29
We do theoretically have design review over color changes in "commercial" buildings (like apartments), but we typically rubber stamp it.

You are right that it becomes a matter of taste. The reality of the situation is that the buildings in this case were utterly bland stucco boxes with no visual character at all. The brighter colors actually enliven the neighborhood. But, maybe the complaining neighbors want the buildings to recede into the background. Given the utter banality (sorry, El Guapo for being a snob) of the nearby single family housing, I agree with the landlord that the brighter colors are an improvement. Unfortunately, the complainers (always a minority of the population) see the change as a reflection of ethnic/racial change-even though the apartments were already largely inhabited by poorer people who are typically immigrants.

In your ealier post, seabishop, you really catch the heart of the matter: the sense of entitlement facilitated by 60 years of zoning. I have always complained that the upper middle class in this country is the most spoiled population in world history.
 

lowlyplanner

Cyburbian
Messages
69
Points
4
I want to scream out during some of our public meetings - you'll get comments like:

"I don't want them filling in more wetlands. [Fair enough] The drainage out here is terrible - all the water seems to pool in my backyard" [because this person's house is also built on filled-in wetlands, i.e. swamp.]

"I think the proposed development is too dense - it undermines the rural character of the area" [the proposed lots were larger than the lot of the person making this comment.]

And my personal favorite, "Now when I go out of my street [a cul-de-sac], I have to look left and right. If they allow this new development [another cul-de-sac directly across from this person's], I'll have to look across as well."

On the plus side, my neighborhood group has gotten very good about encouraging quality development. In their latest struggle, they encouraged the developer (actually re-developer) of a vacant block to put in more commercial square footage than he originally asked for, with less parking, and a better design, close to the street, etc. They won that one, and the project seems to be making money hand over fist.

I think that NIMBYism may be an appropriate response if you live in a certain kind of neighborhood. The people from the neighborhood I described at the top are probably right - the new houses probably will detract from their quality of life, which is built on driving everywhere, filling in swamp to create more buildable lots [a Florida tradition!], and a mental investment in some kind of "rural character" that hasn't existed for many years.

In a mixed use, walkable neighborhood like the one I live in, development really adds a lot, if it's designed right. I'm really glad to have that grocery store, dry cleaners, sushi place, etc. I think those apartments will provide more customers for the bars and restaurants in the neighborhood.
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
10,624
Points
33
Michael Stumpf said:
Three or four lots share a common lot line, and he wants the city to place a restriction on these to limit any house constructed on them to one story in height so that the ones he builds on his lots will have better views.
I always tell people, "I understand your concern, but if you like the view you have to buy it."
 

Seabishop

Cyburbian
Messages
3,838
Points
25
lowlyplanner said:
I want to scream out during some of our public meetings - you'll get comments like:
"I think the proposed development is too dense - it undermines the rural character of the area" [the proposed lots were larger than the lot of the person making this comment.]
The "rural" comments get me. We haven't been rural since the 1850's but people still use the term. We were quite the little manufacturing powerhouse back in the day, but its as if no one wants to be a "city" anymore. Most homeowners would be content to reduce the population by a few thousand and be a strict bedroom community for the larger cities.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
Points
29
Lowlyplanner:

I agree with you. Infill can contribute a great deal, of course.

In my neighborhood, there was an empty supermarket (one of the small, first generation supermarkets that are now obsolete in the era of 60,000 square foot behemoths) that sat vacant for a good year. Before that it was a marginal furniture store (Hellig-Meyer), part of a chain that went belly-up.

In an ideal world, the site would have been cleared and redeveloped as townhouses, but Vacaville ain't quite there yet.

Given reality, I was happy to see what happened: A local businessman bought the property for his franchise of Gold's Gym. They completely gutted the building-I never thought a 60's era Safeway building could look so good. Now we have activity on that side of downtown. Granted, it is still a suburban site plan, and everyone does drive there-but it is no longer a ghost town.

One of my neighbor's complaints: I won't be able to park on the street. My response: well, what about your two car garage? His response: it is full of junk.

I had no sympathy, and I don't observe a problem-even at peak times.
 

plannerkat

Cyburbian
Messages
204
Points
9
All time personal favorite: "I built my house higher than everyone elses so I wouldn't have these drainage problems. If this development goes through (on property a bit higher than his), then I'll have done that for nothing!"

There was another meeting where renovating a hideous strip mall would destroy the residential character of the tiny gated subdivision built directly behind a Taco Bell and a tire shop. These people also complained about the Taco Bell which pre-dated their homes by a good 10 years.

I have no sympathy for these numbskulls who buy houses on filled in swampland in an already clogged up suburban hell neighborhood and then bitch about traffic and new development. If you buy a house in any part of Florida in a development with "Marsh" in its name or with a creek, aka, drainage basin, running through your yard, please do not complain about your drainage and flooding problems!

Of course, these same people tend to be the ones who oppose any liquor serving establishment within 1500 feet (our ridiculously huge "buffer") of any church or school. Gotta love the south!
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,078
Points
33
"My driveway is on his property and if you let him develop, I won't be able to get to my house. You have to do something about that."

"I bought this property because it was in the country and now you are letting him annex and put all of those houses in there. Both his property and the one "annexing" have been inside the city limits since 1850.
 

132543

Member
Messages
5
Points
0
my favorite quote:" Don't let that meat processing facility expand. The smell was so bad last summer that we had to take our barbeque indoors."
 

apunaha23

Member
Messages
3
Points
0
Sometimes I just wonder what on earth goes through people's minds when they say these things. We have come to the conclusion that our Park District needs to develop more programs so these people will have something better to do with their time. Three most recent comments that continue to amuse and astound me are,

Referring to a special use for a church in a residential district -- "There will be drinking, prostitution, and crime running rampant in the parking area directly behind my house."

on the same topic, another person continues with, "The church proposal is not residential in character and does not belong in the ER district (note every church in town, w/ the exception of the historic district, is located in an ER district adjacent to residential uses). I believe the land should be developed as a community water park." -- umm.. ok.. no church, but a big 'ol water park would be ok?? hmmmm...


Then the best one - a pizza place proposed a new building on the south side of a state ROW. A homeowner from the north side of the state ROW testified that "this development will completely destroy the peace and tranquility of my residence." .....oh ya.. gotta love that peace and tranquility of the highway.. By the way, did anyone tell you it's being widened to 4 lanes?!
 

green22

INACTIVE
Messages
101
Points
6
ninbys

I show up to some of these planning and zoning meetings. While I am not usually a resident of the community, but I find that I speak the language of the planners and may be counted more. There's usually some strange complainers that make don't make much sense.

At a transportation planning session a guy who lived on the edge of the freeway wanted a monorail built over it to lessen traffic. He said he did not want it to be built down the middle of the densely populated arterial running parallel to the freeway. He said, "Oh no, that won't decrease traffic on the Don Valley Parkway at all!"

He also wanted a new entrance ramp built to the freeway from an overpass 2 blocks south of his house. He wanted the freeway widened from that point south to downtown, ( not near his house of course.)
 
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