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Zoning/NIMBY type of collective action (was: Help with a paper!)


Hi everyone, long time no posts. Sorry about that. Life's (read: school's) been crazy.

Anyway, I have a question to ask. In one of my classes I have to write a paper on a collective action problem. If anyone knows of a zoning or NIMBY type of collective action situation (if that makes any sense) I would greatly appreciate some help. Also, a link to a website or something would be outstanding.

My paper is due April 16th (Friday) so I have a bit of time left.

Please email me at izzybuff (at) mac.com. I don't check the boards as often as I should, so I might not see any replies here.

Again, Thanks and I appreciate anything!! 8-! :-}

(Dan) Munged the e-mail address to prevent spam to the OP. Replace (at) with @.


Dear Leader
Staff member
ebeech121 said:
Please email me at *****. I don't check the boards as often as I should, so I might not see any replies here.

(Dan) Please repost anything that's mailed to ebeech121, so this thread is continued for the benefit of other Cyburbia users.

Moved to Zoning and Land Use.


Hmm... well, i can tell you that in the state of Montana, zero out of the 53 (or 54 or whatever) counties have county-wide zoning, meaning that if citizens want zoning, they petition for their own district. the rules specify (pretty sure on this) that the district has to be at least 640 acres and at least 60% of the landowners have to agree.

the way it oftentimes works is this: a bunch of people live out in rural montana with virtually no rules/regulations. A developer or a strip-club owner or a hog farm operator or a coal bed methane company or any other potentially unwanted use decides to set up shop and do their thing in the middle of this unregulated area. In many cases around the state, this means that little bands of citzens (often powered simply by a NIMBY desire) band together and zone the area to regulate the unwanted use. Sometimes, there is legitimately good planning that drives the process and which provides the basis for creative, flexible regulations. Most of the time, however, this results in multiple little NIMBY districts all over the county. Gallatin county, for example, has 17 citizen petitioned zoning districts and about 7 more in the hopper. Flathead county and Missoula county both have about 50 districts. You can guess what kind of a nightmare for the planning dept. this is, though not as much of a nightmare as having nothing at all in place.

When this system was set up in Montana some years back, it was hailed as the ultimate in citizen-driven planning. The result, however, has been that county commissioners are able to take a big step back from responsibility and say, "hey, if the people want zoning, they'll do it themselves", meaning that good planning in Montana is going to require some serious leadership on the part of county decision makers. It has also set up a constant, often angry, debate about top-down regulating versus grassroots regulating that usually misses the mark, as any kind of decent, county-wide system in that state is going to have to start at the top but get wide-spread public involvement/support from the bottom.

It seems like this might fit your bill of both NIMBY action and zoning regulation all predicated on collective action. The results show that collective action, if not properly guided or facilitated, doesn't always result in the best end product, but its something, I guess.

You could try getting in touch with any number of Montana counties to investigate this if its at all up your alley.

(Dan- I'm pre-empting ebeech21 by going ahead and posting this along with emailing her).
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