“NIMBYs” Belittle Legitimate Concerns About New Development


By Dom Nozzi

Speaking as a town planner with decades of experience, I have observed countless supposedly enlightened citizens who strongly support various land use changes EXCEPT when it is near their home (this is the classic NIMBY — Not In My Back Yard — sentiment).

While I sympathize with some of the reasons for opposition — bizarre modernist design that fails to fit in with the neighborhood, or car-happy design that provides too much surface parking —  I have very little patience for opposition that worsens overall community quality of life.

For example, the main opposition to proposed development, by far, is a fear that the new development will “crowd my roads or parking spaces.” That sort of opposition tends to be counterproductive, as it results in such things as higher per capita car trips, less neighborhood-based shopping, more Big Box retail, less sociability, less walking/bicycling, and higher local taxes. It is also snobbish, in part because it selfishly suggests the attitude that “I’ve arrived. You can pull up the ladder now.”

It must also be noted that impacts of nearby development can be reduced or neutralized if the city puts sufficient dollars into code enforcement (noise control and parking control, for example).

I have noticed that too many opponents of proposed development tend to exaggerate the proposal. A 3-story building is commonly referred to as a “high rise.”

I have also noticed that many people who LOVE vacationing in charming, walkable, compact European towns fight aggressively against proposed development that would move their own community incrementally in that direction. I sense that a number of folks tend to verge on being misanthropic, and tend to dislike the elements of what makes a city wonderful.

To which I must ask of such people: “Why did you choose to live in a city if you dislike cities?”

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