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A field guide to NIMBYism

I sometimes refer to those opposing any change as NIMBYs, though that's not precisely accurate. The term NIMBY originally referred to those who wanted projects like highways, airports, or waste disposal facilities (LULUs) but wanted them to just be built elsewhere. That still describes many opponents of local projects, like the "save the environment somewhere else" contingent, but as this article in Planetizen explains, the vocabulary has grown to add such terms as BANANA (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything) or CAVE people (Citizens Against Virtually Anything Everything).

Beall's Grant, a bland affordable garden apartment complex in Rockville. Photo from the property management.

Labels aside, as the article argues, citizen participation plays an important role in development. Developers and government planners often propose bad ideas, and it's good that citizens have a voice and the power to change them. Jane Jacobs became an activist to oppose a local highway project. This National Academy of Sciences report finds that public participation improves plans more than it damages them. The solution is not to diminish citizen involvement, but to better organize the many residents who share a vision for a better city, not just a static one, and to help the good projects while hindering the bad ones.

Empowering people is always a double-edged sword. Just look at the way anti-bike activist Rob Anderson used environmental law to block new bicycle facilities in San Francisco. But just as democracy is the worst form of government except all the others, the political process is the worst way to resolve an issue except for any other method.

Still, NIMBYism is frustrating. The Examiner reports on a campaign by some Rockville residents to block affordable housing in their neighborhood. All the same arguments show up: it's "out of character" (four-story buildings next to one-story ones), it'll create traffic, and the ultimate proxy of subtle racism: it'll cause crime.

Affordable housing doesn't mean drug dealers, despite the reputation of old-style Section 8 government projects. Most people living in affordable housing are working to make a decent living; we can't all be so fortunate to work as attorneys at top law firms. Much affordable housing today is so-called "workforce housing" for police officers, teachers, and others doing important jobs that ought to be better rewarded. It's in every community's best interest to have the backbones of their society live in town.

NIMBYism puts governments like Montgomery County in a bind: either they build affordable housing near affluent areas and fight the well-organized political opposition, or they locate it all in the eastern part of the county and open up criticism that the area is "a dumping ground for affordable housing."

Choosing between bland garden apartments in the richer parts of the county or bland garden apartments in the poorer parts isn't much of a choice. Imagine, DC wonders if we can't do better. Auto-dependent garden apartments isolate their residents from the rest of the community, wherever they are. How about some walkable affordable housing near existing town centers and transit, like Wheaton near the mall, by Montgomery College, or (in anticipation of the Silver Line) Tysons?

Of course, organized residents would surely shout all the louder about the loss of character, traffic, crime, school impacts, and all the rest of the standard arguments. At least if we can build near transit, there's hope that development won't mean paralyzing traffic.

David Alpert is the founder of Greater Greater Washington and its board president. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He now lives with his wife and two children in Dupont Circle. 


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CAVE is Citizens Against Virtually EVERYTHING, not "anything," hence the acronym CAVE.

by Stanton Park on Aug 26, 2008 5:10 pm • linkreport

I find it ridiculous that in earlier posts you called for civility and so on, while here you just blast people who disagree with you full in the face. Stop painting with a broad brush.

by Jazzy on Aug 26, 2008 5:22 pm • linkreport

I don't think David Alpert "brushed with a broad brush" in this post. I thought he explained how and why public input is important and that he did so without discounting the importance of the input from people whose views differ from his own. He didn't attack anyone, just described how/where the differences in views are manifested. If someones publicly stated view can be interpreted as, "I'm an environmentalist but not this time..." that's clearly inconsistent and someone should not be protected from having his/her inconsistency pointed out. If it's not an inconsistency then its a miscommunication and the person then should explain better what s/he meant.

I interpreted the earlier call for civility as directed to the people who communicate with one another through the comments section of this blog.

by Bianchi on Aug 26, 2008 6:45 pm • linkreport

I find his characterization of people who take a different or opposite view of his as "NIMBY," to be offensive.

Call me oversensitive, sure. But it doesn't help the promotion of civility in debates. I agree with much of what he says here. I just hate the word NIMBY. It inflames. It just does.

by Jazzy on Aug 26, 2008 7:31 pm • linkreport

Jazzy: I didn't mean it to be offensive here. I wrote this piece keying off the Planetizen article which threw around the term loosely (and generally non-pejoratively).

by David Alpert on Aug 26, 2008 7:41 pm • linkreport

Wheaton's a pretty affordable area, compared to most of MoCo - new $600,000 townhouses notwithstanding. There are a lot of older garden apartment complexes that are pedestrian-friendly, located near transit and the mall. And if there aren't enough, I know the new MetroPointe apartments (directly atop the station) will include some subsidized units.

It's rarely held up as a good example of anything, but for now at least, Wheaton does a nice job of providing affordable housing near transit and shopping.

by dan reed on Aug 26, 2008 7:51 pm • linkreport

I have a problem with the concept to begin with. I don't believe in it. I think relying on the term and concept as you do, is frankly, a bit lazy, short-hand for something. It's also disrespectful, and again, inflammatory.

It's as if you're trying to signal other people to say, "look at THEM."

Or something.

You use the term a lot, it seems.

by Jazzy on Aug 26, 2008 7:59 pm • linkreport

Jazzy, how would you prefer people refer to individuals or groups who use any means necessary, including race, to stifle any changes in urban communities across the country?

At any given moment, there may be some legitimate concerns about process, infrastructure load or other issues, but if communities work together, progress can be made to better the natural environment, the built environment, increase the tax base and provide much needed moderate-income housing in generally built out areas.

However, using recent examples of proposals in Brookland and Tenleytown, it is clear that some individuals and groups are willing to toss out the kitchen sink rather than working constructively to bring about much needed change in the region.

Sure, maybe you don't like the term, but how would you refer to such people and groups without being verbose?

by William on Aug 26, 2008 9:14 pm • linkreport

It's name-calling. It's too general. It's inflammatory, and disrespectful. It misses the point. It's inaccurate. I don't call you names just because I can lump you in with others who hold your opinion that I disagree with.

It's so elementary to me that I kind of cannot believe I am having to explain this at all.

Don't call people names just because they have a different opinion than you.

How would I refer to people who have a different opinion than me? I don't know, I wouldn't call them old geezers or young and naive or whatever other adjective I am imagining I can characterize them by at the time.

I would deal with the arguments, and the merits thereof. Not the people or the characteristics I think or imagine they have or share.

by Jazzy on Aug 26, 2008 9:46 pm • linkreport

Jazzy: I think we're all conflating two factors.

On the one hand, NIMBY has taken on something of a pejorative connotation. For that reason, I agree there are reasons to avoid using it.

But there's still a difference between that and something like "old geezers," which lumps people together based on a quality other than their shared belief (in that case, age with the implication of senility).

There's a concrete philosophy of anti-change-ism shared by many people, of not wanting density, wanting to maintain development that fits the ideal of the quintessential garden suburb, and to encase our existing built environment in amber. It's appropriate to find a descriptive term for this philosophy.

by David Alpert on Aug 26, 2008 10:36 pm • linkreport

Nope. I disagree. I do not think it is appropriate to find a term for what you THINK is their philosophy. I mean, of course, you can opine on it somewhere in your discourse. You are free to relate why you think they have the opinion they do. But to sort of blanket label someone you disagree with is name-calling. They would never characterize themselves as anti change, would they? For me, it is not dissimilar to me coming out and calling you and anyone who has lived here less than three or five years as NEWBIE, but of course that is not nearly as mean-sounding. It would reflect really badly on me, though.

Again, for me, though I get what you are after, it is a bit of a cop out for more thinking and of course more decency and civility.

How can you not see that it is an ad hominen argument?

by Jazzy on Aug 27, 2008 6:37 am • linkreport


An ad hominem is where you sidestep the substance of the argument and instead attack the person making the argument on an unrelated point. An example would be if you were to call David insensitive or boorish instead of engaging his thesis.

Using the term NIMBY is not an ad hominem attack because the term, by its very definition, engages the substance of the argument made by the other side. By summing up the other side's argument in more general terms, it facilitates evaluation of their arguments by analogy to other situations where these arguments have been made before.

The reason NIMBY is not generally offensive is precisely because it is not name-calling. It characterizes the argument made by the other side, not the character of the person on the other side of the argument. Charges of NIMBY-ism are not always accurate, but when they're inaccurate a reasonable response would be to explain how the argument made in this case was misunderstood and is not just another example of the same old "not in my back yard" reasoning.

Use of the word NIMBY is only hurtful if the charge is spot-on. It only hurts if there's no retort available because the other side's true argument has been revealed. But that kind of hurt isn't offensive; it's merely a revelation of the truth.

by Dan on Aug 27, 2008 9:17 am • linkreport

I don’t think NIMBYism is always bad. It really depends on what is going there. If DC was to open a methadone clinic on my street, I would oppose it. I think most people buy or rent in an area because they like the way it is at that time. For example, when I bought my townhouse, I didn’t want to backup to an apartment building so I would have some privacy in the back yard. I would not be eager for one to be built today and would oppose it (I’m sure I would loose).

Often you see the terms ‘workforce housing’ in the same sentence with ‘teachers, police, and public employees’. Why not build some workforce housing with preference for local public employees first? This kind of housing could be used as a recruiting/retention policy. In the case of rentals, it would only be fair to charge market rates for any tenants who have left public employment. I think you would face less opposition to projects like this.

by Adams Morgan on Aug 27, 2008 10:20 am • linkreport

@Adams Morgan You are seeing opposition to just such housing proposals around the city ostensibly by people who are being offended at being labeled as NIMBYs.

by William on Aug 27, 2008 11:25 am • linkreport

NIMBYs have ruined legitimate opposition. A common NIMBY tactic is the shotgun approach - throw out any and all reasons to oppose something (even if opposition cases are antithetical to each other - for example, being opposed to something because it will hurt housing values, but also because of gentrification and displacement due to more affluence in the area). This kind of disconnect is a key indicator of a NIMBY rather than legitimate opposition.

by Alex B. on Aug 27, 2008 11:36 am • linkreport

Dan @ 9:17 am has got it.

NIMBY is not offensive precisely because it is an attack on the argument a person is making.

If you are offended by NIMBY being used incorrectly, then fine. I agree it is bandied about too frequently to describe anyone in opposition, not necessarily true NIMBYs.

On the other hand, if you are offended by the term being used correctly, then I have no sympathy. I am offended by the negative social effects caused by such a sense of entitlement.

by BeyondDC on Aug 27, 2008 11:45 am • linkreport

Jazzy - The article in the link gives the history of NIMBYism and shows it as an important manifestation of civic participation that has benefited communities and expanded democracy. I am a proud NIMBY. I fought hard against the road in Klingle Valley and I am prepared to continue that fight if needed. Although for me that road under those conditions would really be more a NIABY. But, geographically, I was truly a NIMBY! And I never tried to argue I wasn't. It was obvious I was. What do I care if someone tries to diminsh my point of view by calling me a NIMBY? They would be too in my position.

D.A.s point and the last part of the article he references is about how the evolution of this particular civic participation has become, in the last decade, an obstacle to development that ultimately is more environmentally sound and better for the greater public health than other types of development. The point is that everyones voice is equal and how do we build a man-made environment that translates all the accumlated knowledge about the environment and public health from the last 40 years into projects in our communities. The development, or bulding projects, are going to happen anyway. They will be either less or more supportive of public health (walkable, transit using). The challenge is that, of course the view of the person who doesn't want the change in their neighborhood is legitimate, powerful and sympathetic. So how to procede? That's the challenge. Personally I think education is a key element. You seem to think dropping NIMBY from the lexicon is important. Not everyone is as offended by the term as you. I have embraced it as an accurate description of myself. I do think you needlessly harshed on D.A. with the language you used to "blast" him "full in the face" when all he was trying to do is open a discussion about a real life challenge. The challenge is that we are going to have building projects no matter what. Will they tear up more farmland and encourage more pollution and sedentary living or will they help us meet the very real challenge of sustaining life in the future?

by Binachi on Aug 27, 2008 11:48 am • linkreport

Bianchi: Thanks for the defense. I'm not sure I'd call you a NIMBY, though. Your opposition to Klingle was perhaps stronger because it was near you, but you don't believe roads such as those are appropriate anywhere. That's a different type of opposition.

NIMBYism is when people argue that building something is appropriate, but it shouldn't be in their community. If you felt that we should build I-95 through from Greenbelt to the I-395 terminus at New York Avenue, but not a road in Klingle, that'd be NIMBY. But if you simply believe that building new highways is inappropriate, that's something else.

Likewise, when people say, we believe in transit-oriented development and want more affordable housing, but our community isn't the place for it, and we should preserve the open parking-lot space at our Metro station, that's NIMBY. On the other hand, the people arguing against parking minimums aren't NIMBYs. They truly believe that parking minimums are an appropriate tool. I disagree, and object to that overall suburban-mindset outlook on the city, but it's not NIMBY.

by David Alpert on Aug 27, 2008 11:57 am • linkreport

@Adams Morgan Workforce housing is defined to serve families who earn up to 120% of the area median income. This translates into a monthly rent of approximately $2,570 for a family of four, which has an income in excess of $110,000 a year. Yet, in 2007, the median household income in the District was less than half that amount. In 2007, 72% of District households and 64% of District families had incomes below $100,000.

Developers like to use the term “workforce housing” to create the appearance of providing subsidized housing for teachers, police and other public employees, but the actual subsidies, if it is subsidized at all, are minimal and the rent would be out of range for most teachers and police.

by J on Aug 27, 2008 12:04 pm • linkreport

Your photo of the "bland affordable housing project in Rockville" caught my attention since I was project manager and president of Montgomery Housing Partnership, the non-profit developer when it was purchased from the RTC as a foreclosed motel and rehabbed into good use. It may not be beautiful but the mixed-income residents from many nations housed there have been a wonderful community for more than 10 years...and it's also within walking distance to the Metro, a rarity for affordable housing in the suburbs. A larger addition is planned next door, hopefully more to your taste when completed!

by Tad Baldwin on Aug 27, 2008 3:14 pm • linkreport

I think David gets closest to it in his last comment, but the heart of NIMBYism, and the reason it's a problem, is a free rider problem.

The best example is a landfill. It's a social good that everyone benefits from, but individuals and communities oppose having it put in their "back yard." They want to reap the rewards of waste management without paying the costs of an unsightly landfill in their neighborhood. Labeling someone and/or their argument a NIMBY is certainly a criticism, but it's not a pejorative statement per se.

And I certainly agree that the term is thrown around far too often. It seems to have slowly expanded to indicate any community opposition to development, regardless of their reasoning. Not only does that cheapen the term by blurring it's meaning, but it diminishes the importance of civic participation in the planning process.

by RyanA on Aug 27, 2008 3:42 pm • linkreport

In many of the posts above, it seems that labeling groups and individuals as NIMBY’s or applying one of the other pejorative descriptions is linked to a perception that opponents of some projects are “anti-change,” have an inflated “sense of entitlement” or simply don’t understand how a particular project is good for the environment. It was stated that “using the term NIMBY is not an ad hominem attack because the term, by its very definition, engages the substance of the argument made by the other side.” Yet, there are very few groups or individuals that actually fit these descriptions, or the most restrictive definition: opposition to undesirable uses near their homes, but not elsewhere.

In this blog, these terms are used quite frequently and loosely to refer to any individual or group that opposes a project which the developer claims is consistent with some smart growth policy. Frequently, the information provided in the post indicates that the writer does not know the details of the project or why the group opposes the project. It is hard to claim that the term engages the substance of the argument made by the other side, when the person posting has not made an effort to understand the why the project faces opposition. Many of these individuals and groups seek a better built environment and a better natural environment, but they also are all too familiar with the details of the proposals, the conditions in the area, and have the experience and information to evaluate the project’s impact. Labeling these individuals or groups as NIMBYs doesn’t sum up the other side’s argument and facilitate an evaluation of their arguments, since the posts do not indicate an understanding of the other side's argument, include the necessary background information or indicate that research into the merits of the project has not done. For most of these posts, there is no information beyond the existence of opposition and a superficial and frequently inaccurate description, such as a statement that a project will increase density near a transportation corridor. It is impossible to determine whether a project is beneficial without much more information about the existing conditions and the proposal. That evaluation can be facilitated by making an effort to determine why the project faces opposition, rather than simply labeling anyone as a NIMBY, BANANA or CAVE who opposes a project which has been characterized by its proponents as smart growth or transit oriented development.

This isn’t so much about dropping NIMBY and the other pejoratives from the lexicon, but about doing research to understand the impact of a project beyond just repeating slogans. The first step is the really understand the proposal and to try to really understand the position that others are taking, rather than dismissing them with a label.

by Kim on Aug 27, 2008 4:55 pm • linkreport

Kim, at some point, many of the development proposals inherently have societal benefits, even if, gasp, developers are to make money on them.

So really, people opposed to projects can have a variety of reasons for doing so, but at the end of the day, either these projects happen with some degree of positive engagement from the impacted community, or else more greenfields get plowed under.

Pick the poison.

by William on Aug 27, 2008 8:07 pm • linkreport

'So really, people opposed to projects can have a variety of reasons for doing so'

Then why label them?

by Jazzy on Aug 27, 2008 8:35 pm • linkreport

Because in my experience, the excuses are often throwing in scare tactics, buzzwords and innuendo to mask for plain 'not in my backyard'.

If there are serious issues, then they should be vetted and stakeholders should be working together towards resolution, but to constantly throw roadblocks and new hurdles of excuses for community investment and improvement, particularly at the expense of rural greenspace, is well, silly.

I am simply speaking from my personal experience and am not representative of all development issues across the city, region or nation.

by William on Aug 27, 2008 10:11 pm • linkreport

Kim, your comments are proof of the existence of such misguided opposition. I try not to use that word, but if you approach the issue seeing not NIMBY people but NIMBY sentiment, then it becomes clear many people, probably most, have a reflexive opposition to change in something they treasure.

The sense of entitlement is one major aspect, and you'll see that opponents in wealthier, whiter neighborhoods attack projects from a perspective of "this will harm my environment, (which is very good)." This was witnessed at the Cafritz Estate/Field School, where the need to put in a traffic light on a traffic thoroughfare was seen as a major detriment to the life of the neighborhood. Similarly, opposition to the Purple Line is centered around homeowners and a country club, who need to point blame at the only entity bigger than them to blame for the occasional disturbance by a potential future train. They claim it's about development and against the environment, when the development is insignificant, and independent experts generally agree that it's good for the environment.

This shotgun approach is the most obvious sign that a group is unreasonable. People who were barely involved in the neighborhood will throw everything at them, from insufficient notice, to aesthetic complaints, hydrology issues, and traffic increases. Moreover, they shoot first, before the pro side has stated their case more than a few preliminary renderings and a project description.When the Washington Home wanted to expand by three hospice beds and rearrange their parking lot to accommodate it, they were attacked mercilessly that it would ruin the private park that the Home had long let neighbors enjoy. You could see in the eyes of the administrators and architects that they did not see this coming, and this was the first time anyone had seen the plans.

And race. A project I worked on in Brooklyn had inclusive zoning. It was a great way to increase the affordable housing stock for families. Density of poverty has been shown to be the biggest factor in housing projects, so putting a handful of people in a commercial condominium has had good success at keeping kids out of crime and improving life for contributing citizens. But to hear the response, you would think that we were was driving Pruitt-Igoe into the neighborhood with Stringer Bell coming along for the ride. The racism was disgusting, although everyone in their liberal guilt proclaimed, "Of course they need housing, but why don't they just make better projects somewhere else. They weren't listening.

You say that many of these groups seek a better environment. But they take no productive action and are unwilling to pay the price for it. I've been to a lot of ANC meetings and a handful of Council meetings, and it's always the same opposition, without a reasonable alternative. But in the end, it's fear, greed, and nosiness all too often.

So Kim, I would ask you to give some more concrete evidence that GGW has misunderstood a particular issue. For example, in the Vienna dense development kerfluffle, I never once got the sense an opponent was willing to try something new or understand the concept of transit-oriented development. If you'd like to fault anyone, fault everyone, and not just this blog.

There are plenty of examples where a developer screws the neighborhood, but there are just as many times neighborhood elements screw the city - or a poor neighborhood - as a whole. Sorry I couldn't keep a nicer tone, but after being yelled at for slightly disturbing people's lives, I just can't take such silly justifications.

by The King of Spain on Aug 28, 2008 1:22 am • linkreport

Actually, NIMBYism is not great but it's not all that bad either. How else will greater-greater's great and not-so-great ideas be put to the test.

What we really need is an online tool, that can calculate the net utility of all public works projects based on individual citizen's preferences. It would be an innovation on the scale of greater-greater's automated tunnel digging robot.

Until then we will have to depend on things like the market and public hearings. They are ok but not great.

by Have a great day on Aug 28, 2008 1:07 pm • linkreport

How would you calculate the utility of someone's preference? How is "prefernce" quantifiable? Isn't the public hearing the quantifiable measure where yeas and nays are counted up?

by Bianchi on Aug 28, 2008 1:44 pm • linkreport

It seems as though William and “King” have rejected the notion that it might be appropriate to confirm the existing conditions and the details of a project, rather than simply relying on a developer’s press release, and to determine why a project faces opposition, again not simply based on the developer’s press release, before labeling individuals or a group as NIMBYs. Seems that there are two different reasons offered: one the basic assumption that nearly all proposals are beneficial, and the other being that all opponents are “anti-change” and any concerns that cannot be directly labeled as a NIMBY concern are simply being offered to mask the NIMBY concerns. In that world, I can understand why one might not be interested in learning the facts before reaching conclusions about the merits of various projects and trying to understand the motivation of the groups that might oppose them. The merits of the projects and motivation of any opponents are already assumed to be known. However, that isn’t a world that I am familiar with, and working with those assumptions doesn’t promote civil discourse.

As I said earlier, my issue was not so much with the use of these pejorative terms, but with the unwillingness to acknowledge that many projects claim to be beneficial in some way, but the claims are not supported by the facts, and many groups in opposition to projects have real concerns, and that those concerns are based on experience and knowledge. Discussion should begin with an effort to determine all the parameters of the proposal and to carefully evaluate its impact, and learning more about why there is opposition to a project can facilitate the evaluation of its impact.

by Kim on Aug 28, 2008 5:45 pm • linkreport

Kim: I never just assume projects are beneficial. I look at the drawings and make a determination based on available evidence. If there's new evidence, I make a new determination.

I think when someone's vehemently opposing a project, the reasons against seem so obvious and the reasons for so thin that it's easy to conclude anyone who comes out in favor must not have listened. But that might not be true; those supporting might simply disagree.

There have certainly been times where opponents have been persuasive. However, while this may or may not be true in your case, I've also often found that attacks similar to yours most often come up when opponents don't have persuasive counter-arguments. They really are opposing the project because they don't want the particular kind of development in their back yards.

That often leads to "spaghetti" opposition, throwing every argument at the wall to see what sticks. When opponents do that, others tend to discount their arguments, concluding (often rightly) that they really oppose the project for other reasons, but don't want to admit to those.

Why don't you tell me what specific project(s) you think I haven't listened to opposition arguments about, and what arguments specifically should make me change my mind. Because a vague charge of not listening to opposition arguments doesn't mean much to me. As far as I know, I've listened to them, but sometimes I disagree.

by David Alpert on Aug 28, 2008 6:02 pm • linkreport

"I've also often found that attacks similar to yours most often come up when opponents don't have persuasive counter-arguments. They really are opposing the project because they don't want the particular kind of development in their back yards."

Must be a difference in perception then. Because the people I've encountered who opposed certain deals, like the West End one, are against it on principle. They did not oppose it because it is in their back yard. And in fact they work to promote more transparency in government and more fairness throughout the city. They do not support the privatization of public property and that is (just) one of the principles they use to guide them, not because this or that proposed project is in their back yard. If you want to call that kind of opposition spaghetti, there is nothing I can do to stop you. I think you are incredibly wrong if you do that though, and when that happens the debate deteriorates.

by Jazzy on Aug 29, 2008 8:58 am • linkreport

>I think when someone's vehemently opposing a project, the reasons against seem so obvious and the reasons for so thin that it's easy to conclude anyone who comes out in favor must not have listened.

I think a major disconnect between proponents and opponents of proposals like the one in Brookland is whether they are taking a regional or strictly local view.

Regionally speaking there are absolutely no good reasons not to pack as much density into Brookland as possible. To people thinking from a purely regional perspective, anyone opposing new development in Brookland is not paying attention to the arguments.

On the other hand, it makes sense that anyone who bought a home in Brookland did so because they like its existing character. To people who ignore the regional perspective and take a strictly local one, there are good reasons to very carefully control new development, and limit it to forms very similar to what's there now. To people thinking from a purely local perspective, anyone supporting new development in Brookland is not paying attention to the arguments.

Either position in its intellectually pure state is incompatible with the other. The moderate position will strike a balance, admit that Brookland is a good place for more density but that any new development should fit within the context of the existing neighborhood character, then figure out the maximum level of density that doesn't drastically impact that character.

I think one of the big frustrations in the community of regionally-minded people is that so many locally-minded ones are absolutely dead-set against moderating their position and compromising. Nobody from the regional side is seriously proposing 100-story skyscrapers in Brookland, because even though ideologically they could, they *are* listening to the other side enough to know that a 100-story skyscraper wouldn't be welcome. On the other hand, many from the local side seem to abjectly refuse to accept that any new development should happen in their communities.

by BeyondDC on Aug 29, 2008 12:23 pm • linkreport

jazzy- I too am opposed to privatization of public space on principle. You did not say in any of your other comments regarding civic input on building projects that this was your concern. For the sake of communication it would be great if we all were as specific as this in naming our concerns. I think this (private/public space) is an example of the type of concrete information D.A. was looking for we he wrote, "Why don't you tell me what specific project(s) you think I haven't listened to opposition arguments about, and what arguments specifically should make me change my mind."

by Bianchi on Aug 29, 2008 1:14 pm • linkreport

"if we all were as specific as this in naming our concerns."

To me, it does not matter the position one is taking. Name-calling is wrong, no?

by Jazzy on Aug 29, 2008 2:45 pm • linkreport

I too oppose privatization of public spaces, but I'm more focused on protecting the commons than preventing the government from selling land. The plans for Brookland do a good job of preserving green space around the Brooks Mansion while selling off wasted space and parking. A pretty good balance in my book.

And Jazzy, naming something and "name-calling" aren't the same thing. Names help communication, it's not always an insult.

by RyanA on Aug 29, 2008 3:45 pm • linkreport

I think in this case, I've seen more commenters refer to NIMBY as pejorative than not, but whatever. For me, it's disgusting. I see someone use that term and I think there is not a whole lot of trying to really understand the situation here. Just painting with a broad brush.

by Jazzy on Aug 29, 2008 4:25 pm • linkreport

Jazzy, I agree that name calling hinders communication. I'm not prepared to agree that name calling is 'wrong' in a moral sense. But I do agree name calling is bad form, immature, uncivil, unhelpful, alienating, hurtful, even unethical, etc. So is vitriol. Successful communication often requires self-restraint.

by Bianchi on Aug 29, 2008 4:59 pm • linkreport

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