NIMBY, an acronym for the phrase “not in my back yard“, or Nimby, is a characterization of opposition by residents to proposed developments in their local area, as well as support for strict land use regulations. It carries the connotation that such residents are only opposing the development because it is close to them and that they would tolerate or support it if it were built farther away. The residents are often called Nimbys, and their viewpoint is called Nimbyism.
Examples of projects likely to be opposed include any sort of housing development, bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, skyscrapers, homeless shelters, oil wells, chemical plants, oil and chemical pipelines, industrial parks, military bases, sewage treatment systems, fracking, wind turbines, desalination plants, landfill sites, incinerators, power plants, quarries, prisons, pubs, adult entertainment clubs, concert venues, firearms dealers, mobile phone masts, electricity pylons, abortion clinics, children’s homes, nursing homes, youth hostels, sports stadiums, shopping malls, retail parks, discount stores, public schools, railways, hospitals, highway expansions, airports, seaports, grocery stores, nuclear waste repositories, storage for weapons of mass destruction, cannabis dispensaries, recreational cannabis shops, methadone clinics, and the accommodation of persons applying for asylum, refugees, and displaced persons.
The NIMBY concept may also be applied to people who advocate some proposal (e.g., budget cuts, tax increases, layoffs, immigration or energy conservation) but oppose implementing it in a way that might affect their lives or require any sacrifice on their part.
Developments likely to attract local objections include:
- Infrastructure development, such as new roads and motorway service areas, light rail and metro lines, bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, airports, power plants, retail developments, sales of public assets, electrical transmission lines, wastewater treatment plants, landfills, sewage outfalls and prisons;
- The extraction of mineral resources including ore, aggregates and hydrocarbons from mines, quarries and oil wells or gas wells, respectively;
- Renewable energy generators, such as wind farms and solar panels;
- Businesses trading in goods perceived as immoral, such as adult video, liquor stores, and medical cannabis dispensaries;
- Accommodations perceived as primarily benefiting disadvantaged people, such as subsidized housing for the financially disadvantaged, supportive housing for the mentally ill, halfway houses for drug addicts and criminals, and homeless shelters for those with no fixed address;
- Services catering to certain stigmatized groups (for example, injection drug users), such as methadone clinics, syringe exchange programmes, drug detoxification facilities, supervised injection site;
- Large-scale developments of all kinds, such as big-box stores and housing subdivisions.
The claimed reasons against these developments vary, and some are given below.
- Increased traffic: more jobs, more housing or more stores correlates to increased traffic on local streets and greater demand for parking spots. Industrial facilities such as warehouses, factories, or landfills often increase the volume of truck traffic.
- Harm to locally owned small businesses: the development of a big box store may provide too much competition to a locally owned store; similarly, the construction of a new road may make the older road less traveled, leading to a loss of business for property owners. This can lead to excessive relocation costs, or to loss of respected local businesses.
- Loss of residential property value: homes near an undesirable development may be less desirable for potential buyers. The lost revenue from property taxes may, or may not, be offset by increased revenue from the project.
- Environmental pollution of land, air, and water: power plants, factories, chemical facilities, crematoriums, sewage treatment facilities, airports, and similar projects may—or may be claimed to—contaminate the land, air, or water around them. Especially facilities assumed to smell might cause objections.
- Light pollution: projects that operate at night, or that include security lighting (such as street lights in a parking lot), may be accused of causing light pollution.
- Noise pollution: in addition to the noise of traffic, a project may inherently be noisy. This is a common objection to wind power, airports, roads, and many industrial facilities, but also stadiums, festivals, and nightclubs which are particularly noisy at night when locals want to sleep.
- Visual blight and failure to “blend in” with the surrounding architecture: the proposed project might be ugly or particularly large, or cast a shadow over an area due to its height.
- Loss of a community’s small-town feel: proposals that might result in new people moving into the community, such as a plan to build many new houses, are often claimed to change the community’s character.
- Strain of public resources and schools: this reason is given for any increase in the local area’s population, as additional school facilities might be needed for the additional children, but particularly to projects that might result in certain kinds of people joining the community, such as a group home for people with disabilities, or immigrants.
- Disproportionate benefit to non-locals: the project appears to benefit distant people, such as investors (in the case of commercial projects like factories or big-box stores) or people from neighboring areas (in the case of regional government projects, such as airports, highways, sewage treatment, or landfills).
- Increases in crime: this is usually applied to projects that are perceived as attracting or employing low-skill workers or racial minorities, as well as projects that cater to people who are thought to often commit crimes, such as the mentally ill, the poor, and drug addicts. Additionally, certain types of projects, such as pubs or medical marijuana dispensaries, might be perceived as directly increasing the amount of crime in the area.
- Risk of an (environmental) disaster, such as with drilling operations, chemical industry, dams, or nuclear power plants.
- Historic areas: the affected area is on a heritage register, because of its many older properties that are being preserved as such.
Generally, many NIMBY objections are guessed or feared, because objections are more likely to be successful before construction starts. It is often too late to object to the project after its completion, since new additions are unlikely to be reversed.
As hinted by the list, protests can occur for opposite reasons. A new road or shopping center can cause increased traffic and work opportunities for some, and decreased traffic for others, harming local businesses.
People in an area affected by plans sometimes form an organization which can collect money and organize the objection activities. NIMBYists can hire a lawyer to file formal appeals, and contact media to gain public support for their case.
Not in my neighborhood
The term Not in my neighborhood, or NIMN, is also frequently used. “NIMN” additionally refers to legislative actions or private agreements made with the sole purpose of maintaining racial identity within a particular neighborhood or residential area by forcefully keeping members of other races from moving into the area. In that regard, “Not in My Neighborhood,” by author and journalist Antero Pietila, describes the toll NIMN politics had on housing conditions in Baltimore throughout the 20th century and the systemic, racially based citywide separation it caused.
Read more here: NIMBY – Wikipedia