Is NIMBY a Bad Word?

posted by Patrick Slevin

The word NIMBY is part of the American lexicon, but it’s a derogatory “N-word” expressed freely by corporations, media, officials, and consultants (to include myself).  The word NIMBY reflects an “us v. them” paradigm that often alienates the community-at-large: The same community that grants the license to operate. This paradigm directly increases risk  and costs, elevates community angst, and leads to political rejection of even the most sustainable real estate projects. We can do more to change the lexicon and the paradigm.  

The NIMBY phenomenon is widely known, but vaguely understood.   Over the next several months, I will be providing comments, articles, announcements, and interviews with key thought leaders. The topic will be on social sustainability and how it expands the reach and impact of corporate social responsibility in the real estate industry. 

How does social sustainability change the NIMBY paradigm?  Stay tuned. 

Here is an excerpt of a recent story published by The Atlantic, Is NIMBY a Bad Word?, which touches upon the fallout of NIMBY attitudes.

Is NIMBY a Bad Word? McArdle), On Friday August 19, 2011, 1:16 pm EDT

I’m a little bit late to the party, but a couple of weeks ago, local real estate journalist Lydia DePillis stirred up a firestorm when she called people in Anacostia who were opposing a homeless shelter “NIMBYs”.  People pointed out that Anacostia has historically been a dumping ground for social services, and they just wanted to keep local commercial spaces that might actually house businesses for, y’know, businesses.  Her response: you’re NIMBYs.  Own it.

NIMBY: Not In My Back Yard. As in, ‘I don’t object to this [homeless shelter/windmill/trash transfer station/Walmart/meth clinic] in principle, but I’d rather not have to deal with it in my neighborhood.’ That definition holds true even for the people who would add, ‘because my neighborhood is already a dumping ground for that kind of crap’ or ‘it’s just not the right place for that kind of thing.’

Wikipedia says that the word is typically used pejoratively. I’d counter that it’s only seen as a pejorative term because not wanting to have to deal with negative things, even if you’re fine with putting them in some other community, is generally regarded as selfish. The other side of selfishness, though, is simply the desire to improve your community, which I don’t doubt is the motivation behind those who are opposing a women’s shelter in Anacostia. Therefore, to me, community activism and NIMBYism aren’t mutually exclusive.

For the full story go to The Atlantic, Is NIMBY a Bad Word?.

U2’s Edge Still Hasn’t Found What He was Looking for in Malibu.

posted by Patrick Slevin

Rock star and U2 great Edge fails to win community and government support for his proposed residential project in Malibu.  Like a Bullet in a Blue Sky, the proposed mansions would disrupt God’s Country, as argued by local neighbors.  Will Edge Surrender and leave the undeveloped area alone Where the Streets Have No Name?  Not at all. Edge has the Desire to litigate and will move forward With or Without You

I Will Follow this story with PrideAnd remember, If You Haven’t Found What You Are Looking For on NIMBY, this blog is the One.   I hope everyone has a Beautiful Day.

California Rejects U2 Rockers Malibu Mansions Plan

“Gettin’ Piggy Wit’ It”: Will Smith’s 53′ Movie Trailer Draws NIMBY Anger from NewYorkers

posted by Patrick Slevin

Even the star of Men In Black III, on location in the Big Apple, cannot enjoy an ET type reception.  In this case, however, Smith’s $2 million, double decker movie trailer is just out of this world.  Both neighbors and local businesses are feeling the impact.  See for yourself the NY Post caption, Gettin’ Piggy Wit’ It, the trailer that has caused NIMBY push back: Will’s Movie-Set Trailer Trashed By Neighbors.

We Are All NIMBYs

posted by Patrick Slevin

Who would have guessed that putting a solar farm on top of an old landfill would spark NIMBY conflict, but that’s what neighbors in a college town in Mass are opposing.  This Amherst Bulletin, We Are All NIMBYs, column is a well written, calmly presented piece, that accounts for change in communities and pauses enough for self-reflection i.e. “how would I respond to this situation if I lived there?” 

The point to take away from this piece is that atrophy is still change, which typically leads to negative consequences more often than not.  Everyone knows the word and imagery of NIMBY, but very few understand the social/political/economic factors that led to it.

NIMBY America Cues FL Cities Toward Civility Discourse Codes

posted by Patrick Slevin

This Palm Beach Post article titled, Are Not!! Am too!!: Cities Aim for Civility Discourse, reports that Florida League of Cities is pushing a civility code for cities to adopt.  Such a code is thought to mitigate out of hand meetings or what i call, Jerry Springer Episodes at city hall. 

It’ s not civil discourse that’s the problem or the threat to real estate development, but rather, inexperienced, part-time elected officials, who are easily intimindated by vocal activists who have become very adept at viral marketing, social media, grassroots warfare and political gamesmanship. 

When it comes to high-profile, high-stakes, and high-cost real estate development, corporate representatives/consultants place too much responsibility on these part-time elected officials who are very susceptible to these tactics, especially during an election year.  That is why it’s very important to pro-actively cultivate and secure social and political equity for a project before the NIMBY genie leaves the bottle.

Comedian George Carlin on NIMBYism in America. It May Be the 8th Dirty Word.

posted by Patrick Slevin

I was delighted to discover this NIMBY routine on YouTube by stand-up Comedian and “Seven Dirty Words” legend George Carlin.  Be warned it’s George Carlin and full of colorful language and political commentary, but in his own genius, Carlin successfully peels away the NIMBY rhetoric and exposes the hypocrisy of NIMBYism in America – which is the point of posting this clip.

Carlin is controversial, much like the NIMBY issue, but his dark humor and rant reveals how NIMBYism has become so ingrained in the America psyche.  Here’s the link. Enjoy.  GEORGE CARLIN ON NIMBY in AMERCA

BOMA International Posts My NIMBY Presentation Given in Sonoma, CA Last Year

posted by Patrick Slevin

Last year, I was a featured speaker at BOMA Internationals National Advisory Council where I gave a presentation titled, Exorcise the NIMBY Within: Turning Status Quo Into Profits.  I encourage you to review it.  It pulls this local conflict up to a national scale of economic impact.

If you belong to a trade association or having a corporate retreat  and you would like to see my presentation, you can email me at

Last, there are many folks who claim to be an expert in the field of NIMBY opposition, local politics, PR and the behavior/impact of vocal minorities, but many simply default to direct mail, town hall meetings, paid media, and haphazard grassroots outreach.  After reviewing the presentation, you should be in a better position to determine who can help you and your team win community and political support for your RE project.

NY Times Says “NIMBY This” to Opponents of Solar Energy

posted by Patrick Slevin

When NIMBY makes it both in the headline and first sentence of a national paper, you know it’s big news.  NIMBY conflicts reported in individual news reports account for hundreds, if not thousands of clippings every year.  Aggregately, NIMBY is more than just a David vs. Goliath genre playing out at city hall.  It’s a multi-billion, some argue, trillion dollar economic nightmare that threatens bottomline priorities and ROI. 

Here is the NYT story:  NIMBY This: Solar Panels Increase Home Value.  How many stories does this blog need to post before corporate developers, RE investors, and media begin to realize that dealing with a potentially angry public scremaing NIMBY requires more than rolling the dice.

AT&T Broadband Upgrades Face NIMBY in San Francisco

posted by Patrick Slevin

Ready for another NIMBY battle? Let’s go! This time, it’s over broadband. San Francisco’s obstinacy over the AT&T Lightspeed Network Upgrade has put it dead last nationwide in major cities having access to the company’s U-Verse package of telephone, HDTV and high-speed internet products.

Check out Curbed blog for the full story AT&T: You Want to Put Your Box Where?

NYT Story Titled, NIMBY with a French Accent, Shows Global Status of NIMBYism

posted by Patrick Slevin

NIMBYism is a local conflict that has global, economic impact.  This latest New York Times: NIMBY with a French Accent is just one more example of how universal and costly NIMBYism is to corporations.  Corporate leaders and shareholders can no longer afford to ignore, overlook and underestimate the fiscal impact vocal minorities around the world are having on bottom line priorities.  

More to come.