NIMBYism Across the Pond

posted by Patrick Slevin

Great Britain is no stranger to the fallout of NIMBY opposition. In fact, the term NIMBY originated in England.  Check out this conflict over housing in East Midlands, Localism Bill Is NIMBYs Charter.

New York Times: NIMBY Rears Its Head Against Wind Power Project

posted by Patrick Slevin

This New York Times story reaffirms my assertion that we have transitioned from a NIMBY nation to a BANANA Republic (Build-Absolutely-Nothing-Anywhere-Near-Anyone).  The New York Times did a report covering a San Francisco suburb attacking a neighbor’s efforts to install a windmill to be more energy efficient.  It’s not always homeowners vs. corporations, but also homeowners striking a NIMBY hammer against a fellow neighbor.  Here is the story: NIMBY Rears Its Head Against Wind Mill Project.

This story demonstrates two key points:  1. Americans will resist and oppose any perceived threat to their quality of lives. Even an 30 foot windmill will cause neighbors to mobilize.  2.  We all have the potential to lead or participate in NIMBY opposition ourselves. 

If neighbors are willing to eat their own young over a windmill, as in the case in San Francisco, then what makes corporate executives believe they will be treated any different, simply because they are offering an economically sustainable project that creates jobs? 

We may be still in the grips of the Great Recession, but the NIMBY syndrome has only grown and will have a drag on the real estate market as it begins to rebound in 2011.

Interview with National Real Estate Bisnow on Florida’s Amendment 4, NIMBYism and Public Relations

posted by Patrick Slevin

National Real Estate Bisnow, is a nationwide e-magazine with over 200,000 subscribers.  Check out my recent interview here:  Q&A w/Hill & Knowlton\’s Patrick Slevin

Amendment 4 Initiative Gets 11th Hour Sugar Daddy

posted by Patrick Slevin

The latest campaign finance documents revealed a new PAC in the Amendment 4 battle in Florida.  Hometown Democracy Fund, opened by internet entrepreneur Christopher Findlater, has just over $2,000,000 in campaign funds.  The report showed a contribution to the Florida Hometown Democracy PAC of $200K late last month. 

The Jacksonville Times-Union has the story here: Cash pours into group supporting Amendment 4

Amendment 4 Seeks to Create a Tyranny of the Minority by Peddling Ballot Box NIMBYism

posted by Patrick Slevin

Amendment 4 is a populist pitch that vocal anti-development groups hope voters will buy on Election Day.   If Amendment 4 successfully meets/exceeds the 60 percent threshold, then fringe groups can juice up the NIMBY steroids at the ballot box.  Today’s Florida Today, Amendment 4 puts land uses to voters, story clearly demonstrates the connection between NIMBY attitudes and the allure of what I call, Ballot Box NIMBYism

Check out the Florida Today story to see how NIMBYism is the justification to vote in support of Amendment 4 and how it attempts to piggyback voter frustration with government.  

In short, Amendment 4 is attempting to resurrect direct democracy, which was popular during the Progressive Era.  Our Founding Fathers were very concerned and debated about how direct democracy would empower factions and fringe interests at the expense of majority rule.  In the Federalist Papers, James Madison warned that direct democracy schemes like Amendment 4 would create a “tyranny of the minority.” 

Amendment 4 is not about empowering citizens and fostering public participation.  It’s about giving vocal minority interests “veto” power at the ballot box.  When you factor in voter apathy, low turnout and the significant increase in down ballot measures, literally, a handful of activists can successfully demonize a sustainable project, single it out on ballot and defeat it with a few hundred votes.  

Rarely do we see direct democracy benefiting the Silent Majority in our communities. The city of St. Pete Beach is a classic case study of how a handful of activists, with an Amendment 4 agenda, can adversely change the direction of an entire community.

 That is why we have elected officials…to safeguard against special interests. It’s not a perfect system, but unlike ballot box NIMBYism, it does attempt to build consensus, mitigate impacts and do what’s best for the community.

Do Polls Accurately Capture Voter Sentiments on Amendment 4?

posted by Patrick Slevin

Amendment 4 needs 60 percent of the vote to be adopted as part of Florida’s constitution.  The recent Zogsby poll Amendment 4 still needs to make up ground to pass shows Amendment 4 supporters need more than 10 points to pass.  However, the poll shows that more than 24 percent of voters are undecided.  Undecided voters will be the primary focus in this battle for the remainder of the cycle.  Pundits in the article are surmising that voters who are not paying attention will likely vote no on amendments, therefore, this measure should fail.

What the polls and pundits are not accounting for is the public’s frustration with government and their anti-incumbant angst. Their mantra of “Let’s take back our government” and ”We the People” are sentiments that pro-Amendment 4 campaign is counting on.   

In my last blog, I posted the the ballot language on Amendment 4.  For those frustrated voters not paying attention to the debate, the language may be enough to change a no vote to a YES. 

Frankly, no one can really predict the outcome, not just on Amendment 4, but this entire election cycle.  However, one thing you can count on…voters are frustrated and motivated to shake up the status quo.  Amendment 4 can only benefit from this X-factor.

Florida’s Amendment 4: Industry Holding Its Breath

posted by Patrick Slevin

Many real estate thought leaders from around the nation are anxious about Amendment 4 passing next month.   Amendment 4 is a proposed constitutional change to let voters decide on development comp plan changes.

A recent Mason-Dixon poll did little to comfort those concerns.  The good news was only 53% of voters would vote in favor of Amendment 4, which in Florida needs 60% voter approval.  The bad news more than 21% of voters remained undecided.  That means more than 2 out of every 3 undecided voters will need to be convinced to vote no on Amendment 4 in the next 4 weeks. 

Amendment 4 proponents are generating favorable and timely publicity continuing the NIMBY genre of David vs. Goliath:

New York Times article: Florida Voters Enter Battle on Growth

The Atlantic Floridas Amendment 4 Would Give Voters Say on Overbuilding

Sarasota Herald-TribuneActivist at the fore in Florida’s growth fight 

St. Petersburg Times columnist, Howard Troxler encouraged his Sunday readers to vote YES on Amendment 4. If you vote for Amendment 4, you\’ll turn purple and get fat .  

To date, the great majority of Florida’s electorate has not paid attention to Amendment 4, which favors Amendment 4, because the ballot language is hard to reject without context.  Here is the ballot language:

TITLE: Referenda required for adoption and amendment of local government comprehensive land use plans.

BALLOT SUMMARY: Establishes that before a local government may adopt a new comprehensive land use plan, or amend a comprehensive land use plan, the proposed plan or amendment shall be subject to vote of the electors of the local government by referendum, following preparation by the local planning agency, consideration by the governing body and notice. Provides definitions.

Absentee ballots have been mailed in most counties and early voting will begin Oct. 18.  Stay tuned for continued commentary on Amendment 4.  If the measure passes, it will throw Florida into a state of political and economic uncertainty, and give birth to a political model that special interests will implement across the nation.  The national publicity the measure has generated is laying the bricks down for continue assault against development in other states.

There’s still a chance to defeat Amendment 4, but time is running out.

BOMA National Advisory Council Conf Underway in Sonoma, CA

posted by Patrick Slevin

The weather is beautiful in Sonoma wine country at the Fairmont.  My speech/presentation begins at 1:30 west coast time.  At the breakfast table this morning many BOMA members asked about the NIMBY presentation and a 20 minute conversation ensued.  It was an enjoyable discussion shared with real estate thoughts leaders representing national/international companies from Washington, DC, Houston, Atlanta, and LA.  Everyone agreed that NIMBYism is a financial threat to the industry and to those corporate developers trying to grow out of this recession.  Words of “change”, “transition”, “new business models”, “reducing risk” and “increasing certainty” echoed throughout the conversation and morning presentations. 

I’m very encouraged on how the morning meetings sets the table for the Exorcise the NIMBY Within.  It will be interesting to see what BOMA members think about the presentation later today when the entire group goes out to dinner this evening.

I appreciate your interest in this topic. Let me share my presentation’s opening statement  which complements the tone and focus of the conference so far…”America Loves Progress, But Americans Hate Change…the NIMBY phenomenon costs corporations/industry billions of dollars every year in lost investment capital, revenue, shareholder values and market share…NIMBYism doesn’t happen 100 percent of the time, but when it does, it has 100 percent impact on the bottom line. 

Be sure to come back to my blog next week for a post speech review.  I will see if a member or two of the BOMA audience would be willing to provide feedback via a Q&A, sharing their thoughts on the speech for this blog. 

Have a great weekend, everyone.

Giving a Speech Before the National Advisory Council of BOMA in Sonoma, California

posted by Patrick Slevin

Happy to be with you in the blogosphere to discuss a widely known, but vaguely understood phenomenon called NIMBY (Not-In-My-Back-Yard).  NIMBY doesn’t happen 100 percent of the time, but it does have 100 percent impact on corporate bottom lines when the NIMBY genie escapes the bottle. Vocal minorities crying NIMBY or BANANA (Build-Absolutely-Nothing-Anywhere-Near-Anyone) account for billions of dollars in aggregate losses every year in lost investment capital, revenue, market share and shareholder values. 

My latest speech before C-Suite members of the Building Owners & Managers Association International (BOMA) this Friday, Sept 24th, is titled Exorcise the NIMBY Within: Turning Status Quo to Sustainable Profits. It’s the first presentation in the nation that offers bottom/up solutions for top/down executive decision makers. 

The speech is an exciting kick off to my new blog and I hope you will join me in a professional journey to better understand NIMBYism, change the “Us vs. Them” paradigm, and help corporations achieve sustainable “triple-bottom-line” growth in the real estate development industry.

I will post my next blog from Sonoma on Friday to give you a flavor of the venue and to explain the core part of the presentation – A.P.P.L.E. a Day Keeps the NIMBY Away. 

In addition to the speech, future blogs will comment on real time news reports and local conflicts that have NIMBY influence such as the Mosque at Ground Zero, Chicago residents rejecting the 2016 Olympics and stories you would be surprised to learn.

See you in Sonoma on Friday!

Hello world!

posted by Patrick Slevin

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