Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Alphabet of Opposition – NIMBYs, LULUs and NOPEs Oh My!

While reviewing Matthew J. Kiefer’s assessment of NIMBYism, I had to ask myself a David Byrne inspired question, “How did we get here?” With a list of acronyms that carries on to infinity, one may need a lexicon to wade through land use planning decisions. The interesting concept is how people move so often, upgrade and remodel the insides of their homes but then adamantly oppose any change within their community or surroundings. Kiefer mentions that the average America moves twelve times in their lives. Residents fail to accept that change will occur. All the dwelling we reside in were built at some point, changing the initial landscape. So then, when a group opposes change, demanding that it stays the same – define the same. Maintaining the urban fabric of what time period? Are we seeking pre-war era, the City Beautiful Movement, agrarian based villages? Or are we simply chasing our tails in the hopes that we do not have to let go of the things we cherish most about where we live? Is the same, defined as the horizon of the setting sun, an imaginary line continuously moving? Civic engagement has a point, to protect residential areas from imposing industrial degradation, to provide environmental justice and so on. But at some point, a meeting of the minds must occur, and communities must learn that compromise is not a four letter word.