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Bill Hocker | Jun 18, 2018

Pat Clay LTE regarding Napa Oaks II 6/18/18: Napa Oaks offers many benefits

As is the case in many of the community battles with developers over the last 4 years, Pat Clay invokes "NIMBY" in the editorial. Whenever community members, in their self-interest, attempt to protect the quality of their lives in the face of development projects in their neighborhoods (and often in Napa County they are developments that want to exploit that quality of life for profit) they are labeled as NIMBY's. There seems to be no similar pejorative for the developers that, in their own self-interest, wish to profit from the diminishment in their quality of life - beyond the word "developer". Unfortunately, in America, the self-interest of money trumps the self-interest in quality of life.

Finally I had to look up the etymology. The first printed use of "NIMBY" was made in a 1980 in a lengthly article on hazardous waste disposal sites and the EPA's first regulation of hazardous wastes. (When the EPA was in the business of protecting the environment rather than un-protecting it).

The author's quote:
"People are now thoroughly alert to the dangers of hazardous chemical wastes.The very thought of having even a secure landfill anywhere near them is anathema to most Americans today. It's an attitude referred to in the trade as NIMBY -- "not in my backyard."

"The trade" was a reference to the waste disposal industry but might also be seen as any development industry. "NIMBY" is, as I have always assumed, a term invented by developers to pejoratively label those trying to preserve the quality of their lives in the face of a less desirable future. There is no similar pejorative for those wishing to make money by diminishing that quality. Other than "developer".

The intent of a pejorative label, raised to an art form by our current developer president, is to ridicule the target and divide them from the support of their otherwise similar peers. Who wants to be associated with someone who is "crooked" or "crazy". It is the prime weapon of every 10 year old schoolyard bully.

While the term "NIMBY" is usually invoked by developers against those impacted by the project to discount their opposition, it is also used by the non-impacted residents who support, in principle, the concept of “property rights” or else of urban development as a sign of prosperity from which they may benefit. That is until a proposed project threatens their quality of life.

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