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Bill Hocker | Apr 8, 2022

Update 4/7/22
As I have mentioned elsewhere, the term "NIMBY" is a weaponized slur used by developers to sell the canard that defending one's community and environment against development is less socially worthy than their desire to consume it for profit. In a recent letter protesting the proposed Napa City General Plan update designation of the Ghisetta Ranch for housing and commercial uses, a member of the community organization Keep Napa Gateways Green gave a more nuanced reading of the importance of Nimbyism in the dialog about land use. It is worth repeating.

    I have heard repeatedly the term NIMBY tossed about in various formats with regard to our group's opposition to the current and proposed Land Use Plan for the SW area of Napa; specifically, the properties known as Horseman’s Association and Ghisletta. The term NIMBY, "not in my back yard", has long been used to criticize people who oppose intensified and sprawling development in their communities. Invariably it is used pejoratively and depicts its residents as those who care only for their properties, as hypocrites who want the benefits of a diverse, thriving community without wanting to share their space with others. This couldn't be further from the truth.

    There is nothing wrong with standing up for our own communities and standing with our fellow citizens who want to preserve their quality of life. Not everything about development and growth is worth embracing. We have the right to protect and defend the things we care about. As a matter of fact, it is defeatist not to. This is part of the political process and we proudly stand together to defend this beautiful area of Napa and all areas of Napa that deserve that protection and defense. Of course we are aware of undesirable development in our back yard, just as every neighborhood group is more keenly aware of problems because we are the eyes and ears of this part of Napa. We know this area, we live in this area and we treasure the Horseman's and Ghisletta properties and want to protect them. There is no room for condescension when people are working together to be part of something as important as this is.

    Most so-called NIMBY arguments are actually more about the community as a whole, rather than one singular neighborhood. They are about preserving beauty, and promoting safety and the integrity of communities.

    They are about solving problems (like climate change) without creating serious new ones (such as traffic congestion, pollution, wildfire dangers and costly infrastructure costs to struggling cities) . They are about finding solutions that enrich our lives, support our health, and increase our prosperity.

    Victoria Lancaster"

Original post 6/18/18
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.

Finally I had to look up the etymology. The first printed use of "NIMBY" was made, it seems, in quoting Joe Lieberman in 1979 regarding the opposition to nuclear waste disposal sites holding up development of nuclear power. (This was said one month before the Three Mile Island meltdown.)

In 1980 another author noted is use more broadly in opposition to waste disposal sites:
"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 [now past] 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 commonly invoked by 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 project is proposed in their back yard.

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