Honesty and compromise remain admirable values and effective political tools — especially on the local level where policymakers, community members, and activists are literally rubbing elbows with each other. >>read more
If NIMBYs are, proverbially, planners' worst enemies, then planners are sometimes their own second-worst enemies.
Monday morning I attended one of a dozen or so workshops and listening sessions, this one in Los Angeles, put on by the Governor's Office of Planning and Research to publicize and solicit input into the new draft General Plan Guidelines. It's a momentous occasion for planners in California. Legislative, demographic, and cultural forces have forged a different world in the 12 years since OPR last updated the guidelines.
Cities that update their general plans, usually to the tune of hundreds of pages, need all the help they can get. That's why it's so important for OPR to clearly explain what it has in mind and to hear what planners and citizens need to make the magic happen.
Some citizens, though, see nothing magical about, well, anything that planners do. >>read more
Last week Harvard history professor Naomi Oreskes defended the public figure that many planners love to hate: the NIMBY. In a column in the Washington Post entitled, "Stop hating on NIMBYs. They're saving communities," she argues that "NIMBY" does not deserve the pejorative connotation that many in the planning community naturally ascribe to it. She focuses on an example from New Hampshire, where communities have raised opposition to a high-voltage transmission wire from a hydroelectric plant in Quebec.
Who would be against power lines, she wonders? Anyone who values, "quiet, safety, security, and peace of mind." The beauty of the New Hampshire landscape, and all the therapeutic benefits that come from it, justifies opposition to the power lines. Her argument is as convincing as it is obvious.
Even so, Oreskes writes that opponents have been "dismissed" by the project's supporters. The puzzling thing about her argument is that she writes that "communities and individuals [including, presumably, herself] who oppose fracking, nuclear power, high voltage power lines, and diverse other forms of development have all been accused of NIMBYism." Accused by whom? I know of few Americans who would welcome a nuclear power plant anywhere near their backyards, and for good reason.