Justifying Nimby

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My presentation on the Spaces of democracy workshop of Helsinki research group on political sociology. How do you justify Not in my backyard-approach to regional development?

Text of Justifying Nimby

  • 1. JUSTIFYING NIMBY Veikko Eranti 15.6.2010
  • 2. Not in my slippery slope
    • Not in my backyard (NIMBY) is a difficult problem to tackle.
    • The term is widely used (in Finland) as a pejorative dismissal
    • Good academic definitions are scarce
    • Some scholars argue, that the term shouldnt be used at all.
    15.6.2010 Justifying nimby
  • 3. Then again
    • Intuitively, the consept holds.
    • It seems clear, that some local conflicts over land use resonate better with larger audience (and the planning officials) than others
    • Some local conflicts over land use are better justified than others.
    15.6.2010 Justifying nimby
  • 4. The Fine People of Haaga
    • Since 1999, every finnish citizens has had a right to comment proposed plans for parts of the city
    • New plan for Haaga, a rather well-to-do area in western Helsinki, in 2007.
      • Flats for 700 new inhabitants.
      • One sport park replaced with another
      • Slightly less green area
    • People of Haaga left all and all 107 comments on the plans
    15.6.2010 Justifying nimby
  • 5. Haaga 15.6.2010 Justifying nimby
  • 6. Haaga 15.6.2010 Justifying nimby
  • 7. From Citizens to Authorities
    • The comments
      • 69 by private person
      • 22 by Housing cooperatives and such
      • Others by NGOs, Shell etc
      • Some were clearly organised, same comment appeared ca. five times
    • Direct communication between a citizen and the planning authority
      • The authority even responds!
    15.6.2010 Justifying nimby
  • 8. Nimby in Haaga
    • Most commentators comletely ok with the plan to build new houses in general
      • Some even extensively mention how they understand the citys rationale in the plan
    • but nobody wants them in Haaga or at least not in their part of Haaga
    • For me, this is the core of nimby. Not against the phenomenom as such, just dont want it in my spesific backyard
    15.6.2010 Justifying nimby
  • 9. Assumptions
    • The citizens oppose new buildings because of their location, not as such
    • New buildings could also be built somewhere else.
    • The citizens will use only arguments they think have persuasive power (Strategic, dear Watson!)
    • The citizens have the capabilities needed in constructing a persuasive argument
    15.6.2010 Justifying nimby
  • 10. Whats in a Comment
    • Its all there
      • We the people of Haaga despise these new buildings
      • The planning provess hasnt been transparent
      • Prices of the flats will go down
      • Less green area = less beautiful places to relax, less birds etc.
      • The tradition of the area demands a more spacious plan
      • This famous professor told that children need more open space between the buildings
    15.6.2010 Justifying nimby
  • 11. Three Different Justifications
    • Nimby as a pure market argument
    • Nimby as a civic argument
    • Nimby as a domestic argument
    15.6.2010 Justifying nimby
  • 12. Nimby as a pure market argument
      • Why should I suffer the negative consequences of this building project just because I live in this particular place? I had no way of knowing that this thing would be built here when I bought/rented my flat. Im going to suffer (economically).
    15.6.2010 Justifying nimby
  • 13. Nimby as a Civic Argument
      • We the inhabitants of this part of the city should have the final say about what gets built and what doesnt. (And we happen to like it the way it is right now.)
    15.6.2010 Justifying nimby
  • 14. Nimby as a domestic argument
        • The area is mighty fine the way it is right now, and it should stay the way it is, because it has been like this for years, even centuries. No changes should be made.
    15.6.2010 Justifying nimby
  • 15. Are these good arguments?
    • It is hard to reason with the market argument
      • Clearly, putting a waste processing plant somewhere and not anywhere else is a bit unfair.
      • Then again, that is the cost of living in cities: waste needs to be processed, poor people have to have access to basic housing (in Finland, the winter is even chillier than the summer)
    • The domestic/traditionalist argument has little persuasive power, but some people seem to respond nicely to it
    15.6.2010 Justifying nimby
  • 16. The Civic Problems
    • We the people of Haaga hereby claim this land
      • The justification is based on the construction of group of people
      • This group, informal by nature, then makes the claim that groups like these should have certain rights
      • The group is, however, constructed, arbitrary, maybe even imaginary
        • It doesnt have a spokesperson or any other legitimate actors in a way many other groups in the civic category do.
        • This group is not a recognized actor nor does it have any legal rights.
          • All of its members have, though.
    15.6.2010 Justifying nimby
  • 17. Continued
    • No reference is made to common good
    • At least the citizens think this is an idea that should resonate within the planning authority
    • Even if we accept the People of Haaga as a legitimate civic group, they still act only based on whats good for themselves.
      • acting as an interest group.
    15.6.2010 Justifying nimby
  • 18. Conclusions, Questions etc.
    • Justifications: based on a shared order of worth
    • Nimby: the negative side of counter-democracy, hiding private gain arguments in the veils of accepted justifications?
    • What do we accept as the legitimate basis for a civic group?
    • Common good vs. private gain
    • Thanks to Risto, Markku, Eeva and Tuomas and all the other thesis-grinders
    15.6.2010 Justifying nimby
  • 19. Me
    • www.slideshare.net/veikkoeranti/justifying-nimby
    • [email_address]
    15.6.2010 Justifying nimby