Not In My Backyard Attitude Interferes with Resolutions

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Not In My Backyard Attitude Interferes with Resolutions

Not In My Backyard (NIMBY) conflicts have many characteristics that make successful resolutions difficult to achieve. A typical NIMBY conflict, such as a proposal for a landfill site in a vacant lot behind a low-income housing district, often carries with it controversial problems of environmental justice, distributional equity, and procedural justice. The public affected by the Locally Unwanted Land Use (LULU) raises questions such as ãwhy me?ä and ãyou're targeting me just because I'm a minority.ä Some people find out they are affected by a LULU after it is approved, and claim that they had no notification about the proposed project.

Another type of problem with land use conflict centers on the local groups opposed to the project. These people, or NIMBYs, are generally underfunded, highly stressed, inexperienced in negotiation, and lacking political power. They want to participate meaningfully in the decision-making process about their LULU, but many find it difficult to obtain anything but an adversarial position in the process. Power, status, and wealth are the key attributes to gaining attention and consideration from the broader community. Unfortunately, most public NIMBYs are minorities, live in rural areas, live in the South, or have middle- to lower-class incomes (Morris, 1994). In their defense, though, NIMBYs can make harmful land uses difficult to site by creating gridlock on current standard operating procedures.

NIMBY groups may break apart in the middle of the negotiating process, often due to internal power struggles. When this happens, the group tends to lose essential credibility, funding, and support from the greater public, which can become co...

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...tor, 1992). Perhaps the LULU risk that the public is hearing from the ãexpertsä is in fact inaccurate. As a future recommendation for NIMBY conflicts, both the public and technical community views should be treated as problematic. Also, there should not be such a stereotypical view of leaders of activist groups as being irrational, over-emotional, or ill informed. Finally, NIMBY activists should see themselves as part of the situation that the project will address, instead of focusing on just the narrow issue of opposing the project. They must see the larger picture and be willing to offer and maybe help implement alternatives to the project.


Freudenburg, W. R. & Pastor, S.K. 1992. NIMBYs and LULUs: Stalking the Syndromes. Journal of Social Issues, 48: 39-61.

Morris, J.A. 1994. Not In My Backyard ö The Handbook. San Diego: Silvercat Publications.

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