Know Your NIMBYs
By that I mean we’re one of the few places in the country where everyone, really everyone, makes sure that their voice is heard. Sometimes this is good. Sometimes it’s not so good. For anyone who’s watched the public hearings at City Hall, you know that it's usually entertaining. Our city politics is similar to performance art, with a rotating cast of characters who show up time and time again.
The following is a handy guide to the most common NIMBYs (Not In My Back Yard-ers), or those among us who take issue with the ever-blowing winds of change. Their NIMBYosity Score indicates how much they suck on a scale of 1-10. Still, if you don’t find yourself to be at least a little, or even a lot like one or more of these folks, then maybe you haven't lived in San Francisco long enough.
If it ain’t pretty, it ain’t getting installed. These NIMBYs ascribe to the pastoral idyll within the confines of a compact, urban setting. Ironically, their concept of beauty can be hard to understand as they might very well want all of the trees downtown ripped out and street art painted over, but then fight the installation of boxes to increase Internet speed – unless they are covered with sock puppets made by at-risk youth.
Habitats: City Hall, Museums, Trailheads
If you’re not “thinking of the children,” then just don’t think at all. If there isn’t a child component to a new San Francisco event or place, they will stop it from moving forward like a Lego under your bare foot. It should be noted that their anti-nudity campaigns are generally welcome to those preferring not to see “saggy bags” around the Castro.
Habitats: Schools, Shit with Slides, Michelin-listed Restaurants, Au Pair Conventions
Similar to The Childrenist, except this NIMBY is solely concerned about stopping anything that might impede the rise of their property value. That could range from a methadone clinic opening up next door to a children’s slide being installed across the street. They often serve at the whims of, or are commanded by the dictator for life known as the President of the Republic of the HoA (Homeowners Association). The Property Valueist will happily join up with The Pro-Loinist who is totally thrilled to locate anything the least bit “objectionable” in the Tenderloin.
Habitats: Neighborhoods on Hills
If anything is going to happen, she is against it. One wonders why she doesn’t petition for the weather to stop changing and make up its mind. While sometimes pairing up with other NIMBYs such as The Petitionistas, she often finds herself fighting them the next day. She can sometimes take on the guise of The Conversinator, taking control of any neighborhood group discussion that might lead to a solution because really, the only solution is to do nothing.
Habitats: Neighborhood Associations, City Hall Public Hearings, Streets with Young Whippersnappers
This NIMBY has much in common with Aunt Anti, but instead of spending all his time at neighborhood meetings, he spends it at civic agencies and City Hall, poring over filings and looking for anything that might be amiss or not to his general liking, something that can be stopped dead in its tracks, or at the very least, drawn out in a lengthy filing battle for months or years. He can’t do his job alone and will often join The Petitionista and The Civic Nutjob to reach his aims.
Habitats: City Hall Public Hearings, Fighting Public Benches, Fire Escape monitoring
He/she spells “car” as a four-letter word. Anything with four wheels is damnable unless it’s two bicycles riding side by side. New freeway? Forget it. More taxis? No way. Often joining forces with The Super Cycler and The Freeway Fighter, The Transportationazi solely believes in only pedal, pedestrian, or public transportation.
Habitats: Bike Lanes, Sidewalks, Laughing at Traffic Jams, Screaming at Taxis, Critical Mass
Typically in heated battles with the Transportationazi, this NIMBY opposes anything that might impede the flow of traffic, specifically, his or her car-centric traffic. When not hooking up with The Parking Slut (or anyone else within earshot) to bemoan places to park, you’ll often find this NIMBY on the horn, yelling at taxis and buses who slow them down, or dreaming about running over Critical Mass participants.
Habitats: Highways, Byways, “Super Secret” Shortcuts, and Anything with Pavement
This potent NIMBY opposes anything that isn’t green. That may be as simple as a lack of compost bins and/or organic food for her children at school, or the more complex issue of impinging on 420 rights. They can often be found joining forces with The Transportationazi to do things such as not allow a highway to go through residential areas and instead be routed down Van Ness Avenue. They will also change shade slightly and take on the light of The Vegan Avenger and/or The Community Gardenist to make sure that nature wins above all else.
Habitats: Green Spaces, Doggie Parks, Medicinal Marijuana Clubs, Drumming/Hacky Sack Circles
He/she puts their foot down if any event, parade, or city planning isn’t designed to officially and boldly include every race, color, creed, gender, sexual preference, mobility, and detergent choice. While any discrimination in public events is obviously and completely illegal, this doesn’t stop the full-frontal assault of this NIMBY’s desire to whip around our rainbow of diversity like it was a demonstration booth at Folsom Street Fair. This NIMBY likes to join forces with The AD Arsonist, The Gay Power Brigade, and The E-racer.
Habitats: Stages, Parades, City Hall Chambers, Public and Private Bathrooms
Feel like your NIMBYness isn't quite what it should be? You can always top it off a little by attending City Hall sessions, dropping in or starting a neighborhood association meeting, or just reading up on whatever people stick on lampposts around your neighborhood. It's almost too easy.