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A History of NIMBY'ism and Its Excesses

On the one hand, that people should have a say in the composition and development of the neighborhoods in which they live or own businesses makes all the sense in the world. But in giving small groups of individuals the power to deploy- quite often successfully- a "not in my back yard" rationale against county, city and state governments' efforts to solve problems, an ever-growing list of problems remains unaddressed. This dispatch from Salon's 'dream city' column provides the history of how urban planning missteps gave small groups of people the power to stymie development, and then traces how that power in the hands of individuals (in the author's opinion) became too great. The piece also delves into the psychological underpinnings of NIMBY'ism, and lands on the classic and politically-fertile tactic of the use of fear. Some measure of the Atlanta metro area's haphazard planning can be attributed to this phenomenon (why isn't MARTA in Cobb County again?); as the T-SPLOST debate hurdles toward judgment day, this piece provides some useful perspective. [Salon dream city]