Tuesday, August 24, 2010


In the land use community the NIMBY concept--"not in my back yard"--is a nearly omnipresent factor in development issues, comprehensive planning, regionalism, and other law and policy issues.  I'd even say that NIMBY might be the land-use concept that has been the most widely established in popular culture. For a twist on the concept, Foreign Policy magazine has an article by Sylvie Stein called The YIMBYs: Five places saying "yes, in my backyard" to the nasty stuff that no one else wants.  

The FP article is about national policies (rather than local land use decisions) to engage in economic activities that are unpopular elsewhere, such as opium growing (Tasmania), nuclear waste (Russia), offshore drilling (Mexico), trash (Ghana), and prisons (Netherlands).  But I thought it would still be interesting for us to contemplate the concept of the YIMBY.  And it wouldn't be too surprising, especially in a down economy, if the YIMBY factor started to emerge in local politics.  It could be strictly for economics/jobs/tax base, or perhaps even as a sort of upside-down Tiebout model where localities compete for the economic benefits of activities traditionally shunned by NIMBYs and residents follow.  Have any of you seen something that could be described as a local YIMBY?

Matt Festa


Comparative Land Use, Economic Development, Local Government, NIMBY, Planning | Permalink

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Matt -

Here's one on Long Island, around affordable housing.


And one about a prison near a town in Texas


I feel like I also once read about a town in Pennsylvania that recruited all kinds of toxic businesses, but I can't readily find it.

Posted by: Jamie Baker Roskie | Aug 24, 2010 12:27:31 PM

Tooele County, Utah established a 100 square-mile West Desert Hazardous Industry Area to allow hazardous and radioactive waste disposal, and to bar all residential uses. A number of such facilities have located there, they pay a lot of taxes, and here are no neighbors to complain. A number of other communities have volunteered for (and in some cases actively sought) these kinds of facilities; portions of Manitoba, Canada are an example. I described this phenomenon years ago in a book called WHOSE BACKYARD, WHOSE RISK: FEAR AND FAIRNESS IN TOXIC AND NUCLEAR WASTE SITING (MIT 1994).

Michael Gerrard
Columbia Law School

Posted by: Michael Gerrard | Aug 25, 2010 5:54:37 AM

Thanks Jamie & Michael! I should have thought of Texas prison town (having a prison is not seen as a bad thing, or, in 2d Amendment culture, much of a threat!), and I did think of hazardous waste sites in the west, but I couldn't think of specific examples. The Yucca Mountain issue cuts the other way right?--feds want it, but state doesn't? (I don't know the local position). But it's obviously a big potential YIMBY in a situation where local governments can decide what mix of risks and rewards are best for them.

Posted by: Matt Festa | Sep 2, 2010 9:32:40 PM