The following editorial was originally posted in Kirkland Views on June 13, 2012. Given the recent debates about Potala and Marijuana, I thought it apropos to repost. Please share your thoughts.
Every few months it seems the label "NIMBY" is branded upon some Kirkland citizen who dares to speak out against a proposed development, transit project, traffic calming device installation, tax or fee increase, tree ordinance, or shoreline regulation. "NIMBY" in Kirkland is being used as a pejorative which is bandied about every time someone speaks out to protect their quality of life. By using the label NIMBY, the conversation ends. The implication is that the person labeled thus has nothing of value to add since they are a NIMBY, and therefore their only concern is their own self interests. To oppose the NIMBY's view is to support the greater good of the community. But is this true?
I am not a fan of labels like NIMBY simply because we are all NIMBYs at heart. Some of us just haven't realized it yet.
And it is far easier to label someone with a name than to actually address their concerns in a rational discussion which may lead to common ground.
To be sure, there are some folks out there that oppose most everything. But everyone who expresses concern about their diminishing quality of life is not to be scorned.
The reality is that most everyone would complain loudly if they learned of a plan to build a prison next door to their house. They would, and should, fight hard to prevent it from being built because every other community in the region would be doing the same thing: looking after their own interests. That is how the world works. Those who don't speak out don't get heard when decisions are made. It is human nature to protect what one has and to prevent that which would have a negative impact on one's life.
So, the next time someone speaks out against a prison or incinerator in their neighborhood, don't be so quick to label them a NIMBY. Perhaps the next planned project will be in your backyard.
Unfortunately, many of those who most frequently use the term NIMBY do so anonymously. I prefer the use of such labels to be accompanied by a signature.
While I criticize the use of the term NIMBY, that does not mean I side with the anti-development crowd. I am very much pro-development with common sense. Kirkland needs the vitality, growth and tax base of good development to support our city services. My belief is that often those who have the potential to oppose developments have much to offer in terms of improving the initial plans. By working with the developer in a cooperative manner, everyone can win. Unfortunately, there seems to be little interest in finding common ground these days. Case in point: Potala Village. After the dust settles on Potala, there will be few winners and many losers.
Beware those proclaiming to champion society's best interests or those looking after "the greater good" of the community. More often than not, they are just protecting their own self interests too. All too often, the cost of their success is the loss of someone else's property rights.
We are all NIMBYs at heart. Some of us just haven't realized it yet.