NIMBY! A Cry From The Heart That Things Are “Just Not The American Way”

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NIMBY: Not in My Back Yard. Part of an ongoing collection of articles exploring some of the many ways that a worldwide affordable housing crisis is opposed.

“It’s been more than a year since we reported a new and intriguing defence with which NIMBY-ites weaponize their community battlements. We thought there were no big guns left that could keep the unwashed out of local neighbourhoods.”

The above started a post we published in February 2022, and we’re pleased to announce we’ve discovered yet another horror plaguing neighbourhood back yards. The last reported horror was ‘mountain lions’ and seemed to assume that the presence of public housing tenants in a neighbourhood would inspire a big cat invasion followed by a feeding frenzy1.

We’ve had to expand our eligibility criteria a little to force fit a new NIMBY story. Hitherto, we’ve been thinking of NIMBY as a way of preventing neighbourhood development of new public housing. Or temporary housing in support of otherwise homeless people. To this we’re adding fear and loathing of ‘missing middle’ housing.

But wait! Isn’t ‘missing middle housing’ occupied by the salt of the earth — the American middle classes? Indeed. In some locations, such as Arlington, Virginia, active NIMBYites are turning up their noses at sharing their neighbourhood with the jumped-up hoi poloi with middle incomes.

And if that’s the case, imagine how much further the local noses will elevate when faced with threats of invading public housing (poorest of the poor), or temporary housing for people who are homeless! So we feel that the following story fits our mandate.

What is this new human catastrophe that is unwanted in the finest neighbourhoods and supported by the housing industry with its approved battle cry of ‘YIMBY’? It is not so hateful for what it is (like extra street traffic, or perverts hanging around school yards) but for what it is not.

‘It Is Not The Arlington Way!’ — an extremely vague concept but proving an effective battle cry in the NIMBY wars. It is, of course, specialized by neighbourhood and should be expressed by “It Is Not The ENTER THE NAME OF YOUR COMMUNITY Way!”

Just how does this battle cry manifest itself? Read considerably more about its use and abuse in Arlington, Virginia, where it has been successfully deployed as, at the very least, a delaying tactic, at SLATE: The NIMBYs in My Backyard


  1. Try: The Many Colours of NIMBY: Kitties On Steroids