The Many Colors Of NIMBY: The Neighbourhood Character

NIMBY: Not in My Back Yard. Part of an ongoing collection of articles exploring some of the many ways that opposition to affordable housing is expressed.

Neighbourhood character is not that bearded gent who shouts ‘yo!’ in your ear as you walk by and causes you to flinch. The neighbourhood character is that stew of historic cobblestone, bats at sunset, romantic stories of the good old days (at least three months old), as well as labyrinthine local parking restrictions that discourage tourists. These are not compulsory to any particular neighbourhood character, but examples of unfathomable nostalgic visions so precious to one or more arbiters of neighbourhood character: to wit, the neighbors.

For example, with NIMBYites asleep at the switch, Toronto became heir to a giant crystal growing out of the Royal Ontario Museum (see photo above). Having passed the 3-month neighbourhood character rule, this has become a cherished artifact of Toronto’s downtown neighbourhood character. Should a proposal be tabled to further modify the building, no doubt ‘neighbourhood character’ would be invoked to wisely prevent such inappropriate modifications to the building.

Neighbourhood character is the ultimate trump card in the NIMBY palette of obstructive colours. It requires nothing more than the heartfelt longing by a few neighbourhood activists. While NIMBY is alive and well across North America, here we focus on San Francisco, where the paucity of affordable housing making it next to impossible to find housing.

San Francisco creates 8 new jobs for every new dwelling that is built. A one bedroom apartment, if you can find it, will probably cost you $3400 a month. But try to propose a mix of benefit and character which will convince those nostalgic neighbours that your affordable housing project should be visible from their street.

For more on NIMBY and the affordable housing crisis in San Francisco, read this article in reason: NIMBYism in San Francisco Reaches New Heights With Shorter Buildings



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