Know Your NIMBYs

Part of my Bold Moments series of articles. This was the last article I did for The Bold Italic. Shortly after I moved, they did a full copy of this without telling me, which might have been okay if it hadn’t been completely unfunny. I was quite happy with my article as it really marked my apex of both “getting” San Francisco as well as just being beyond done with living in it.

If nothing else, San Francisco is a “voicey” city. By that I mean we’re one of the few places in the country where everyone, really EVERYONE, makes sure that their voice is heard. Sometimes this is good. Sometimes it’s not so good. For anyone who’s watched the public hearings at City Hall, you know that it’s usually entertaining. But, it’s amazingly the case with our city politics, which are better described as performance art, that there seems to continually be the same cast of characters.

The following is a handy guide to the most common NIMBYs– those among us who take issue with the ever-blowing winds of change. If you don’t find yourself to be at least a little or a lot of one or more, then maybe you haven’t lived in San Francisco long enough.

The Beautificationist

If it ain’t pretty, it ain’t getting’ installed. These NIMBYs ascribe to the pastoral idyll within the confines of a compact, urban setting. Ironically, their concept of beauty can be hard to understand as they might very well want all the trees in downtown ripped out and graffiti painted over, but then fight the installation of boxes to increase internet speed unless they have public art/sock puppets made by at-risk youth on them.
NIMBYosity Index: 4
Habitats: City Hall, Museums, Trailheads

The Childrenist

If you’re not “thinking of the children”, then just don’t think at all. If there isn’t a child component to new San Francisco events or place, they will stop it from moving forward like a Lego under your bare foot. It should be noted that their anti-nudity campaigns are generally welcomed to those preferring not to see “saggy bags” around the Castro.
NIMBYosity Index: 5
Habitats: Schools, Shit with Slides, Michelin-listed Restaurants, Au Pair Conventions

The Property Valueist

Similar to the Childrenist, but this NIMBY is solely concerned about stopping anything that might impede the rise of their property value. That could range from a methadone clinic opening up next door to a children’s slide being installed across the street. They often serve at the whims of, or are commanded by the dictator for life known as the President of the Republic of HoA. Property Valueist will happily join up with The Pro-Loinist who is totally thrilled to locate anything the least bit “objectionable” in the Tenderloin.
NIMBYosity Index: 8
Habitats: Neighborhoods on Hills

Aunt Anti

If anything is to happen, she is against it. One wonders why she doesn’t petition for the weather to stop changing and make up its mind. While sometimes pairing up with other NIMBYs such as the Petitionistas, she often finds herself fighting them the next day. She can sometimes take on the guise of The Conversinator, taking control of any neighborhood group discussion that might lead to a solution because really, the only solution is to do nothing.
NIMBYosity Index: 10
Habitats: Neighborhood Associations, City Hall Public Hearings, Streets with Young Whippersnappers

City Hall Dweller

This NIMBY has much in common with Aunt Anti, but instead of spending all his time at neighborhood meetings, he spends it at civic agencies and City Hall, poring over filings and looking for anything that might be amiss or not to his general liking which can be stopped dead in its tracks… or at the very least, drawn out in a lengthy filing battle for months/years. He can’t do his job alone and will often join the Petitionista and the Civic Nutjob to reach his aims.
NIMBYosity Index: 10
Habitats: City Hall Public Hearings, Fighting Public Benches, Fire Escape monitoring


He/she will spell “car” as a four letter word. Anything with four wheels is damnable unless it’s two bicycles riding side by side. New freeway? Forget it. More taxis? No way. Often joining forces with the Super Cycler and Freeway Fighter, the Transportationazi solely believes in only pedal, pedestrian, or public transportation.
NIMBYosity Index: 5
Habitats: Bike Lanes, Sidewalks, Laughing at Traffic Jams, Screaming at Taxis, Critical Mass

One Nation Under Car

Typically in heated battles with the Transportationazi, this NIMBY opposes anything that might impede the flow of traffic, specifically, his or her car-centric traffic. When not hooking up with the Parking Slut (or anyone else within earshot) to bemoan places to park, you’ll often find this NIMBY on the horn, yelling at taxis and buses who slow them down, or dreaming about running over Critical Mass participants.
NIMBYosity Index: 7
Habitats: Highways, Byways, “Super Secret” Shortcuts, and Anything with Pavement

Captain Greenaway

This potent NIMBY opposes anything that isn’t green. That may be as simple as a lack of compost bins and/or organic food for her children at school or the more complex issue of impinging on 420 rights. They can often been found joining forces with the Transportationazi to do things such as not allow a highway to go through residential areas and instead be routed down Van Ness Avenue. They will also change shade slightly and take on the light of Vegan Avenger and/or Community Gardenist to make sure that nature wins above all else.
NIMBYosity Index: 5
Habitats: Green Spaces, Doggie Parks, Medicinal Marijuana Clubs, Drumming/Hacky Sack Circles

The Inclusionist

He/she puts their foot down if any event, parade, or city planning isn’t designed to officially and boldly include every race, color, creed, gender, sexual preference, mobility, and detergent choice. While obviously any discrimination in public events is completely illegal, this doesn’t stop the full-frontal assault of this NIMBY’s desire to whip around our rainbow of diversity like it was a demonstration booth at Folsom Street Fair. This NIMBY likes to join forces with the ADArsonist, Gay Power Brigade, and the E-racer.
NIMBYosity Index: 6
Habitats: Stages, Parades, City Hall Chambers, Public/Private Bathrooms