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'No End in Sight’ to Battle With Growth Opponents

“Not in My Backyard” (NIMBY) proponents are a growing challenge for the nation’s developers “with no end in sight,” according to the latest Saint Index© report from The Saint Consulting Group, a company that provides political campaign expertise on land use issues.

The firm’s latest annual survey data found that 78% of Americans believe that new development should not occur in their hometowns — up five percentage points from the 2006 survey after holding steady for two years.

“The most significant overall finding, however, was that Americans are far more willing to fight than support local development projects,” writes Patrick Fox, president of the company, in the current issue of NAHB’s Land Development magazine.

The survey found that 24% of Americans say that they or a family member have actively opposed development and 30% belong to the most vocal group — individuals aged 56 to 65.

In addition to being in this age group, the most active NIMBYs are home owners, college-educated or post-graduate-educated suburbanites with household incomes over $100,000, the survey shows.

The most surprising thing about those opposing growth, says Fox, “is that they come from all walks of life; they are not the archetypical liberals many would assume.”

Of those people who said they opposed a development project in their community, only 28% indicated that they were more liberal than moderates and conservatives (both at 22%), and they were more or less equally Democrat, Republican or “other.”

Fox says the main reasons Americans give for opposing development are that they want to protect:

  • Community character (31%)
  • The environment (22%)
  • Commutes (21%)
  • Their own real estate values (10%)

However, Fox notes that “by probing to uncover the reasons for opposition through differently phrased questions over the years and examining the response, Saint Consulting has come to the conclusion that the real reason Americans oppose development is self-interest.”

The most-welcomed type of new local development was single-family housing, the latest Saint Index study found, with 83% of those surveyed saying they supported single-family homes in their communities. However, this is also the type of development that Americans most frequently take a stand against.

Fifty-three percent of adults who had actively opposed a real estate development project said they opposed a single-family or multifamily residential project.

“Residents across the nation have united against development in their communities for the sake of protecting the environment, their neighborhoods and most importantly their property values,” Fox says.

“Community members now realize how much of an impact they can have in their attacks against developers, recognizing that elected officials are unlikely to vote against the wishes of committed and organized constituents. With this power in hand, residents can now determine the fate of new developments.”

Land Development magazine is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.

For more information on NAHB resources on land development issues, e-mail Jennifer Jones at NAHB, or call her at 800-368-5242 x8469.

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