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As explained by Wikipedia:

NIMBY (an acronym for the phrase "Not In My Back Yard"), or Nimby (as a word, instead of an acronym), is a pejorative characterization of opposition by residents to a proposal for a new development because it is close to them (or, in some cases, because the development involves controversial or potentially dangerous technology) often with the connotation that such residents believe that the developments are needed in society but should be further away. The residents are often called Nimbys and their state of mind is called Nimbyism.

Are there cities/countries which successfully deal with this problem, without violating basic principles of democracy? E.g. perhaps some countries delegate controversial projects to a vote by the state legislature, rather than allowing the city residents to vote directly?

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    I concede that a few discontents are still here, but I don't think that anything short of stopping the project would have satisfied them anyway. And my guess is that it would be the same with any NIMBY commitee. So now my question for you is: what do you define as "succesfully dealing with it"? – Federico May 7 '17 at 11:24
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    @JonathanReez Do you want to restrict freedom of speech and peaceful protest? Because most definitions of democracy would allow these, even against democratically legitimated decisions. – Philipp May 7 '17 at 12:36
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    Basically, any democracy fits this in the specific case where majority supports the position except for small minority directly geographically affected - by virtue of punting the decision to wider locale (city to county, county to state, state to federal). – user4012 May 7 '17 at 13:19
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    What would count as “successfully deal” with this problem in your eyes? Sure, every country has one or two examples of large projects that takes forever but stuff generally gets built. And city residents voting directly is the exception rather than the rule. More often than not when some large infrastructure project faces strong opposition it's through a grass-root movement or perhaps activists forcing the hands of the institutions. And they are mostly unsuccessful. – Relaxed May 7 '17 at 19:09
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    I'll try to provide a proper answer later, but Japan's land use laws at the national level are often hailed as anti-NIMBY. – ohwilleke May 31 '17 at 21:46
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+25

The only real solution to NIMBYism is to move power from local towards national levels. Otherwise, you get... well... democracy.

People want their political system to improve their own lives, and to represent their own interests. At a city or neighborhood level, increased development means higher density, more people, slower traffic, slower property appreciation, and the like. Why would they be for that?

The solution, of course, to move the political decision-making to a level at which both the problems and solutions have to be considered together, and for which reasonable trade-offs can be made.

The more local the decision-making, the more likely NIMBY considerations will come to prevail. Politics is all about trade-offs, and if the decisions are made where countervailing interests don't have to be considered, they won't be.

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    -1: Although everything in this answer may be true, it does not answer the question (what countries/cities deal the problem, and how). Also, answers based solely on "common sense" rhetoric are discouraged here and may attract downvotes and/or denials. – bytebuster Jun 1 '17 at 0:48
  • "increased development means … slower property appreciation" This seems counterintuitive, do you have a source for it? – Rupert Morrish Jul 24 at 2:37
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There are couple of examples i can give from Turkey:

  1. Gold Mine project in Erzincan
  2. Thermal Power Plant projects in the city of Amasra, and Trakya region.
  3. Third Airport to Istanbul

Most of these projects are still contested by the locals, but probably will be carried out. Most of the time the way to deal with locals is to promise them jobs in the projects. With high levels of unemployment, this becomes attractive especially to youth. In an ideal system if this doesn't balance out the impacts of the project in the community, we would expect the annulation of the project.
However most of the time, in a law dispute, private companies have a very strong lawyer team that works things out, mostly by convincing locals to accept a certain amount of money for their expenses. This almost never cover the expenses of the locals though.


If it is the state that proposes the project, depending on the national benefit of the project, we can observe an annulation to deportation of locals to some place else. The deportation almost always ends up in misery, because one doesn't really notice it in urban areas but in rural areas where you live really matters and it determines one's way of life, you loose your place, you loose your way of life. This has happened in the construction of the dams in the south-east of Turkey. Even some archaeological sites went under the water, but the dams created the necessary infrastructure in order to farm the land for later generations.
I honestly believe that proposing jobs or a privilaged access to jobs and improving overall infrastructure of the locals (schools, hospitals,etc) is a reasonable way to convince people, when, of course, the project doesn't involve any health consequence in the long run, as in the case of gold mine project in Erzincan or plantations.

  • In countries with a higher level of income, standard of living, and all that, you don’t lure people with promises about their standard of living anymore. Their standard of living is already so high, that they just don’t want anything that could change their view in their neighborhood. – jjack Dec 28 '17 at 19:34
  • I don't disagree with your final paragraph, but is that really a democratic system, or just a smart way to convince people? – gerrit Sep 11 '18 at 11:39

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