Beware the NIMBYs

I get very, very annoyed at the NIMBYs . . . people who, when faced with anything that might mar their precious neighborhoods in order to provide for some greater good, say, “not in my back yard!”

For example, I often hear of homeowners’ associations and community groups banding together to prevent the installation of new cellular phone towers. Yes, we know, the towers are ugly. Sometimes, a little ugliness is the price we pay for progress. Whenever I hear about some obstructionist community refusing to allow the installation of a much-needed cell tower, I always wish we could just terminate the entire neighborhood’s wireless phone service. Wireless companies don’t have to provide service to people actively trying to harm their business. The people in those neighborhoods clearly don’t want service anyway.

I’m a real jerk about these kinds of things. If you refuse to allow progress because it happens to be in your back yard, then why should you be allowed reap its benefits? This should be the consequence of deciding to obstruct infrastructure improvement: you don’t get to use the infrastructure. If Arlington County doesn’t want to allow I-66 to be widened inside the beltway, for example, fine . . . block off the Arlington exits so the county doesn’t reap any of the highway’s benefits. The reduced traffic volume would improve flow for the rest of us just as much as the increased capacity would’ve anyway.

The same thing happens a lot with high voltage power lines. Many officials and residents here in Loudoun County are going on and on in opposition to the PATH project, a high voltage line that would pass through a small, isolated, rural corner of the county. Once again, yes, I know power lines are ugly. So what? If everybody in the United States refused to let power lines run through their counties, there would be no national power grid. If this county really wants to oppose progress, then American Electric Power and Allegheny Energy should stop supplying electricity to the county or to any of the power companies that supply it. Again, clearly we don’t want it.

I, for one, stand on the side of progress and infrastructure improvement . . . even if it’s a little ugly sometimes.

Scott Bradford is a writer and technologist who has been putting his opinions online since 1995. He believes in three inviolable human rights: life, liberty, and property. He is a Catholic Christian who worships the trinitarian God described in the Nicene Creed. Scott is a husband, nerd, pet lover, and AMC/Jeep enthusiast with a B.S. degree in public administration from George Mason University.