The Saint Index: United States, 2011



Quantifying and tracking attitudes towards real estate development.

Activism

Nearly one in five Americans or someone in their family have actively opposed a new development project in their community. The old adage, “You can’t fight City Hall,” has been supplanted by a willingness to use the political system and political organizing methods to stop development projects.

WHO OPPOSES LOCAL PROJECTS AND WHY

Opposition activities include forming neighborhood groups, calling and writing elected officials, signing or gathering petitions, attending and speaking out at local hearings, fundraising, and hiring lawyers and experts such as traffic engineers and environmental consultants.

 

The reasons Americans give for fighting projects don’t tell the entire story. While just 14 percent said it was to protect the value of their home, six years of Saint Index results show that is not an accurate gauge of how big a role that motive actually plays in opposition to development.

 

Similarly, when asked about willingness to support a local project in light of the down economic situation, Americans say they are more willing to do so, yet a big majority of Americans also says their hometown doesn’t need more development. This “NIMBY dilemma” is an indication of how persistent and ingrained NIMBY attitudes have become. No matter what they say, Americans will fight when they are convinced a new project will threaten the value of their homes.