Despite the rough economy, Not In My Back Yard (NIMBY) attitudes about real estate development projects are stronger than ever. In fact, Americans’ opposition to new local development actually intensified for the first time since 2008, the 2011 Saint Index found. Cynicism about how and where development takes place is pervasive when Americans consider their own communities. Politics will continue to influence the development process, the results show, as Americans place high importance on a candidate’s position on growth and development issues when considering candidates for local office.
ATTITUDES ABOUT LOCAL DEVELOPMENT
A great majority of Americans — in fact, the highest level in six years of Saint Index surveys — oppose new development in their own community. 79 percent said their hometown is fine the way it is or already over-developed. Some 86 percent of suburban Americans do not want new development in their community. Asked, “What type of new development would you most like to see in your community?” the most common answer was “none.”
While NIMBYism is strongest in the Mid-Atlantic and West, a basic hostility to local development projects persists, regardless of region. Residents of rural communities expressed the least unfriendliness toward new local development.
More than half of Americans believe their local government is doing only “fair to poor” on decisions regarding planning and zoning.
Local growth and development issues can determine whether elections are won or lost. When considering candidates for county and local office, 84 percent say a candidate’s position on new development and growth is important. With voters paying close attention to candidates’ positions, local officials understand that defying a vocal opposition to approve a controversial project can have consequences at the polls in the next election.
Cynicism about government and the role money plays in our political system extends into perceptions about local development and planning. 64 percent of Americans said the relationship between local officials and developers makes the approval process unfair.