Education in Oakland

10 Secret Ways to Stop NIMBYs

Posted by novometro on September 9, 2006

Ask a developer what he (let’s be honest, how many are women?) thinks about a community group organizing to defeat his project, and you will likely be treated to painful, implausible bromides about the “process” and “inclusion.” That’s especially true in the Bay Area where builders long ago learned the argot of community activism.

With activists in Oakland mustering opposition to Oak to Ninth, and the sale of school district property for a large residential complex on Lake Merritt, the developers involved will be crafting their counter strategies. It’s impossible to know what’s said in their war rooms. But an article this month in Builder’s News offered this revealing pop quiz to its readers. The article acknowledged what every developer knows only too well: It’s often easier to stop something new than to build something new. “It doesn’t take much for opponents to turn out NIMBY neighbors, but it takes sophisticated tactics to minimize community opposition and mobilize supporters for your development. Test your community relations skills with our quiz on development opposition.” Take the quiz, and see if you recognize any techniques from the last community hearing you attended.


4 Responses to “10 Secret Ways to Stop NIMBYs”

  1. Let me answer your question – Forest City’s Bay Area arm is run by women, who led the Uptown and Bloomingdale’s projects (their construction manger in Oakland is also a woman). A female SF developer obtained high-rise entitlements along Broadway, recently selling them off for someone else to construct. Real estate is a bit more old-fashioned than other industries, but it’s not quite all-male.

    These tips were interesting, not really a secret, though. I especially like the specificity: “people tend to value the status quo between 3 to 20 times more than they value speculative future benefits.” It’s true, though – why else would anyone in Oakland agitate against tax-yiedling development when the city budget is sorely strained?

  2. Alex Gronke said

    It looks to me as if Forest City West is managed by men at the top. But I’ll allow that a public company like Forest City has its share of female execs. I’d be willing to bet, though, that the largest private development companies are mostly male-owned and operated.

  3. Alex Gronke said

    as for real estate being old-fashioned. It’s not the stodgiest industry. silicon valley venture capital, which prides itself on being a cutting-edge meritocracy, makes real estate look like a Green Party convention.

  4. len raphael said


    “why else would anyone in Oakland agitate against tax-yiedling development when the city budget is sorely strained?”

    adding more residential housing units results in a large one time tax revenue boost in transfer taxes and construction fees/permits, a very modest recurring increase in property taxes (because most of those go to state and county), a minuscule recurring increase in sales tax (Oakland restaurants and hair salons), that maybe offsets the recurring increases in city police, fire, sanitation, infrastructure costs.

    many cities prefer commercial development to residential, because business’s generate business taxes that go directly to city coffers, plus sales taxes, plus transfer and property taxes etc. without demanding costly schools, 24×7 safety, park maintenance.

    Financially desperate cities like our Oakland, can’t afford to take the long term view since they have payroll and retirement obligations to meet now.

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