NIMBYs can’t stop area’s growth |

NIMBYs can’t stop area’s growth

Hypocrisy is an ugly thing. Especially when it’s so blatant.

That’s the problem with NIMBYs (Not in My Back Yard). Particularly NIMBYs who profess to be so … so … compassionate.

Take our NIMBYs, for example. Please. Somebody. Anybody.

Our NIMBYs are a clever bunch. They talk about the poor and oppressed over white wine in a 95-percent white community, while at the same time doing their best to ensure that the poor and oppressed can’t afford to live here. They know that California’s population is growing almost exclusively through immigration, most of it illegal, but they call you a racist for bringing that up and then attend meetings designed to keep those immigrants and others outside our county’s borders. “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses … but make sure they don’t huddle next door to me when they arrive.”

There’s a meeting slated for Sept. 22 in Nevada City. That’s where they will discuss Grass Valley’s growth, as odd as that seems. On the flier promoting that meeting, organizers ask, “What are the consequences of doubling the area’s population in the next several years?”

They are referring to four proposed developments that haven’t even been before the Planning Commission yet, and they are assuming our Grass Valley officials are just going to rubber stamp them, which seems rather insulting. I’ve spoken with most of our Grass Valley officials and don’t get the impression that more than one of those four proposals will ever see the light of day, at least not as they are presently proposed.

Meeting organizers also wonder, “What growth are we required to have?,” and, “What exactly is the benefit to us for increasing the rate of growth?”

Guess what, organizers. It’s too late to worry about the consequences or benefits of a growing population. In a letter titled “Defending Development,” State Assemblyman Ray Haynes reminds us that former Gov. Jerry Brown also believed in the theory that “if you don’t build it, they won’t come.” So he stopped building freeways, water projects, universities and power plants.

But they kept coming, and today California is trying to make up for 30 years of neglect.

“The only way to stop growth in California would be to implement a Chinese-style forced abortion and sterilization population control program in combination with a ban on immigration from other states and abroad,” writes the assemblyman.

“Since neither of those is going to happen, we have two options,” he continues. “We can deal with it, or we can not deal with it. It is fair to require new families and new employers to pay for the infrastructure and resources that they will require. It is NOT fair to expect them to make up for the neglect and mismanagement for the last 30 years of growth in California. It is NOT fair to pile excessive and extortionist fees on new families and employers, some of whom might just be your children and grandchildren someday, just because they don’t live and vote here yet because you may have been undercharged when you built YOUR house 10 years ago.”

The assemblyman asks where we plan to put these new families and then reminds us that the “slow-growthers” are not opposed to new development, so long as we don’t put them in low-density housing that causes urban sprawl and habitat destruction or in high-density housing that congests our roads and crowds our schools.

“Sounds like Goldilocks growth,” he says. “This housing is too dense; this housing isn’t dense enough. Except with these people, housing is never just right.”

The truth is, says Assemblyman Haynes, “we need both kinds of development. There are some cities that outright prohibit apartments, condos and other attached housing. Others allow them, but when the angry slow-growth activists show up to city council meetings, council members suddenly lose their spines and either pile new mandates and fees on the projects or reject them outright.”

Sounds familiar, eh?

Going back to years of neglect for a moment, organizers for the proposed meeting in Nevada City next week ask, “How will our lifestyle change (from growth)? Several major road intersections are rated as failing now; what will happen when the proposed growth is accomplished?”

Memo to organizers: Those “major road intersections” have been failing for a long, long time and could have been fixed a long, long time ago, had our government leaders spent the developers fees on what they were intended for. That long-awaited traffic signal at Idaho-Maryland Road, for example, has been paid for several times by several different developers and there’s still no signal. Ask the developers of Whispering Pines how much they had to pay for a signal. Then ask the developer of the home center down the road how much he paid for a signal. Then ask the city where the money went.

Assemblyman Haynes offered some advice to NIMBYs. “If you, or you and your neighbors, wish to protect your views of the unspoiled hillsides, or fields, or forests around you, then you should buy the hillsides, fields or forests. Don’t expect the owners of those properties to voluntarily give up the right to build their own homes just because their new dream house will offend your sense of aesthetic sensibilities.”

And … finally … Haynes says, “The people are coming whether we want them or not. Your children are going to want a house, too. Having the government artificially construct the supply of housing, or tax and fee your future neighbors (or perhaps your own children) to death will only serve to drive up the cost of housing further. And that’s just not very neighborly, is it?”


Jeff Ackerman is the publisher of The Union. His column appears on Tuesday.

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