Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Chevy Pickup, Salt Lake City, Utah / ソルト・レーク・シ...Image by Jose P Isern Comas via Flickr

Previously I talked about your typical NIMBY’s. Today I am going to discuss a different type of NIMBY called the community activist. While they both end up being NIMBY’s the motivation behind the community activist makes them a different creature all together.

First of all there are two different types of community activist. The first one is to be despised. They are either out to make a name for themselves or just get their name in print. They could care less what ultimately happens so long as they benefit from it.

The second type of community activist is the one I will really focus on. For the most part they truly car about what they are trying to accomplish but often end up being obstructionist much like regular NIMBY’s.

I am going to pick on the west side for this example.

First of all let’s look at how the west side ended up in its present position. The first big blow to the west side came when it was cut off from the west of Salt Lake City by Interstate 15. In fact it is hemmed in on three sides by freeways and despite what the road warriors will tell you, when a community is cut into pieces by a freeway it causes it to loose a part of itself. It doesn’t matter if it’s above or below ground; the freeway divides an area into separate parts.

As you know over time the Westside was largely ignored and forgotten while most of the money went to the east side of town.

The problem with activist from this scenario is that they feel that they deserve everything handed to them but see everything as a threat to their neighborhood. They get so caught up in their own little world that they are not willing to accept anything that will for the common good.

The TRAX line along 600 West is the perfect example. This would have service the greater good as it would allowed a direct connection from Central Station to the Airport. UTA could still route the trains into the station but they would either have to travel through downtown first and head back or miss downtown entirely. Only a small number of homes would have been affected by the line and they are already cut off from everything in sight anyway.

On the other hand the community activist thinks they should be handed everything. They complain that they are not seeing enough economic development yet they do little to help their community attract businesses and promote the locally owned businesses that are already in their community.

Using the west side activist again:

The first thing community activist must do is stop having the victimization complex. While the west side has gotten the shaft in the past, the only way to change things is to work with the rest of the city not against them.

Second they need to deal with the problems they have in their community especially the gang problem. They need to show that they have the community organized to make it a better place before businesses are going consider moving to the area.

They also need to work with existing businesses to promote the area and bring new attention to the area. Turn their disadvantage into an advantage because they are different from the east side.

Too many community activists are nothing but obstructionist and in the long run they cause more harm than they do good. However, they need to work with their community to make it a place that people want to come to instead of a place people want to avoid.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

No comments: