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🔗 If You Build It, They Won’t Care - by Addison Del Mastro:

One takeaway from this—which is hardly a unique or even uncommon story—is that (some) people will resist almost any change in the built environment for almost any reason. It will be for poor people, it will be for rich people, it’s too expensive, it’s too cheap, it will bring too much traffic, it will crowd people too closely together, it will be ugly, it will block sunlight, etc. etc. etc. You get this liberal counterculture protest stuff going on to stop a low-slung box store and a parking lot with a lovely walkable mixed-use development which, in any case, is just a couple of city blocks anyway.

That takeaway is kind of grim: nothing is too small to be bargained down or railroaded by NIMBYs who often don’t even have a coherent argument for why the new development is bad or why what’s there already is worth preserving.

But there’s another takeaway: nobody really cares! People don’t really feel that strongly about these things at the end of the day. They think they do; in the moment they get worked up about change and uncertainty and nostalgia. But at the end of the day, very few people in a year, or two years, or five years, will think when they go past the site “I miss when that was a different store” or “I wish that were still a strip mall.”

We have a lot of this kind of stuff—including the hippie who sings at city council meetings—going on in my town, and a small but very active and noisy contingent of NIMBYs. I have harbored similar suspicions, i.e., that a lot of this stuff is a knee-jerk response.

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