NIMBY (an acronym for the phrase "Not In My Back Yard"),[1][2] or Nimby,[3] is a characterisation of opposition by residents to a proposed development in their local area. It carries the connotation that such residents are only opposing the development because it is close to them and that they would tolerate or support it if it were built farther away. In some cases, NIMBY opposition can be overcome through an open process and impact mitigation.[4] The residents are often called Nimbys, and their viewpoint is called Nimbyism. The NIMBY tendency has been described as a bipartisan phenomenon.[5]

Examples of projects likely to be opposed include any sort of housing development,[6] bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, skyscrapers, homeless shelters,[7] oil wells, chemical plants, industrial parks, military bases, fracking,[8] wind turbines, desalination plants, landfill sites, incinerators, power plants, quarries, prisons,[9] pubs, adult entertainment clubs, concert venues, firearms dealers, mobile phone masts, electricity pylons, abortion clinics,[10] children's homes, nursing homes, youth hostels, sports stadiums, shopping malls, retail parks, railways, roads, airports, seaports, nuclear waste repositories,[11] storage for weapons of mass destruction,[12] cannabis dispensaries, recreational cannabis shops and the accommodation of persons applying for asylum, refugees, and displaced persons.

The NIMBY concept may also be applied to people who advocate some proposal (e.g., budget cuts, tax increases, layoffs, immigration or energy conservation) but oppose implementing it in a way that might affect their lives or require any sacrifice on their part.

Claimed rationale

Developments likely to attract local objections include:

The claimed reasons against these developments vary, and some are given below.

  • Increased traffic: More jobs, more housing or more stores correlates to increased traffic on local streets and greater demand for parking spots. Industrial facilities such as warehouses, factories, or landfills often increase the volume of truck traffic.
  • Harm to locally owned small businesses: The development of a big box store may provide too much competition to a locally owned store; similarly, the construction of a new road may make the older road less travelled, leading to a loss of business for property owners. This can lead to excessive relocation costs, or to loss of respected local businesses.
  • Loss of residential property value: Homes near an undesirable development may be less desirable for potential buyers. The lost revenue from property taxes may, or may not, be offset by increased revenue from the project.
  • Environmental pollution of land, air, and water: Power plants, factories, chemical facilities, crematoriums, sewage treatment facilities, airports, and similar projects may, or may be claimed to, contaminate the land, air, or water around them. Especially facilities assumed to smell might cause objections.
  • Light pollution: Projects that operate at night, or that include security lighting (such as street lights in a parking lot), may be accused of causing light pollution.
  • Noise pollution: In addition to the noise of traffic, a project may inherently be noisy. This is a common objection to wind power, airports, roads, and many industrial facilities, but also stadiums, festivals, and nightclubs which are particularly noisy at night when locals want to sleep.[13]
  • Visual blight and failure to "blend in" with the surrounding architecture: The proposed project might be ugly or particularly large, or cast a shadow over an area due to its height.[14]
  • Loss of a community's small-town feel: Proposals that might result in new people moving into the community, such as a plan to build many new houses, are often claimed to change the community's character.
  • Strain of public resources and schools: This reason is given for any increase in the local area's population, as additional school facilities might be needed for the additional children, but particularly to projects that might result in certain kinds of people joining the community, such as a group home for people with disabilities, or immigrants.
  • Disproportionate benefit to non-locals: The project appears to benefit distant people, such as investors (in the case of commercial projects like factories or big-box stores) or people from neighboring areas (in the case of regional government projects, such as airports, highways, sewage treatment, or landfills).
  • Increases in crime: This is usually applied to projects that are perceived as attracting or employing low-skill workers or racial minorities, as well as projects that cater to people who are thought to often commit crimes, such as the mentally ill, the poor, and drug addicts. Additionally, certain types of projects, such as pubs or medical marijuana dispensaries, might be perceived as directly increasing the amount of crime in the area.
  • Risk of an (environmental) disaster, such as with drilling operations, chemical industry, dams,[15] or nuclear power plants.
  • Historic areas: The affected area is on a heritage register, because of its many older properties that are being preserved as such.

Generally, many NIMBY objections are guessed or feared, because objections are more likely to be successful before construction starts. It is often too late to object to the project after its completion, since new additions are unlikely to be reversed. As hinted by the list, protests can occur for opposite reasons. A new road or shopping center can cause increased traffic and work opportunities for some, and decreased traffic for others, harming local businesses.

People in an area affected by plans sometimes form an organization which can collect money and organize the objection activities. NIMBYists can hire a lawyer to do formal appeals, and contact media to gain public support for their case.

Origin and history

The word appears in a June 1980 newspaper article from Virginia, with the origin of the phrase explained thus:

Some call it the Nimby Syndrome. That's Nimby, as in "Not-in-my-back-yard"[16]

The phrase '"not in my back yard" syndrome', without the acronym, is found from February of the same year.[17] The Oxford English Dictionary earliest citation is a Christian Science Monitor article from November 1980, although even there the author indicates the term is already used in the hazardous waste industry.[18][19]

The concept behind the term, that of locally organized resistance to unwanted land uses, is likely to have originated earlier. One suggestion is it emerged in the 1950s.[20]

In the 1980s, the term was popularized by British politician Nicholas Ridley, who was Conservative Secretary of State for the Environment. Comedian George Carlin used the term in a comedy skit, implying that people had already heard of it.[21]

The NIMBY acronym has also been used by social scientists since the early 1980s to describe the resistance of communities to the siting of controversial facilities and land use.[22]


NIMBY and its derivative terms NIMBYism, NIMBYs, and NIMBYists, refer implicitly to debates of development generally or to a specific case. As such, their use is inherently contentious. The term is usually applied to opponents of a development, implying that they have narrow, selfish, or myopic views. Its use is often pejorative.[23]

Not in My Neighborhood

The term Not in My Neighborhood (or NIMN) is also frequently used.[24] "NIMN" additionally refers to legislative actions or private agreements made with the sole purpose of maintaining racial identity within a particular neighborhood or residential area by forcefully keeping members of other races from moving into the area.[25] In that regard, "Not in My Neighborhood," by author and journalist Antero Pietila, describes the toll NIMN politics had on housing conditions in Baltimore throughout the 20th century and the systemic, racially based citywide separation it caused.[26]


NAMBI ("Not Against My Business or Industry") is used as a label for any business concern that expresses umbrage with actions or policy that threaten that business, whereby they are believed to be complaining about the principle of the action or policy only for their interests alone and not for all similar business concerns who would equally suffer from the actions or policies.[27] The term serves as a criticism of the kind of outrage that business expresses when disingenuously portraying its protest to be for the benefit of all other businesses. Such a labelling would occur, for example, when opposition expressed by a business involved in urban development is challenged by activists – causing the business to in turn protest and appealing for support from fellow businesses lest they also find themselves challenged where they seek urban development. This term also serves as a rhetorical counter to NIMBY. Seen as an equivalent to NIMBY by those opposing the business or industry in question.


BANANA is an acronym for "Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything" (or "Anyone").[28][29] The term is most often used to criticize the ongoing opposition of certain advocacy groups to land development.[30] The apparent opposition of some activists to every instance of proposed development suggests that they seek a complete absence of new growth. The term is commonly used within the context of planning in the United Kingdom. The Sunderland City Council lists the term in their online dictionary of jargon.[31]

In the United States, the related phenomenon "CAVE People" or "CAVE Dwellers" serves as an acronym for "Citizens Against Virtually Everything."[32][33]


PIBBY is an acronym for "Place In Blacks' Back Yard." This principle indicates that the people with social, racial, and economic privileges object to a development in their own back yards, and if the objectionable item must be built, then it should be built so that its perceived harms disproportionately affect poor, socially disadvantaged people. Economically disadvantaged people might not be willing or able to hire a lawyer to appeal the right way, or might have more immediate troubles than a new nearby construction project. The environmental justice movement has pointed out Nimbyism leads to environmental racism. Robert D. Bullard, Director of the Environmental Justice Resource Center at Clark Atlanta University, has argued that official responses to NIMBY phenomena have led to the PIBBY principle.[34][35][36][37][38][39][40][41]


SOBBY is an acronym for "Some Other Bugger's Back Yard" and refers to the state of mind which agrees that a particular project may be desirable and perhaps necessary – but only if it is placed elsewhere than someone's neighbourhood or district.[42]

Points of debate

Although often used rather pejoratively, the use of the concept NIMBY and similar terms have been critiqued. For instance, the term is frequently used to dismiss groups as selfish or ill-informed, yet these same groups may have virtues that are overlooked.[43]

In favor of development

Frequently argued debate points in favor of development include higher employment, tax revenue, marginal cost of remote development, safety, and environmental benefits. Proponents of development may accuse locals of egotism, elitism, parochialism, drawbridge mentality, racism and anti-diversity, the inevitability of criticism, and misguided or unrealistic claims of prevention of urban sprawl. If people who don't want to be disturbed see the general need of an establishment, such as an airport, they generally suggest another location. But seen from society's perspective, the other location might not be better, since people living there get disturbed instead.[44]

In favor of local sovereignty

Those labeled as NIMBYs may have a variety of motivations and may be unified only because they oppose a particular project. For example, some may oppose any significant change or development, regardless of type, purpose, or origin. Others, if the project is seen as being imposed by outsiders, may hold strong principles of self-governance, local sovereignty, local autonomy, and home rule. These people believe that local people should have the final choice, and that any project affecting the local people should clearly benefit themselves, rather than corporations with distant investors or central governments.[45] Still others may object to a particular project because of its nature, e.g., opposing a nuclear power plant over fear of radiation, but accepting a local waste management facility as a municipal necessity.



An Australian politician, Zali Steggall, representing the Sydney Warringah electorate, which includes Manly Beach, advocates action on climate change.[46] An online petition was set up to assess support for the establishment of wind farms in Warringah. The petition, which calls for Steggall to show leadership on this matter, has been well supported.[47][48]


Nova Scotia

In July 2012, residents of Kings County rallied against a bylaw, developed over three years of consultation and hearings, allowing wind generators to be constructed nearby.[49] A similar theme arose in September 2009, where residents there rallied against a wind generator in Digby Neck.[50] In January 2011, residents of Lawrencetown in Halifax County openly opposed a cellular telephone tower being built.[51] A proposed development of downtown Dartmouth in August 2012 was also contested by residents.[52] In February 2013, some residents of Lunenburg County opposed wind farms being built in the area, saying, "It's health and it's property devaluation" and "This is an industrial facility put in the middle of rural Nova Scotia. It does not belong there."[53]

In March 2013, some residents of the community of Blockhouse opposed the building and development of a recycling plant, referred to by one business owner as a "dump." The plant would offer 75 jobs to the community of roughly 5,900 people.[54] In the same month, the municipal councilors of Chester approved the building of wind turbines in the area in a 6–1 vote, despite some local opposition.[55]


In China there were many famous cases of nail houses, including one property holdout who had expressways built around and completely encircled his apartment building in Guangzhou.[56][57]

Hong Kong

When Christian Zheng Sheng College, a correctional school for young drug addicts, opened in 1998, several people called it an eyesore. In June 2009, residents of Mui Wo voiced objection when they announced they are planning to move their campus into an empty school building there.


The No TAV opposition to the Turin–Lyon high-speed railway is often characterized as a NIMBY movement.


The Muraiken Undō or No Leprosy Patients in Our Prefecture Movement, was a government funded Japanese public health and social movement which began between 1929 and 1934.

In 2001, when the leprosy prevention law was ruled unconstitutional, the Prime Minister, the Minister of Welfare, and the National Diet published statements of apology to leprosy patients and their families. Several prefectural governors made apologies at public sanatoriums.

There have been incidents where NIMBYs ruled over Greater Tokyo interests. Shinkansen railways have been extensively engineered to mitigate impacts of tunnel boom due to complaints by nearby residents, such that Japan is the only country with such strict regulations (and accompanying financial burdens) on tunnel and aerodynamic designs. This is one of the key reasons there are so many Shinkansen trainset designs.

Narita Airport

Farmers near Narita International Airport, the metropolis's only international link to the outside world, have resisted even the smallest bit of land allocation. Originally the plan for the airport also included a high speed railway line that was scrapped. NIMBYs also prevented extension of the congested airport's very short 2nd runway (unusable for anything but short haul Narrow-body aircraft) until the late 2000s, when finally cross town Haneda Airport was opened to international traffic as additional runways on landfill were completed at many billions of dollars of extra costs, as the 2nd runway was lengthened to 2,500 meters. The 2nd Narita runway still runs short of its original 1974 blueprints and impacts airport operational capacity.

Odakyu Double Tracking

Odakyu Electric Railway, now providing transit along a corridor with 5 million people living in walking distance of its rail and feeder bus service area,[58] was originally built prewar era, and as the city of Tokyo's population ballooned rail demand in suburbs exploded. By 1960s, oshiya pushers were required to squash people into packed trains, and Odakyu Railway sought to expand its two-track lines to four,[59] thus allowing more passing trains and faster run times as well as less crowding and congestive wait and hold of trains. NIMBY residents aside the line in Setagaya ward fought off attempts by the railway to acquire land, Odakyu did not want to make a scene so they attempted to buy land one by one by offering high prices. The Setagaya Residents' opposition set the stage for a long-term and remarkable NIMBY cases in the courts and legislature.[60] By 1993, after 3 decades of trying, it was apparent this plan was failing, and the company decided to go for an multi-billion dollar solution: tunneling two lines underground, and then adding back two new lines stacked on top, to make 4 tracks in each direction for 12 stations and 10.4 km, instead of acquiring the land.[58] The company's decision began in 1993 and completed in 2004 for 1 critical section, meanwhile, for the 2nd smaller section, this same decision was made in 2003 with project completion finally approaching fruition in March 2018, nearly 6 decades later.[59][58]

United Kingdom

Ashtead, Surrey

In the affluent English village of Ashtead, Surrey, which lies on the outskirts of London, residents objected in 2007[61] to the conversion of a large, £1.7 million residential property into a family support centre for relatives of wounded British service personnel. The house was to be purchased by a registered charity, SSAFA Forces Help.[61][62][63] Local residents objected to the proposal out of fear of increased traffic and noise, as well as the possibility of an increased threat of terrorism. They also contended that the SSAFA charity is actually a business, thereby setting an unwelcome precedent.[64] Local newspapers ran articles titled "Nimby neighbours' war with wounded soldiers' families" and "No Heroes in my Backyard."

Ex-servicemen and several members of the British general public organised a petition in support of SSAFA, and even auctioned the "Self Respect of Ashtead" on eBay.[65]

High Speed 2

Particularly in the run up to the final decision on the route of the high-speed railway known as High Speed 2, BBC News Online reported that many residents of Conservative constituencies were launching objections to the HS2 route based on the effects it would have on them, whilst also showing concerns that HS2 is unlikely to have a societal benefit at a macro level under the current economic circumstances.[66][67] Likewise, Labour MP Natascha Engel—through whose constituency the line will pass—offered a "passionate defence of nimbyism" in the House of Commons, with regards to the effects the line would have on home- and business-owning constituents.[68] HS2 has also been characterised by residents of the Chilterns and Camden making arguments against the supposed lack of a business case for the line, often as a smokescreen for NIMBYism. On 17 March 2014, it was announced that Camden's NIMBYs were successful in their campaign to derail the HS1–HS2 link railway.[69]

Heathrow Airport

In November 2007 a consultation process began for the building of a new third runway and a sixth terminal and it was controversially[70] approved on 15 January 2009 by UK Government ministers.[71] The project was then cancelled on 12 May 2010 by the Cameron Government.[72]

Coventry Airport

The airport is owned by CAFCO (Coventry) Limited, a joint venture between Howard Holdings plc[73] and Convergence-AFCO Holdings Limited (CAFCOHL), and in June 2007 had its application to build permanent terminal and passenger facilities turned down by the UK government due to public pressure.[74][75][76][77][78][79]

Wimbledon, London

The London Borough of Merton did not have enough school places for local children who would be reaching school age in 2012 and 2013. Almost all local schools had expanded, but the NIMBY group "Save Our Rec" (Recreation ground) opposed the expansion of Dundonald school[80] onto the site of the nearby park's pavilion.[81]

United States

Research shows that conservatives and liberals are equally likely to oppose new housing developments in their localities. White neighborhoods and cities tend to favor more restrictive housing development policy.[82] A study in Perspectives on Politics found that "individuals who are older, male, longtime residents, voters in local elections, and homeowners are significantly more likely to participate" in local government, and that "these individuals overwhelmingly (and to a much greater degree than the general public) oppose new housing construction."[83]

According to a 2017 report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition, there is a shortage of 7.4 million affordable homes available for rent to extremely low income (ELI) households in the United States. As a result, seventy-one percent of ELI households are forced to spend over half of their income on housing costs leading to severe financial burdens.[84][85] Yet, while the need for more affordable housing is evident, opposition from “Not-in-my-backyard” or NIMBY activists present significant challenges to affordable housing developments, resulting in costly design changes, construction delays, and permit denials.[86] However, research suggests that proactive outreach and communication by affordable housing developers and proponents through the leveraging of social marketing and positive messaging can overcome common NIMBY barriers.[87][88]


A small number of residents (mostly farmers) in Hanford, California and surrounding areas are opposed to the California High-Speed Rail Authority building high-speed rail near farmland, citing that it will bring environmental and economic problems.

Wealthy residents of southern Orange County, CA defeated a local measure that proposed to convert the decommissioned El Toro Marine Base into a commercial airport, claiming that the airport would be "unsafe" during landings and take-offs as well as create air quality issues. The real issue was the FAA planned the flight paths for the airport over expensive neighborhoods of the south Orange County and residents feared that their property values would decrease. The airport proposal, however, was strongly supported by Northern Orange County residents. The defeat of the local measure resulted in the creation of the Orange County Great Park.

National, state and local environmentalists, historic preservationists and long time residents of South Pasadena, California have been successfully opposing the completion of the highly controversial State Route 710 through the cities of Los Angeles (El Sereno), South Pasadena and Pasadena for over 60 years. There has been a federal injunction in place for 41 years stopping construction of the surface freeway. USC and UCLA urban and transportation planning students study this 80-year-old controversy because it is a classic example of sustained grass-roots opposition to a government proposal.

Now and for over a decade, a struggle has been brewing in San Francisco, California between the voting public and the influx of young professionals and tech workers. With no room to expand, construction companies can only build up in order to meet the increasing housing demand. However, NIMBYism has prevented high rise construction from spreading in San Francisco, citing restrictions on buildings' shadows and the dramatic changes proposed to the waterfront skyline.[89] The opposition argues that new construction will increase the supply of luxury housing without creating affordable housing, thus raising the average rent while by attracting a wealthier population to the city of San Francisco and forcing middle and lower income families out of the city.[90]

On 29 September 2017, 15 housing bills were signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown to combat the state's housing shortage. Many of these bills are considered direct attempts to reduce the ability of private citizens to prevent housing projects from going forward, even being referred to by some as "Anti-NIMBY" bills.[91][92]


Similar to the situation in Nantucket Sound, Mass., a minority of residents in St. Lucie County, Florida have vehemently opposed the construction of wind turbines in the county. The construction of the wind turbines was strongly supported by over 80% of county residents according to a 2008 Florida Power and Light (FPL) poll.[93] Additionally, the power company proposed building the turbines in a location on a beach near a prior existing nuclear power plant owned by the company.

In the 1980s, a agency known as the Palm Beach County Expressway Authority was formed to develop a series of east/west highways to take people from suburban Palm Beach County into downtown West Palm Beach. This was done in anticipation of population growth that would happen over the next decades in Palm Beach County that would bring in more traffic. Many neighbors in areas such as Westgate and Lake Belvedere Estates strongly opposed this plan citing it would wipe out their neighborhoods. Ultimately the plan was revised to create SR-80 Boulevard into an express like roadway by eliminating traffic lights and overpassing other local roadways.


In 1959, when Deerfield officials learned that a developer building a neighborhood of large new homes planned to make houses available to African Americans, they issued a stop-work order. An intense debate began about racial integration, property values, and the good faith of the residents, community officials and builders. For a brief time, Deerfield was spotlighted in the national news as "the Little Rock of the North."[94] Supporters of integration were denounced and ostracized by residents. Eventually, the village passed a referendum to build parks on the property, thus putting an end to the housing development. Two model homes already partially completed were sold to village officials.[94] Otherwise, the land lay dormant for years before it was developed into what is now Mitchell Pool and Park and Jaycee Park. The first black family did not move into Deerfield until much later, and in years since Deerfield has seen a greater influx of minorities, including Jews, Asians, Greeks and others. This episode in Deerfield's history is described in But Not Next Door by Harry and David Rosen, both residents of Deerfield.


Opposition to two proposed freeways within the MA Route 128 beltway road around Boston—the Inner Belt and the routing of Interstate 95 in Massachusetts into downtown Boston via the Southwest Corridor—were opposed from their proposals during the 1950s era, and finally cancelled by the actions of then-Governor Francis Sargent in 1970. The MBTA Orange Line heavy rail rapid transit line's southern route was eventually re-located along much of the Southwest Corridor right-of-way for the cancelled I-95's roadbed in the late 1980s, when the Orange Line's Washington Street Elevated tracks were torn down at the time.

Some residents and businesses of Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard, and Nantucket Island have opposed construction of Cape Wind, a proposed offshore wind farm in Nantucket Sound. Proponents cite the environmental, economic, and energy security benefits of clean, renewable energy, while opponents are against any obstruction to the views from oceanfront vacation homes and tourist destinations based in the region.


In the late 1990s a proposal for commuter rail on the Dan Patch Corridor between Minneapolis and Northfield was studied. In 2002, due to opposition from neighborhoods along the corridor, two state representatives from the suburbs of Bloomington and Edina passed a legislative ban not allowing further study, discussion, funding, and construction of the project. While the ban is still in place despite numerous attempts to repeal it, the two suburbs that sponsored the ban are now open to the proposal. Lakeville and St. Louis Park remain opposed to the project and repealing the ban.

New York

In 1858, the residents of Staten Island burned down the New York Marine Hospital, at the time the largest quarantine facility in the United States, citing its negative effect on local property values.

On Long Island, various electrification and expansion projects of the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) were substantially delayed due to the protests of people living near the railroad. For example, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has proposed to build a third track on the Main Line from Floral Park station to Hicksville station in order to increase capacity.[95][96] Although most communities along the route supported grade crossing eliminations as part of the project, there was fierce opposition for building a third track from the villages of Floral Park, New Hyde Park, and Garden City, which said the construction and the resulting increased train service will reduce the quality of life in their neighborhoods.[97][98][99] The third track project was suspended indefinitely in 2008,[100] but new funding for the project was included in a 2016 infrastructure improvement plan announced by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, which included measures intended to mitigate locals' concerns.[101] Despite the promise of mitigation efforts, several local politicians denounced the governor's plan within a day of its announcement.[102][103] In December 2017, the LIRR awarded a contract to build the third track.[104]

In Port Washington, New York, a dispute broke out between the town of North Hempstead and the LIRR over a proposed yard expansion at Port Washington station. To expand the yard, a parking lot belonging to the town would need to be reduced in size, but a local councilperson stated that the addition of the tracks "will completely ruin the character of the town."[105] The LIRR was able to expand the yard without the agreement of North Hempstead by tearing up 140 parking spaces of its own parking lot, also adjacent to the station.[105]

Community opposition also led to the cancellation of a proposed extension of the New York City Subway's Astoria Line (carrying the N and W trains) to LaGuardia Airport.[106][107] Similarly, opposition has killed any proposal to build a bridge or tunnel across the Long Island Sound with some believing it will harm their communities with an influx of unwanted traffic as well as concerns regarding the environment and the number of homes that would be cleared as a result.[108]

See also


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