Comment of the Day: How Real Estate Trailblazers Really Can Burn Up the Trail

COMMENT OF THE DAY: HOW REAL ESTATE TRAILBLAZERS REALLY CAN BURN UP THE TRAIL Burning Up the Road“There are very real consequences for having a NIMBY-smashing attitude for developers. Yes, the developers usually get their way, but they often end up ruining it for the next guy. Ashby developers will get to build, but the next guy might not because of the high-rise buffering ordinance that passed in the wake of the Ashby uproar. 380 agreements flowed like a river to Walmart and Kroger, but community uproar has meant that only Costco has since been able to get a similar deal despite some healthy opposition in city council. And there has only been one 380 agreement in 2014 outside of the downtown urban living initiative (which does require first floor space to be retail ready). There are a whole host of development regulations that have their root in NIMBY activism: drainage detention, tree ordinance, and parking minimums, to name a few.” [Old School, commenting on Comment of the Day: Don’t Let the Locals Get in the Way of Your Project] Illustration: Lulu

3 Comment

  • Well said, I totally agree. Blowback is a bitch.

  • I would argue that the other things that you attribute to NIMBYs were more likely highly influenced or informally rubber-stamped by other political forces, entrenched business interests, or wealthy politically-active households. Most NIMBYs (in Houston) don’t know and will never be able to comprehend when it is appropriate to take credit, so taking credit comes off as being very egotistical.

    But don’t get me wrong. Not ALL individual NIMBYs espouse contrived and illogical ideas or reveal an ignorance of public finance and municipal operations or manifest the personality and tact of a hemorrhoid. I would never make such a sweeping generalization and that’s grossly unfair and insulting to the ones that are cunning and manipulative.

  • Niche: we get it. You hate NIMBYs. And I understand why. You are a multifamily developer, and Houstonians have been very hostile to multifamily development, at least since the 1980s.
    But let’s get a few things clear. First, NIMBYs fight multifamily housing because of the massive overbuilding that you guys did in the 1970s and early ’80s. It’s a “hit me once, shame on you, hit me twice, shame on me” kind of thing. When you build apartments, inevitably people are concerned that you’re building the next Westwood. And given the depth of what happened to that neighborhood, and others like it, I don’t blame them one bit.
    Second, everybody’s a NIMBY, in the right circumstances. Ok, so you proudly announce that you would welcome low-income housing next door to you. (I actually would, too, and I did, and I convinced neighbors to accept it). But what about a concrete crushing plant? Fracking? A waste transfer station? A toxic waste dump? Don’t lie.
    Third, as I said in the past, neighbors are usually no less reasonable than developers., or anyone else for that matter They just don’t react well when they’re blindsided, tricked, or lied to (nobody does). When this happens, that’s when they get whipped up into a frenzy and become NIMBYs.
    Finally, let me just note: our City needs development. We need growth. Nobody wants Houston to become another Detroit. And as an architect I more than anyone else want more building. As an architect I also am intrigued, and excited by the energy that comes wi our City not having a comprehensive zoning ordinance. But the current system is broken. Developers and their architects don’t know how to handle neighbors. They don’t understand that all construction is political. They’re caught off are by neighborhood opposition, and angered by it, when they should simply avoid it up front.