Friday, May 13, 2005

Column on NIMBY Squared, then Cubed

NIMBY Squared, then Cubed

Tibor R. Machan

Over the years I have occasionally written about goings on in Silverado
Canyon, where I live in Southern California. The place is smack in a part
of Cleveland National Forest, although obviously the strip that?s the
inhabited canyon is mostly private property.

One of the fracas has been about building a small development with 12
expensive homes. This has been lingering in various bureaucratic city,
county and whatever departments, with the delays brought about by the
NIMBY crowd, of course. Not everyone in the canyon is opposed,
interestingly, but those who are have much time and energy on their hand,
so this valuable property lies waste until the opponents are finally

Now the hullabaloo is about the possibility of a tunnel or corridor
coming through or near the canyon and, of course, there is even greater
opposition to this than to those 12 homes. The tunnel would help, it is
argued by traffic experts, ease the nearly immobile morning and afternoon
traffic on the Riverside Freeway (#91). Just as with the new homes, which
would ease some of the escalation of home costs by freeing up some lower
priced homes in Orange County, so with the proposed tunnel, certain people
would be helped by making their commute less painful and costly.

Alas, the NIMBY folks care nothing about this. They just bellyache about
how they wouldn?t be viewing only the beautiful mountains peaks but may
have to see a bit of road traffic from the canyon home windows and as they
mosey about the region.

I lived in Switzerland for two years and traveled extensively from there
to Southwest Italy and and elsewhere where tunnels about in great
numbers?big ones, small ones, wide ones and narrow ones, all types. And,
mind you, they are impressive, too, sights to behold at least to those of
us who enjoy some humanity mixed in with the wilds.

Now if you mention this hereabouts, you will hear all about the delicate
ground of Southern California, what with its various fault lines and the
like. But when you read the rants and raves about the possibility of
tunnels there is no word about that at all. It?s all about our wonderful
view and wild life and such, as if the wilds had no resilience and needed
these NIMBY folks to rescue it from human intervention.

Of course, you will never hear about how perhaps those who care so much
about the wilds should move out of their canyon homes, maybe to some city,
thus making the personal sacrifice they want everyone else to make by not
living or traveling near the canyons. The idea of the 12 homes or the
tunnel is rank villainy but their own insistence of having things go their
way is, well, the moral high ground. Sure?if you buy this, I got this
bridge in Brooklyn I could sell you for peanuts.

We live in the world alongside a lot of other people?many of whom will
not even consider responsible parenting but pop kids into it without a
moment reflection, often completely unprepared to care for them. Indeed,
many of the same folks who fret so much about the environment are also
very protective of those who are poor with large families. (They agitate
for paid family leave, for example, which clearly encourages population
growth.) But never mind, NIMBY comes first for them, whatever the impact
on those whose cost of living rises as a result.

It is simple maturity to acknowledge that space will be squeezed and that
no one has any right to live on prime real estate surrounded by wild life
that he or she didn?t bother to purchase fair and square. And part of the
price of living in California, especially, is to put up with millions of
others who also wish to live and travel there. And that means more roads,
even, sometimes, through nifty places like the Cleveland National Forest.

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