Monday, August 24, 2009

The Story of NIMBYville, USA

There once was a small town on old Rt.66 in northern Arizona. This little town was filled with…well…a small, well-organized, vocal group of Nimbies (an acronym for not-in-my-back-yard). And as you would think, Nimbies are extremely adamant about not letting “their town” change, even when it comes to the point of trampling upon the private property rights and opportunities of their fellow citizens.

Strangely enough, NIMBYville had enormous amounts resources and infrastructure that any other small town in American would die to have. Just to name a few…..a transcontinental railroad, an interstate highway, an enormous airport and industrial complex, tens of thousands of acres of land, proximity to southern California/Las Vegas/Phoenix markets, great climate, and yes….LOTS OF WATER (which is critical in a desert). In fact, over 13 million acre feet of water.

So, how did these Nimbies successfully keep “their town” from changing over all these years? Great question! These Nimbies came fully equipped with an arsenal of excuses that they would throw at any effort to change “their town”. The Nimbies would simply open up their tool box every time significant change threatened them and start slinging mud in order to disguise their true reason (just being a NIMBY...which does not win too many objective political debates). Such handy-dandy tools included:

  • Water (that is always the biggest and first one). Works very well to scare all the citizens. Especially those in the county on wells.
  • Labeling the newcomers as crooks, scoundrels, and thieves.
  • Greedy (looking to loot “our resources”).
  • Not-to-be-trusted Outsiders
  • In favor of sustainable growth only (i.e. no more than 10 new homes and 1 new business a year).
  • Ah, last but not least…my person favorite…CORRUPT POLITICIANS that are on the take (even though they never have any proof of such corruption).

Sure, there are even a few other excuses in the NIMBY tool box, and each one used with such skill and artistry that the common folks of NIMBYville were always left with fear and distrust of just about everything.

Well one day, there came group of green power industry investors riding into NIMBYville. Not knowing the full history of NIMBYville, these investors assumed that they would be welcomed with open arms and great enthusiasm by this small community given the fact that these investors were offering:

  • Billions of dollars in construction (yes folks, that is a “B”).
  • Millions of dollars in direct community investment (yes folks, that is a “M”).
  • Millions of dollars in property tax revenue (yes folks, that is a “M”).
  • Thousands of construction jobs (yes folks, that is a “T”).
  • Hundreds of permanent jobs (yes folks, that is a “H”).
  • Plus many other direct and indirect jobs that will come to support the green power companies.

And for the cherry on top, NIMBYville has the opportunity to become known as epicenter, the hub, the #1 place for this new green power industry. Not just in Arizona, not just across the United States, but around the world! In fact at this point, there is no way to fully gage the long term value of this incredible opportunity.

Best yet, this proposed investment in NIMBYville was during one of the worst economic crises since the Great Depression. Most citizens were having trouble putting food on the table nevertheless keeping a roof over their heads.

In a shocking and horrifying end to this story, the green power investors were spit at and run out of town by the Nimbies using all the usual tactics listed above. Regardless of all these opportunities and difficult economic times, the Nimbies still refused to let “their town” change and develop. Why you ask? Good question! It turns out that that most Nimbies did not care about having a job, paying for a mortgage, or having enough money to buy food since these issues were not a factor in their lives. These Nimbies only financial concern was limiting any new government taxes or any other costs given their largely fixed retirement incomes (in addition to simply not wanting "their town" to change).

…I wish that the story above was just a work of fiction, but sadly, it is the truth. Besides the ending of the story. The good news is that the story about has yet to be fully played out. Yes, the investors are here with their billions. Yes, the opportunity for a better life and prosperity for Kingman is still here. But, we have a limited window to open the door to this green power industry and bring new hope and prosperity to our community .

On a positive note, I am seeing our elected officials start to take a strong stand against these Nimbies and provide leadership for the entire community. I urge all our citizens and business owners to organize and rally around our elected officials as critical decisions are at our door step. With strength and vision, we truly can welcome these green power industries, work towards a better future for all, and create a truly happy ending to this story.

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