Sunday, January 24, 2010

NIMBYs and Hypocrites. Magnolia Glen and The Ashby High Rise.

Developers and architects have a word for irate neighbors: they’re called NIMBYs: “Not In My Back Yard”s. Anyone can be labeled a NIMBY. If you think your neighborhood already has too many homeless shelters, you’re a NIMBY. If you don’t want a high rise on your quiet street, you’re a NIMBY.

Hypocrisy is often behind the NIMBY cry. There are a million people who scream for property rights, but how many of them would build a skyscraper on their own street? Would they move their own families next door to a homeless shelter?

Hypocrisy certainly played a big role in the Magnolia Glen Homeless Shelter project. The President of the Houston Housing Corporation lives in Old Braeswood. The Houston Housing Corporation has its headquarters near Greenbriar and Highway 59. But they chose the Eastwood subdivision as a site for the Magnolia Glen.

The Ashby High Rise is not so different. The CEO of Buckhead Investment Partners lives in Southside Place, about a mile from the site of the Ashby High Rise. The President of Buckhead lives a little closer. But the Ashby High Rise will not cast shadows on either of their homes. It won’t add traffic to their streets. Buckhead Investment Partners will reap the profits of the Ashby High Rise, but won’t face the negatives.

Houston is a growing City. Development is inevitable, and if we’re not careful, there will be more fights like the Magnolia Glen and Ashby High Rise. A zoning ordinance is not the answer - there are alternative city ordinances that would be better. But ordinances won’t work without a change in attitude. Developers and architects need to stop crying “NIMBY” and start looking at the valid points raised by neighborhoods.

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