Friday Funny: Scathing Satire of Anti-Development Rants at Public Hearings

A new satirical essay for McSweeney's provides a template for NIMBY opposition to planning and development, and does not pull any punches in the process.

2 minute read

June 14, 2019, 9:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Public Meeting

David Jackmanson / Flickr

In the most scathing, protracted satires of planning and development controversies this reader can recall, Chas Gillespie writes a speech imagined for "every NIMBY" at a public hearing.

The irony is laid on thick at every possible moment, such as the aperture:

Friends, neighbors, it’s good to see all of you. I know you, you know me, and just seeing all of your faces at this city council meeting reminds me why I love living in this town. Because I feel comforted by stasis and regularity, both fed by ignorance, and which combine to perpetuate injustice.

Gillespie also deals in absurdity, such as the imagined speech deliverer's list of cautionary tales:

Now that we’ve heard from all the members of the city council tonight, I think we as citizens need to make a few things clear. The first is, we aren’t Madison. We aren’t Boulder. We aren’t Terre Haute. So when I hear a member of the council saying, “Well, Waukesha made a few small but substantive changes in such-and-such an area and the results have been very promising empirically,” what that council member fails to understand is that we aren’t Waukesha. We aren’t Tacoma. We aren’t Amherst. We aren’t Portland, Maine. Are we Scottsdale? No, we are not. And so all this so-called “evidence” about how policies have worked in other towns simply does not apply to us. No evidence applies to us.

There's a lot more, and the essay will provide many planners, YIMBY or not, some commiserating effect in having encountered similar versions of the template laid out here on many occasions at public hearings. All of that irony and absurdity does highlights facts well known: that public hearings are dominated by populations males, far older, whiter, and more likely to own property that the general public.

As related to the source, this isn't the first time McSweeney's, a home for satire of all kinds with all kinds of targets, has fixed its barbs on NIMBYs. In October 2018, Michael Ward and David Rosow came up with a list of acronyms for suggested alternatives between NIMBY and YIMBY.

Thursday, June 13, 2019 in McSweeney's

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