Jump to Navigation
Jump to Content

Fields of Dreams: An Economic Democracy Framework for Addressing NIMBYism

March 2019

Citation: 49 ELR 10264

Issue: 3

Author: Ori Sharon

Local opposition to development of socially desirable facilities is one of the most important policy challenges in the United States. Despite decades of effort, a formula to reduce “Not in My Back Yard” (NIMBY) opposition is yet to be found. Cash payments, inclusive deliberation, benefits negotiations, and statutory mandates are only a few of the policy and legislative measures that have been attempted. This Article offers a different approach. Disempowerment is one of the main drivers of NIMBY sentiments. People oppose certain developments largely because they feel a lack of control over decisionmaking procedures that directly affect their lives. Ownership, the author explains, empowers. When a resource is owned by a community, the community possesses the power to set the agenda for the resource. It follows that if communities own, develop, and manage socially desirable facilities, NIMBY sentiments will be attenuated. To test this hypothesis, the Article explores two recent successful examples of communal ownership—the development model for windfarms and the U.K.’s Community Right to Build reform. Both demonstrate the potential of communal ownership to mitigate NIMBY sentiments and provide valuable legal and policy lessons for addressing NIMBY.

Ori Sharon is an Environmental Interface Fellow at Israel’s Ministry of Finance. He has an LL.M. (2013) and an S.J.D. (2018) from Duke University School of Law.

Download Article >>>