It’s Not About You

November 16, 2010 at 1:45pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Kudos to residents near 27th and Old Cheney for putting up a fuss and winning several improvements and changes to the proposed CVS project on the northwest corner. I was starting to think they had acted too late. I guess I was wrong.

I do want to point out that several area residents engaged in one fallacy that’s all too common in these sorts of battles: the classic “I don’t want/need it, so nobody wants/needs it” argument. For example one woman is quoted in today’s LJS article as saying “I’m not that sick. I don’t need eight pharmacies within six minutes of my house.” It doesn’t work that way. Similar businesses often intentionally cluster themselves. And whether or not that’s what’s going on here, the fact is 27th and Old Cheney is an extremely desirable intersection.

An argument like “I don’t need it so it shouldn’t go there” is lazy. So what, you may ask? Lazy arguments in situations like this reek of nimbyism. Outsiders—that is, those not directly affected by the situation—don’t respond very warmly to nimbyism, in part because they know full well they don’t want the project in their backyard either. Better yours than mine! If you want to get more people on board, and thus increase your odds of accumulating enough pressure to get what you want, you need to find ways to appeal to a broader audience. In this case claims like “CVS is involved in meth manufacturing!” and “Traffic jams are inevitable!” are much more likely to resonate outside the neighborhood.

I’m not specifically picking on these neighbors. Nimbyism is rampant around these sorts of projects, sometimes for perfectly good reasons. But nimbyism rarely generates sympathy. Play a stronger hand if you want wider support.

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The Comments

Jeff R November 16, 2010 at 4:07pm

“Similar businesses often intentionally cluster themselves”

So true.  It actually seems that CVS’s market research consists of “Where can we put a store that’s right next to a Walgreens?”

holy hannah! November 16, 2010 at 5:33pm

Isn’t a developer who proposes a bad project in someone else’s neighborhood guilty of NIMBYism as well? The developer is comfortable with dumping a dumb idea in someone else’s back yard, but the developer’s neighbors and the developer would not put up with a similiar project in their own neighborhood. Why is no one asking the developer how many pharmacies the developer has in his backyard?

meatball November 16, 2010 at 7:33pm

Bad project? I think it’s a fine project. It will be nice to have an alternative to Walgreen’s a little closer to where I live. And the developer’s willingness to listen to its future neighbors, bend over backwards, and incorporate many of their suggestions has made it even better.

Do you really believe any developer thinks they are developing dumb ideas? Do you really think they say, “Boy, this is really stupid. Let’s go stick it in these peoples’ back yard. They’ll really hate it”? I’m guessing that most developers’ goal would be to be successful. Developing dumb ideas probably won’t get them there, no matter where they put them.

Why is no one asking some of those opposed why they believe it is government’s job to determine how many of any certain type of business is too many? By that logic, it should go the other way, too. I should expect that the city provide me with an Outback Steakhouse and a Wendy’s and maybe a Piezano’s near 27th & Pine Lake. We certainly don’t have enough of those businesses at a location that is convenient for me.

Moses November 16, 2010 at 7:38pm


It is not as if 27th and Old Cheney is in the country.  That has been a busy intersection for many years.  Like when someone buys a house next to an airport and complains because there is too much noise.

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