One thing I have come to realize about working in Raleigh is that you will participate in A LOT of public meetings. In part because it is smart practice, but mostly because Raleigh’s Zoning Ordinance requires some level of public participation. These meetings tend to become truly interesting when the new development comes in the form of higher density housing, commercial/retail use, or mixed-use buildings…essentially, anything that isn’t a park or single-family home. Any of these will almost certainly exhibit some component of NIMBYism – Not In My Back Yard – from the surrounding neighbors. Or you may recognize it as the acronym BANANA (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything). Regardless of what you call it, it is a fair assessment that public participation meetings will showcase some form of opposition.
The frequency with which NIMBYs/BANANAs appeared at public meetings was not what truly got me thinking about this; instead, it was my awareness of the local flavor at the DHM office. Our office in Raleigh is located approximately 500’ from the city’s Central Prison and 300’ from a Homeless Services Center. On a winter day, I can literally see the guard tower from our parking lot and have come to know some of the homeless on a first name basis. If you were searching for a new home and I gave you these two facts alone, you would probably think twice about purchasing in the area. And yet, it is probably one of the most diverse, “hippest” (yes, I just said hippest) areas to be in, with restaurants, bars and new residential developments sprouting up every month (or so it seems). So then, what gives? If an area so close to a prison and homeless center can have such a nice feel to it, why all the opposition to so many other developments?