The acronym NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) has become widely used to describe the attitude and reaction among the local population protesting the introduction of something unwanted in their community. It is a reaction or attitude towards any project, such as the siting of a hazardous enterprise or affordable housing projects, that is perceived to pose a threat to health or safety, status or reputation of a neighborhood or geographical area. NIMBYism can take the form of a protest against authorities or industry by the formation of action groups comprised by local residents. This response by the local population derives from a variety of reasons, including: a sense that they are being overrun by the authorities or industry to a genuine concern for the health and safety of residents of the community. In examples of NIMBYism, the context of each specific situation determines the driving force behind community action.
Other acronyms that are often used in conjunction with NIMBY are LULUs (Locally-unwanted-land-uses), PIBBY (Put it in Blacks’ backyards), and to a lesser extent NIMTOF (Not in my term of office). LULUs include facilities that may be socially desirable, obviously needed or legally required but nobody wants in his or her backyard. Such facilities include half-way houses, correctional facilities, homeless shelters, high-voltage power lines, hazardous waste treatment and disposal facilities, landfills and incinerators, low-income housing—especially in affluent neighborhoods—wastewater treatment plants, and municipal solid waste landfills.
Since nobody seems to want these facilities in his or her backyard, governments, industries and developers tend to site the facilities in communities that offer the “least resistance”—that is, communities that have the least political and economic clout. Quite often, critics claim, the choice of the sites for these facilities is racially-motivated. Therefore, they argue that problematic sites are disproportionately located in minority and low-income neighborhoods. They refer to such sites with the acronym PIBBY (Put it in Blacks' backyard). Such planning practices are the basis for the concept of environmental racism. The resistance to the placement of LULUs may involve not just the residents but also the elected officials representing the affected communities, hence the term NIMTOF.
The term backyard can be variously defined as a neighborhood or local community, local government area, a city or even a state. For example, the opposition to the proposed siting of a hazardous waste facility in Mobile, Arizona initially came from the local residents who contended that the facility was being located in their backyard. However, when it was later reported that the bulk of the hazardous waste to be treated and disposed of at the facility would come from California, the state (Arizona) residents opposed the facility contending that it was being placed in their “backyard”, and therefore unacceptable. Hence the same facility moved from being in the backyard of Mobile residents to being in the backyard of the residents of the State of Arizona. In another example, the proposed nuclear waste repository in Yucca Mt., Nevada is considered as not just being in the backyard of the communities near Yucca Mt. but in the “backyard” of the state residents, hence the opposition of the State of Nevada to the proposed siting of the facility at Yucca Mountain. These critics of the project argue that the placement of a nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain may stigmatize the State of Nevada and therefore adversely affect the state's tourism industry.
- Ibitayo, O. O. (2002). Public-private partnerships in the siting of hazardous waste facilities: The importance of trust. Waste Management & Research, 20:212-222.