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Fair fight? In the Real Deal, "NIMBYs" ($1.15M budget) vs. "YIMBYs" ($26.9M); one "NIMBY," DDDB, isn't even fundraising

The Real Deal, that industry-friendly real estate magazine, offers in its November issue NYC’s NIMBY posse: A roundup of the city’s most influential neighborhood organizations fighting developers.

But the most salient facts are here in this graphic I compiled at right, comparing the budgets and staff sizes of selected so-called "NIMBYs" (Not in My Back Yard) and "YIMBYs" (Yes in My Back Yard).

Note that the YIMBYs surely do not devote all their budgets to development fights, and that the YIMBY list ignored organizations like the powerful Real Estate Board of New York.

Also ignored are YIMBY developers, who can muster political contributions, lobbying, and public relations efforts.

As the budget totals suggest, there are only two "NIMBYs" with significant budgets and staff, and they are far smaller than the YIMBYs.

The article suggests that some of the groups actually go farther than the literal definition of NIMBY--no, not because they have valid points of view, but because "some have pushed to protect whole swaths of the city, successfully curtailing development projects and swaying public opinion." Quelle horreur. (Also see my post on the issues raised by the NYU expansion.)

What about DDDB

It's interesting that one mention goes to Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, which is barely active--and, in its activity, has joined several other groups--Brown Community Develop Corp;, BrooklynSpeaks, FUREE, and Fifth Avenue Committee--in actions surrounding the arena opening, under the rubric AYCrimeScene.com.

The article states:
In late September, the Barclays Center at Atlantic Yards opened to much fanfare. But Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn and other groups wanted to hammer home a message: Developer Forest City Ratner promised jobs and housing along with the basketball.
Develop Don’t Destroy is considered the most visible opponent of the massive project, but cofounder Daniel Goldstein explained that, with the first phase of the development complete, the nonprofit is shifting its focus. “We’re more interested in the longterm macro issues of what’s going to happen with this site,” said Goldstein, who advises other Brooklyn nonprofits and is working on a memoir about Atlantic Yards, but declined to discuss his day job.
That doesn't sound particularly NIMBY, does it?

The article suggests that DDDB "racked up some impressive victories, including pressuring the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which owned the 22-acre site, to request alternative proposals for the land in 2005." Council Member Letitia James also applied significant pressure and, really, both were just trying to get the MTA to do its job.

More impressive is that DDDB contacted other developers and got one, Extell, to compete, ultimately bidding three times as much cash as Forest City but seeing the MTA deem the former's bid better and negotiating solely with Forest City.

DDDB lawsuits

The article states:
The group also filed six lawsuits, challenging the use of eminent domain, the soundness of the environmental review and a renegotiated agreement between Forest City Ratner and the MTA.
Though the group met with mixed success in the courts, an appeals court ruled this past June that the developer and the state must conduct an environmental impact study, since the project is now estimated to take 25 years instead of 10. (Forest City Ratner appealed the decision, but New York State’s highest court declined to hear the appeal.)
Yes, "mixed success," but given that courts almost always defer to government agencies, the latter victory was significant.

What now?

The article concludes:
Today, the group is a streamlined operation: The all-volunteer staff of about four or five is no longer working full-time on the issue, and they have not raised funds in about a year, Goldstein said. (In fiscal year 2009, the group raised about $162,000, according to figures from nonprofit data provider GuideStar.)
Moreover, the group is now focusing on a “political effort” that, in part, hinges on the environmental review. Since the review requires studying alternatives to Forest City Ratner’s plan, and since the company has not closed on all of the land at Atlantic Yards, Develop Don’t Destroy is hoping to persuade state officials to renegotiate their development agreement with the company.
The goal is to have the state issue RFPs for the remainder of the site and to have multiple developers finish Atlantic Yards.
“The struggle over the rest of the site, and what happens there, is really the long-term, ongoing struggle that our group … and other groups are going to have to deal with for a very long time,” Goldstein said.
Is that NIMBY, really? And is this group, and its allies, in a fair fight with the YIMBYs?

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