(Editor’s note: This column is in response to one in this space last week — “Examining Advocacy” — that criticized NIMBY-ism.)
There are a plethora of issues and changes affecting Kirkland today. I can’t remember so many changes happening at once with the rail line, the McLeod project, Merrill Gardens and the “granddaddy” of them all, Parkplace. There’s not enough time for each and every one of us to become involved in all these issues. Activities with family and work consume our daily lives. At the same time, it’s important for Kirkland citizens to pay attention to the changes.
Jordan Lindstrom, editor of this newspaper, wrote an interesting opinion piece in last week’s Reporter in which he explored the roots of advocacy and NIMBY-ism. He had attended (as did I) the latest meeting about the proposed rail/trail with the Eastside Trail Advocates.
NIMBY-ism might have a negative connotation, but NIMBYs, the “not in my backyard” people mentioned in his article, have an important role in any municipality. People assume NIMBYs are only looking out for their own interests. When people are directly affected by a project, they tend to become involved. These people often live close by, or could be impacted financially by, a project. It’s human nature to get involved in issues that have a direct impact on your life — you typically aren’t involved in those that don’t.
The NIMBYs research the facts. The NIMBYs sort through the stories, attend meetings, talk to public officials and citizens, review reports and formulate a position based on the information. This education leads to the advocacy Jordan mentions. NIMBYs can’t afford to take an issue for granted. They can’t afford “knee-jerk” reactions. Every issue mentioned above has its NIMBY group advocating for or against a change based on an understanding of the issues. We need NIMBYs because they are an effective counter balance to other interest groups. NIMBYs help the community, as a whole, make good decisions.
It’s imperative to have thorough and impartial studies completed with any decision-making process. In the case of the commuter rail, as an example, the studies should demonstrate the actual number of riders, cost per rider, the full cost of developing the trail and rail line, the impact on neighborhoods, street traffic, individual safety and the environment. Whatever is decided must be the result of careful, thorough analysis, and not just a Band-aid “knee-jerk” reaction. This approach, this advocacy, and this NIMBY-ism on civic issues protects the public process and the interests of all citizens.
It helps keep the public informed, public officials accountable to their constituents, and, hopefully, the right decisions made.
~Long-time resident Debra Sinick runs local blog http://kirklandhighlandsrealestatebuzz.com from her Windermere Real Estate’s Yarrow Bay office. Reach her at email@example.com.