Recent NIMBY

The topic became my white whale. I came close to conquering it when I wrote Nimby Lane in 2015. Even then I joked about my problem, my seeming inability to write an article about the NIMBY phenomenon even after several attempts. NIMBY stood for "not in my back yard." In that earlier article we established that the acronym even appeared outside of the United States. Subsequent research also showed that it seemed to be transitioning from an all-caps NIMBY to a lowercase nimby. I think I’ll make that adjustment too.

It might be worth repeating the definition as listed in That could be helpful to readers who don’t speak English natively. It’s used to describe:

… opposition by local citizens to the locating in their neighborhood of a civic project, as a jail, garbage dump, or drug rehabilitation center, that, though needed by the larger community, is considered unsightly, dangerous, or likely to lead to decreased property values.

Anyway, the day finally arrived! Today I offer my nimby article at long last. The solution, once I discovered it, came easy. I simply typed nimby into Google and selected news. I chose examples only from the initial page of results as they appeared in front of me. Your results will vary.

I don’t mean to imply that any of these stories actually qualified as examples of nimby behavior. I’m not making value judgments. However, somebody though they did or the news articles never would have been published.

Falls Church, Virginia

Railroad Cottages
No to Railroad Cottages. My own photo.

Actually I noticed the first example in person before I ever saw it online. I spotted little placards stuck along the side of the Washington & Old Dominion trail as I biked through Falls Church a few days ago. They read, "No to Railroad Cottages." I didn’t give them another thought until my recent search results popped-up some commentary about them, Cottage Criticism is Just More NIMBY Opposition. I think Google fed it to me because of my geographic proximity.

The City of Falls Church provided more detail about the Railroad Cottages Project. Ten small standalone houses would cluster closely together around common open space and a social interaction building. It would cater to residents aged 55 years and older. The 1.3 acre triangular lot sat at the eastern end of Railroad Avenue, hugging the W&OD trail (map). Supporters cited it as an example of smart growth that also allowed city residents to downsize as they aged. Opponents worried about traffic, parking, density, noise, emergency response, displacement of flora and fauna, and diminished property values.

The lot also hid an interesting history. An African-American family purchased it just after the Civil War and retained ownership for the next 150 years. The man who sold the lot to developers was the great-great-great grandson of the person who first bought it for $75 in 1865.

Snow River, Kenai Peninsula, Alaska

Moose Pass
Moose Pass. My own photo.

Next I came across The NIMBY state on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula. Twelve Mile Circle visited the area back in 2010 so I paid particular attention. Huge numbers of people traveled down to the Kenai each summer for salmon fishing. Fishermen needed guides, equipment, food and places to stay, so tourism dollars fueled a huge part of the local economy.

People got angry when they heard that the Chugach Electric Association wanted to consider damming the Snow River (map) near Moose Pass. As the article noted, "Dam is a four-letter word worse than the f-word in that community." This one would reach 300 feet high and 700 feet across, too. Chugach Electric hoped to figure out whether a dam might actually increase salmon along the Snow River. Theoretically a better controlled river could improve spawning channels. However, that question will always remain a mystery. The public outcry forced Chugach Electric to abandon its effort. Citizens felt the risk to the local economy was too great.

Rainford, St Helens, Merseyside, England

Rainford - farm in the snow
Rainford – farm in the snow. Photo by Ian McFegan on Flickr (cc)

One person at least proclaimed she was Proud to be a Nimby in Rainford, England (map). This came in response to social media statements made by a member of the St. Helens Council. The Councillor remarked, "As I say you are nimby’s," referring to members of the Rainford Action Group. The group opposed turning over some of the village’s green belt to developers to build more than a thousand homes. It cited loss of agricultural land and jobs, as well as "extra pressure on our roads, surgeries, dentists, drains, or schools." The battle raged on.

Devonport, Auckland, New Zealand

Aukland from Across the Bay
Auckland seen from Devonport. Photo by Jeremy Oakley on Flickr (cc)

The nimby phenomenon existed in New Zealand too. There I found Nimby wars: everyone’s a winner in Devonport, or are they? Ryman Healthcare wanted to build a retirement village on a vacant parcel in suburban Aukland, along the scenic Ngataringa Bay (map). Opponents didn’t so much care for the design aesthetics, and they also feared the impact on endangered plants. Plus they claimed it would cut the neighborhood in half. This situation seemed to have resulted in a happier ending than most. Ryman Healthcare agreed to a number of design changes that pleased most, although not all local residents.

Maybe I’ll run this experiment again in a few months and see how much the results change. Maybe I won’t.

Even More Unusual Signs

It’s been about fourteen months since I posted an installment of odd signs that I’d encountered during my travels. I like unusual things whether they’re geo-oddities or other mundane things that seem out of whack. Occasionally I feel compelled to share them even if nobody else can summon the same level of amusement. If they cause you to smile then feel free to examine the earlier posts, Bad Signs and More Strange Signs.

I’ve added a map link for each photograph, attempting to place it as close to the exact spot as I can remember.

Maine Lobster Festival
Maine’s Rich Thai Heritage

I’ll bet this is the first time this sentence has ever been uttered: "Nothing represents Maine waterman culture like Thai food." Seriously though, I noticed this unusual juxtaposition at the Maine Lobster Festival in Rockland during the summer of 2009.

The festival centerpiece included a dining area covered by a huge tent. It featured a buffet line with lobsters pulled from local waters and dumped straight from trawlers into boiling kettles only moments earlier. Nonetheless the Thai food pavilion seemed to be doing a steady business. I suppose someone who happens to eat lobster every day might want to try something a bit different, something more exotic. I love Thai food and I find it it refreshing to witness the rich mosaic of cultures as it spreads throughout the nation but I still selected the lobster.

Rockland, Maine [map].

Only One Way Out -- Down
Going Down?

I took the elevator to the top of the Penobscot Narrows Bridge and Observatory later that same summer. The observatory is a fairly small rectangular area. It has two doors. One opens onto an elevator and the other a stairwell. With that in mind, this has to be the most useless emergency exit sign ever. The elevator would shut down in a fire so what other option would possibly exist besides the stairwell? Jump?

Near Bucksport, Maine [map]

Also see my Penobscot Narrows Bridge and Observatory page.

Birds Sanctuary
Humans Not Welcome

"Birds Only Beyond The Rope" wins my award for the most imaginative "Keep Off The Grass" sign ever written. It’s nice when bureaucrats show a sense of humor.

Fort C.F. Smith, Virginia [map]

Also see my Fort C.F. Smith page.

New Orleans Needs More Ferrys
New Orleans Needs Lots of Things

This one is a repeat from my trip down south earlier this year as presented in Deep South Epilogue. I spotted the poster at the in-town brewpub of the Abita Brewery. It pretty much speaks for itself.

Abita Springs, Louisiana [map]

Mold at Distillery
Maybe Just a Really Bad Mildew

I found myself at the Jack Daniel Distillery during that same southern trip. Distilling apparently creates the perfect environment for a dark mold that covers all exterior surfaces. Who knew? I suppose they felt compelled to explain the mold instead of looking like slobs. That wouldn’t do their image much good.

Lynchburg, TN [map]

Also see my Jack Daniel Distillery page.

Maintain the Speed Limit
My All-Time Favorite Road Sign

I loved this Alaska highway sign. It’s too bad the RV’s filled with clueless tourists ignored this and all similar signs. I would have loved to have seen one of them getting a ticket for going twenty miles below the speed limit leading a mile-long train of impatient drivers behind them in their wake.

Seward Highway, Kenai Peninsula, AK [map]

Tsunami Danger Warning
When You See a Big Wave — Run!

I also saw this one in Alaska. It’s posted in Seward. The city was hit by a tsunami after the famous 1964 earthquake. Eleven people died. Believe me, if suddenly the water begins to recede it’s time to run for the hills. The sign is absolutely accurate and appropriate.

Seward, AK [map]

Tree Grows Entirely Around a Wire
Stringing a New Wire Would Have Been Too Much Trouble

I’m allowed to post one photograph that isn’t a sign, right? I found this situation absolutely hilarious. A tree branch grew around a power line. The electric company removed the tree but left the chunk with the wire hanging in the air!

Nauck Neighborhood, Arlington, VA [map]

West Coast Sunrises over Water

We’ve been having great fun with comments posted on my recent entry, East Coast Sunsets over Water. Matthew[1] kicked things off when he wondered whether the opposite condition might exist anywhere within the United States, a West Coast sunrise over water. Scott Schrantz,[2] who has followed the Twelve Mile Circle for awhile, later solved the mystery by providing definitive evidence.

I’ve been out of town all week but now that I’m back I’ve been able to review the candidates and offer an assessment. First, lets take care of the obvious. Hawaii. Yes, it’s in the middle of the Pacific Ocean so there’s going to be lots of places where the sun rises over water. Also Alaska:

View Larger Map

Much of land along the western edge of the Gulf of Alaska — Kenai Peninsula, Alaska Peninsula and down to the Aleutian Islands — would have unobstructed eastern views. Some of the crags on the peninsulas along Alaska’s western coast and various nobs and bumps along the northern slope might also qualify when the water isn’t frozen.

Then things get difficult. There are two major geographic conditions with the western coast states of the Lower 48 (Washington, Oregon and California) that inhibit this phenomenon:

  1. There aren’t many significant peninsulas or other protrusions jutting from the mainland and there’s a distinct lack of barrier islands offshore.
  2. A series of tall mountains, the various Pacific Coastal Ranges, run all the way from Alaska to Mexico. Mountains extend the horizon considerably so that someone will have to be much further away over water to no longer see land.

Efforts focused on the the northwestern corner of Washington, the Olympic Peninsula. It’s the only sizable peninsula along the western coast so it seemed like a worthy candidate. However sunrises would definitely be impacted by the Cascades Range that rarely dips below 5,000 feet. Referring to Wikipedia’s horizon chart, a viewer would have to be at least a hundred miles west of the Cascades to no longer see a continuous ridge across the horizon in clear weather. This completely eliminated anything along the western shore of Puget Sound.

I thought, well perhaps the Strait of Georgia might hold promise. There’s little of the United States with an eastern view along the strait, but Point Roberts, one of my favorite geo-oddities does have the proper positioning. No dice, though. It’s still too close to the Northern Cascades. That was confirmed by a photo I found on Picasa. It’s a gorgeous sunrise and substantially over water but we’re looking for perfection here, 100% over water. Sorry, Point Roberts, you’re eliminated.

The Strait of Juan de Fuca became another likely candidate. This separates the Olympic Peninsula from Canada’s Vancouver Island. It’s long and broad, and held the promise of uninterrupted horizons. However it runs southeast so an overwater sunrise would likely be dependent upon both the positioning of the surrounding landmass and the time of the year. Scott Schrantz posed and confirmed the theory by finding conclusive evidence of a sunrise over water at Port Angeles on Flickr.

Port Angeles Eastern Horizon

Here I’ve attempted to recreate a similar scene from the Port Angeles city dock using Google Earth. This image faces directly towards the eastern horizon at eye-level with 3D turned on. I’ve added the sun just south of east to approximate the date of the Flickr photo, March 6. From this I can deduce that while the headland is visible to the right, the shoreline plain forming Dungeness Bay must be below the horizon since otherwise the sun would be rising over it. We can speculate that sunrise over water would definitely occur between the vernal equinox (late March) and the autumnal equinox (late September) for sure, plus probably another month on either end. Theoretically the situation should only improve as one moves further along the top of Olympic Peninsula towards the Pacific Ocean since it takes a decidedly northwestern slant after Port Angeles.

I could find only one other spot along the coast where I positively identified a sunrise over water: the Channel Islands off of southern California. The mountains behind Los Angeles could be seen from the preponderance of on-line photographs from Catalina Island and its primary town, Avalon. However I did find this single example on Flickr. I think it’s probable that it occurs only during certain parts of the year when the angles line up just right, similar to what we discovered on the Olympic Peninsula.

Indeed there are west coast sunrises over water, however they are relatively rare compared to their reverse counterparts on the east coast. This was a fun entry to compile and I particularly enjoyed the group effort. If anyone has other topics to explore, please feel free to post them and we can get the discussion started again.

[1] Matthew writes the prullmw weblog. One of his interests is what he calls "concept travel" which seems to track pretty close to what I call "strange geography." For example, see his article on The Sovereign Military Order of Malta (SMOM).
[2] Scott Schrantz publishes several guides and blogs including and The Computer Vet. The latter one is his "miscellaneous" file where you’re more likely to see geo-weirdness or anything else that strikes him as offbeat. In that vein, he has a recent entry on Boulder City, Nevada, Las Vegas’ overlooked neighbor.