Instead of a tax on all manner of things we perceived as ‘wrong’ in housing, why don’t we tax anti-housing campaigners and their ilk?
If you are into housing you know what ‘NIMBY’ means, if you are a regular person it’s hit and miss and chances you don’t know what it means. It stands for ‘Not In My Back Yard’ and it describes a cohort of people who don’t want things like housing built near them, by extension it means people who campaign against housing for reasons such as
- The snob: It doesn’t fit with their preconceived notion of what ‘belongs’ in an area.
- The Goldilocks objector: it’s too big, too small, it should be juuuuust right.
- The Fool: We don’t need housing in (insert neighbourhood here).
- The high moral ground idealist: Housing should be (insert high moral ground or ideal here) not (insert real life here).
- The Jester: I’m really in favour of housing but…
- The Banana: ‘Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything.
- The Perfectionist: This needs to be better planned and therefore (insert parallel universe here)
- The Catastrophist: If we build this the environment will be decimated, the community will implode, world will end etc.
- The Prophet: If this is build I predict that (insert prophecy here — but don’t refer back to this after they are wrong).
- The arrogant but honest prick: I simply don’t want to share my amenities with X amount of new people, not the schools, roads, public transport or otherwise because in my opinion the area is already full enough.
NIMBY’s are a key creator of homelessness, even though they will hate to have that fair moniker applied to them. If you added up all of the homes that weren’t built, won’t be built, or that are being held up it would solve the supply required to end homelessness tomorrow.
That those homes aren’t built, won’t be built or will be delivered after huge delay and cost is the tragedy of a system that rewards financially unaffected third parties with rights unbecoming of them.
In fact, Ireland is one of the only countries to acknowledge third party property rights (a discussion for another day). That NIMBY’s can hold both the high moral ground and culpability for an issue simultaneously is a sleight of hand that which occurs due to middle-class and rich bias.
You see, most NIMBY’s own homes already so when they advocate against them they speak to an inherent bias in the people that set the public debate (who are also most often property owners). New supply which might lower prices is also a threat to their perceived geographic exclusivity.
Anywhere you have prices above intrinsic value it means there is an ‘owner occupiers premium’ being paid, the higher that is the more it’s a sign that an area could probably do with more supply because its obviously a great place to live.
That’s why we need a NIMBY tax, which in short should be that if you object to a development and the objection is ruled against that you should cover the costs of the affected parties for that objection, similar to what happens in courts regularly.
Perhaps objections should only be allowable for people with a proven connection to an area (evidenced by a signed undertaking, current utility bill and ID showing same).
Naturally, TD’s will step in were this to happen, but perhaps it should be the case that TD’s in their capacity as same shouldn’t be able to campaign on these matters, why do we even have local authorities if they are not going to be the competent authority in these matters?
Creating a cost to end actions perceived as ‘wrong’ is often toyed with for all manner of things from vacant sites to derelict housing, but those things are usually a passive event whereas objecting to housing is a very active participation action.
For this reason making the people who work tirelessly in housing prevention should come at a cost to those people, it’s at least some kind of conciliatory gesture towards the people who really pay the price of a lack of housing (the homeless and everybody renting).