Veteran city transportation official Rina Cutler uses four acronyms to describe public participants who tend to get involved in big urban projects. Of course there’s NIMBY. There’s also BANANA: Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anyone. In Philadelphia, where she served as transportation chief from 2008 to 2015, she learned two more: CAVE (Citizens Against Virtually Everything) and NOPE (Not on Planet Earth).
Obstructionism is all too common in community discourse. But sometimes project opposition isn’t the result of selfishness but rather a reflection that public officials have failed to maintain a clear, open, and regular dialogue. Take the case of Philly’s South Street Bridge—a reconstruction project that unfolded over more than a decade, during a period when the downtown and university neighborhoods directly impacted by the new span were transforming themselves.