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Noah Smith

The NIMBY Backlash Against Amazon’s HQ2

Even factoring in the tax breaks, New York and Virginia will still benefit from Amazon’s expansion.

Prime real estate.

Prime real estate.

Photographer: Bloomberg/Bloomberg

Splitting Amazon’s second headquarters between Queens and the Virginia suburbs of Washington was probably not the best decision from a social perspective. Added traffic will strain already crowded local infrastructure, and New York and Washington are already highly productive cities with thriving technology economies. For the country as a whole, Amazon’s decision represents a missed opportunity.

That said, critics of HQ2 go too far when they paint the investment as a disaster for local residents. The backlash has been immediate, with some community groups vowing to fight the expansion. The objections can be grouped into three basic categories, neatly summarized in a series of tweets from Representative-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, whose district includes part of Queens.