‘Nimby’ poster causes social media fracas

This poster was apparently found in the Woodstock area on land allocated for the development of social housing.

A poster concerned about the building of social housing in Woodstock has sparked heated debate.

Residents shared the anonymous poster on social media, but it’s not clear where or by whom it was originally found.

It accuses the City of failing to consult residents about plans to build 900 low-cost housing units on a park across from the old Woodstock hospital, as well as on the old hospital site itself, by February next year.

It urges residents to send their concerns in writing to the City. Whoever drafted the poster notes, in fine print, that they are not against social housing, but against the City’s failure to consult residents.

Some of those who commented about it online argued it raised valid concerns about overcrowding in the area while others saw it as nothing more than an attempt to stop poor families moving in.

Reclaim the City labelled the poster “NIMBYism” – Not in my backyard.

“A Nimby is not someone who is against affordable housing that is a bigot. A Nimby is someone who says that they are fully in support of affordable housing but with endless conditions that must be met. Nimbys want to claim the moral higher ground and use arguments to avoid having to voice their real fears,” said the statement on the organisation’s Facebook page.

“They say, ‘I’m in favour but it’s too fast too soon, I’m in favour but it’s too high, I’m in favour but what about parking.’ We say, ‘I’m in favour, and so I’ll work with everyone to make this happen. I’m prepared to accept change because this is necessary for the greater good of our city.’ Nimbys claim to represent residents, but, in fact, they represent middle-class interests.”

Nadeem Essack said: “When gentrification displaced so many people who have lived here for decades, no one complained. Now, the City’s making way for the less well-off people and everyone is complaining. If the City was converting the whole Woodstock hospital into a dog playground, I’ll bet all these people objecting would gladly donate towards the development.”

Craig Mason-Jones said: “I don’t see it as binary. I welcome social housing, in Woodstock and elsewhere in the City. But I see that the City is putting all the social housing in Woodstock. Number of social housing units in Clifton precinct: zero. Tafelberg in Sea Point: uneconomical. Woodstock: 40% density increase at least.”

Brett Herron, mayoral committee member for transport and urban development, said it was “premature” to conclude that Woodstock would see unsustainable densification or that green spaces would be lost, as the deadline for development proposals was only at the end of February next year.

“We will host an exhibition where the residents and interested parties will be able to see what the bidders are proposing for each site. The public will have the opportunity to comment on the proposals. It is to be expected that there will be very different views and opinions on how we need to pursue a future where all of us – regardless of income or race – have more equitable and open access to opportunities.”

Mr Herron said he wanted to encourage debate on the issue and all residents should have a chance to air their views.

“Often the criticism from those opposing our initiatives drown out the support from those who agree that we cannot keep on locating low-income families on the fringes of Cape Town where they are far removed from work and transport. I have received comments and input that are both positive and less so.”

Confining low-income families to the fringes of the city was both “unsustainable” and “immoral”, he said.