Ah, nimbyism

I live in a high-profile, high-traffic building in one of Manhattan’s busiest hubs. One would think that the residents of my building had an inkling what to expect, moving as they did into a high-rise buttressed by Union Square Park, a subway station, a bus stop, three bars, a nightclub, a Starbucks and an NYU dorm, not to mention the abundant commerce that takes place in the area.

Instead of rationalization and problem-solving, though, my neighbors are quick and content to dissolve into complaints and nimbyism. I belong to a mailing list (three, actually) for building residents, and this is the discourse that has taken place the past 48 hours:

I live in a high-profile, high-traffic building in one of Manhattan’s busiest hubs. One would think that the residents of my building had an inkling what to expect, moving as they did into a high-rise buttressed by Union Square Park, a subway station, a bus stop, three bars, a nightclub, a Starbucks and an NYU dorm, not to mention the abundant commerce that takes place in the area.

Instead of rationalization and problem-solving, though, my neighbors are quick and content to dissolve into complaints and nimbyism. I belong to a mailing list (three, actually) for building residents, and this is the discourse that has taken place the past 48 hours (emphases added):

Message: “Does anyone have any suggestions about how to stop the breakdancers from their nightly performance – blasting their stereo – at the south end of Union Square Park? I have tried calling repeatedly both 311 and directly to the 13th precinct, only to be told some variant of ‘we’re too busy’ each time.”

Reply 1: “Let me add my exasperation at the noise that those of us facing 15th St hear from the clubs. … Is there nothing to be done?”

Reply 2: “What’s particularly bad (besides the crowd noise and honking taxis) from Irving Plaza on East 15th Street are the tour buses of the performing groups, which are (illegally) kept running for long stretches. I’ve called 311, the police arrive, the crowd disperses, the police leave…and the crowd comes back. The police do nothing about the buses! And they do nothing about the loud bass thumping coming from INSIDE the club, though closed doors and walls! We can’t keep the bedroom window open in the spring and summer.”

Reply 3: “I add my voice to the roar about the buses, diesel fumes, and screaming drunks on the sidewalk, plus the bass from Belmont Lounge on Sunday ‘night’ — which truly doesn’t let up until 4 AM; it’s unreal.”

Now for the reality check. This is New York, and this is a busy, busy area of New York. This city will always have—should always have—clustered bars and jumping nightclubs and hubbub in public spaces. I’m not a bargoer, a clubgoer, or a breakdancer, but I believe in each entity’s absolute right to be and do.

While I’m not a fan of the noise outside my window, I accept it as my home’s burden, and explore solutions for my own personal happiness (City Windows, for example). What I don’t do is whine to 100 neighbors I don’t know, nor do I complain publicly. The last thing I want is for my building to generate a reputation as a bunch of, say, thankless whiners, and have the city’s public servants (police, fire, mail, government) lose interest in currying its favor.

Folks, if you don’t like it, do something about it on a level you can control. And keep my mailing address’s good name out of it.