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Jul-30-2012 15:20printcomments

PART II: Behold The Self-Righteous BANANA

BANANA: PART II in a 3 Part Series
BANANA: Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything….or Anyone


(LAGUNA BEACH, CA) - BANANA: (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything….or Anyone) Part 1 here

BANANAs might be comprehensible to readers as NIMBYs to the nth power. Think of them as small children who learn early on the immature and unreasonable power of “NO!” that can stop a parent dead in their tracks at the mall-----whereas “YES” doesn’t get much of a reaction.

So stomping their feet, holding their breath ‘til blue and screaming “NO!” in public gets everybody’s attention. The parent looks abusive or abrasive when it’s really a manipulative, unruly, selfish, out-of-control child. Me? Done there, been that. I majored in “NO” as a crib baby.

NIMBYs are sometimes called LULUs (Locally Unwanted Land Use) and can morph (I didn’t say “evolve”) into the NOPE category (Nowhere On Planet Earth)-----NOPEs are kind of like the meta-amphetamine fueled siblings of steroid-fueled BANANAs, and both exhibit rage-filled, paranoid tendencies. Every proposed project is a conspiracy. They rely on general public distrust of government and corporations as if rocket fuel.

As presented in my previous column, many NIMBYs don’t get their way and start foraging outward within their own local habitat or even adjacent, contiguous ones. Their mantra is perhaps best summed up in song from Groucho in a Marx Brothers movie “HORSEFEATHERS”:
I don't care what you have to say.

It makes no difference anyway;

Whatever it is, I'm against it!

Some NIMBYs get their way and go away, have brief lifespans----for some, however, once they taste the power of “NO!” they’re attention junkies for life. They crave an extension of their initial 15 minutes of fame and become (go) BANANAs. They’re hooked, and will stick their noses into other NIMBY ventures too---As long as the media print their picture and spell their names right.

It’s kind of Eco-Hollywood, they become legends in their own minds, media darlings craving the lights/camera/action schtick of rallies and public confrontations. These center stage junkies up the ante by demanding nothing new should be built anywhere.

They conveniently ignore the fact that hey, once upon a time, if a BANANA had opposed the sub-division where they reside and succeeded, they’d be living in a clunky old van or single-wide trailer down by a mosquito-laden, stagnant stream instead of an air-conditioned house.

Personally, I never made that quantum leap into hateful BANANA land. It’s way too binary for me as if every new project or rehab is a Manichean struggle of Goodness vs. Evil, Darkness vs. Light. Usually these battles are couched in “Fight The Power, Rage Against The Machine” metaphors I’m not comfortable with. Righteous, winner take all crusader games aren’t realistic.

As I noted in my previous column, once you demonize your opposition you really have no fall back position to negotiate concessions or exactions. Looked at as a “Barbarians at the Gate” metaphor, you’ve basically pushed the drawbridge up and burned the castle down to ashes. This off-with-their-heads, French Revolution paradigm might seem to be victorious, but it’s a Pyrrhic one. Killing projects to just be killing is ultimately counter-productive in many cases.

Yes, there ARE some really crappy projects, not just residential, urban sprawl sub-divisions but public works/utility ones. No one in south Orange County or northern San Diego is happy that the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station is so close to us, less than 20 miles away. Recent revelations indicate that it’s had major engineering flaws almost since going online decades ago. Ain’t no way that if compromised, hundreds of thousands of people (including invaluable Marines and Navy Seals at Camp Pendleton) would stand a snowball’s chance in Hell of escaping adverse health impacts.

The problem is categorical denial, across-the-board opposition that usually lines attorney and consultant pockets for both sides, fluffs PAC accounts and even the coffers of non-profit watchdogs---But that leaves craters of residual animosity, divides communities smack dab in the crosshairs at ground zero. Collateral damages can irrevocably fracture, and BANANAs can be vampires, they don’t live there, have children in local schools or have a business reliant upon neighbors---They have a luxury, they can feed and gorge themselves, then just go back safely to their homes fallout free.

Locals get used like condoms by BANANAs often, they cannot leave the fabric of their neighborhood, they have to clean up the mess, mend fences and heal themselves. The definitions, the lines in people’s minds between DEVELOPMENT and OVER DEVELOPMENT become blurred. Who's to say, how do you measure or define OVER? A BANANA will call hyperbolically everything and anything proposed as over development to drive their point home. Everything is viewed and portrayed through the biased prism lens of excess....forget that no one supports excess in anything. When BANANAs control the message platform they have no conscience.

As noted in PART I on NIMBYs regarding non-profit interventions, another phenomenon worth mentioning is that sometimes it’s the reverse, community NIMBYs reach out to BANANAs. This is where the major, high profile non-profits get their bread and butter, their sustainable funding. They file a Notice of Intent (NOI), settle either out-of-court for undisclosed sums ASAP or further down the line.

Seldom do the local NIMBYs get anything, and even activist BANANAs usually get nothing other than their anti-development bloodlust satiated. There is a virtual cottage industry sprung up around these litigious challenges, the final settlements sealed and no public transparency or accountability. Is this a great nation or what?

Unless we agree as a planet to cease having children for a decade, growth is going to happen, development will of necessity occur. I often wonder how many children or grandchildren BANANA leaders have, plus are they willing to stop reproducing themselves? You know, do as you say, not as you do. Even if the wealthy can afford them, their large families are going to have increasingly exponential demands, it’s simple math.

Mudmen or anti-development ancestors?

Because people need housing and utilities for the elements of sustainable life, we’re NOT going back to that original small tribal culture of 10,000 years ago that some Luddites peddle as idyllic. We’re not going back into caves, and neither are the emerging nations. And c’mon, going off the grid and hiding at night from tooth, fang and claw won’t appeal to BANANAs spoiled by the internet and wi-fi, cell phones and talking tablets, comfy cars and Starbuck’s coffee. That’s a type of hypocritical mentality---I got mine but you can’t have yours.

I’m not really certain that we’re “civilized,” I’m not even sure what that means anymore when I still see unchecked global brutality against innocents from corrupt political/military regimes. Civilization as we call it will need monolithic installations or rehabs of existing ones: More waste treatment plants to protect our health, more potable water treatment facilities, more prisons, more landfills, more hospitals, more school and government buildings, more energy-producing infrastructure, more resource development and exploration installations, more transportation venues, more retirement homes for baby boomers, etc. etc. etc. The list is virtually endless.

BANANAs must live in some bizarrely static and unchanging universe---Except the cosmos is a dynamic place, change is the one inevitable and perceivable fact for Earth’s inhabitants. How many BANANAs do you see driving cars made in 1920? No, they’re driving hybrids made in newly-built or re-configured car manufacturing plants, vehicles that required new R & D complexes that house engineers at work. It all becomes absurd once you drill down to the ideals parting company with reality.

Halting all development won’t work unless we stop reproducing for a quite a while, give Mother Nature a time out to catch Her breath. Goals should be realistic and achievable, these BANANAs just aren’t interested or buying that old engineering metric.

“Just say NO!” to drugs, alcohol, and abuse has been a groovy, advertising campaign with unfortunately questionable results. BANANAs who shout “NO!” to any and all development is another animal altogether, it preemptively and in some cases precipitously throws the baby out with the virtual bathwater. What sounds noble to a selfish few with axes to grind, with vengeance, media attention bordering on celebrity-hood and even personal profit foremost as their pirate’s flag, isn’t always what’s best for everyone.

PART III will be the conclusion of this series. I’ll try to deal with a specific example of über-BANANA and über-NIMBY thinking strategies, as NGOs gone wild regarding the controversial desalination plants in California under consideration. I’ll also provide specific examples of how non-profits leverage and milk the legal and regulatory systems, even the corporate project proponents, all for fame and fortune. It’s borderline blackmail and/or extortion in my brain.

This desalination conundrum has even polarized NGO members and pitted them against each other. I call these cynical critics of desalination Build Absolutely No Desalination Absolutely Near Anything”----BANDANAs. Stay tuned, this tragic-comedic play’s not over until the fat anti-development lady sings.

Other parts in this series:

Bandana: Part III in a 3 Part Series

FYI: If a project near you has some interesting enviro-aspect(s) that you think is/are worthy of coverage and our readers attention, feel free to contact me with a very brief synopsis. Water-related “Blue Interventions” are my specialty!


Launched in 2010, Odd Man Out is the creation of Roger Bütow and his OMO columns are written exclusively for Salem-News-com. Born and raised in the LA Harbor area, son of a German immigrant father, he moved to Orange County in 1965 and has lived in Laguna Beach since 1972. In 1998, he began his professional career in environmental review processes (CEQA, NEPA, MND, MND and EIR/EIS). He's a rare mix of cross-trained builder, writer and consultant as he brings his extensive construction experiences dating back to 1972 into his eco-endeavors. He has tremendous field and technical expertise in successful watershed restorations, plus wastewater, urban runoff, water quality monitoring/improvements and hydrologic mechanisms. He's built everything from commercial spas to award-winning private residences, and provided peer review and consultant analyses for single homes, subdivisions and upscale resorts.

View articles written by Roger Butow Read Roger's full biography on the Staff Page

His resumé is extensive, try an online GOOGLE search of his personal journey and historical accomplishments. His consultation fees are reasonable and if you've got a major project that alarms you, that needs creative intervention, then he's your man. His credentials and "CV" can be provided upon request.

Contact him at his office: (949) 715.1912 or drop him an email:




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Anonymous July 30, 2012 6:38 pm (Pacific time)

Banana, apples and oranges. "Waterless Natural Gas Fracking Method Unveiled" A planned shale gas drilling project in New York state has drawn global attention for its aim to make use of a waterless form of hydraulic fracking – a new technique designed to reduce the pollution associated with controversial natural gas drilling processes. Read more: waterless-natural-gas-fracking-method-unveiled.html#ixzz229ykf05F

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