If we're honest, there's a bit of Nimby in all of us.
We want hospitals, power stations, rubbish dumps and motorways, and we understand the need for state houses, jails and halfway houses. But not up the road or next door, thanks very much.
It's always been that way, and always will be. Hypocrisy? You could say that, but it's entirely understandable.
Shouting "Nimby" has become a sneering put-down, like the taunt of "rednecks" to those who offer a view off the liberal path. The jibes are great debate stiflers, designed to discredit and goad and embarrass to silence.
But aren't Nimbys - those who will stand up, often selfishly, and take on authority - part of the character of our democracy? Isn't it a little invigorating to have people who speak out for themselves and their community, even if it may be largely out of self-interest? Isn't that better than just rolling over and accepting your fate?
The business world would call the good folk of Arch Hill in central Auckland a bunch of Nimbys for daring to challenge the right of Bunnings to do what they wanted with their latest store. But it's their neighbourhood: they have the right to voice their protest, and have earned concessions from the Environment Court.
Across Auckland there are always pockets of Nimbyism sprouting as the state, local authority and commerce try to impose their will. In Mt Albert, the community is starting to fight back against Housing New Zealand plans to develop an 8000-plus sq m block of land, and already "Nimby" has been tossed around.
The land is a little out of Mt Albert's "golden triangle", but it's a heritage area of $1 million homes nonetheless, though scarcely socially elitist. For the past 40 years or so, the community has co-existed happily enough with the tenants of 34 small (mostly one-bedroom) Housing NZ units taking up a small part of the park-like grounds in Asquith Ave.
But the department stopped taking tenants as the units became dilapidated and, for the past nine months or so, they have been boarded up.
Local people have been kept largely in the dark over the future of the land as Housing NZ stuck to the line "we are considering our options".
Those options - selling the land to a developer, turning it into a full state housing project, or producing a mix of state and privately owned houses - became a little clearer when the land was designated a Special Housing Area.
That gives the department the right under present rules, with consent, to build 40 two-storey homes of much greater size than the existing units.
But that's just the beginning. The department has filed a submission under the draft Unitary Plan to increase the density to 80 multi-storey properties or more, with rights of objection or even review restricted to immediate neighbouring properties.
Locals fear they will indeed do that, and ride roughshod over their concerns - a suspicion reinforced by Housing NZ's reluctance to reveal their hand.
All the evidence is that a large-scale, high-density development is inevitable. Why would the department settle for a mere 40 properties when the value of the land - $7 million to $8 million, say real estate agents - requires, under any logical economic modelling, greater density? Perhaps as high as 90 or 100 units.
Meanwhile, as consents to demolish the existing units have been filed and architects appointed, locals are apprehensive they will eventually be presented with a fait accompli that ignores their pleas for restraint.
Housing NZ will say they are honouring the need to consult, but it has been handled in a desultory way. Getting answers has been like drawing teeth.
With little confidence in the department's qualities as a landlord showing concern for neighbours, it's not surprising locals are uneasy. They don't see themselves as Nimbys, though they realise others may.
A 40-unit mix of state and privately owned housing, leaving some of the trees and grassed areas intact, would be acceptable to most. But an 80-unit state housing development with the potential to change the face of a heritage neighbourhood of graceful 100-year-old bungalows - no matter how strong your social conscience, who would want that?
Nimbyism, when it means people who act as guardians for their community against forceful bureaucracy, has its place. Fortunately it is alive and well in Mt Albert.
Bruce Morris, a former deputy editor of the Herald, lives in Mt Albert, though away from the planned development.