Study: developers need to start organizing online; opponents are!

The Saint ReportNIMBY, Politicians and Planning, saintblogLeave a Comment

By Owen Eagan and Jay Vincent,
The Saint Consulting Group 

InternetOur company, Saint Consulting, recently conducted a study to assess the extent to which community groups were utilizing Facebook to oppose real estate development projects. The results should provide a wake-up call to developers.

Using a set of strict research criteria, Saint Consulting found a significant number of community groups conducting well-organized opposition campaigns online. Not surprising to us, we also found that these opposition campaigns outnumbered support campaigns by a ratio of 9 to 1. These virtual campaigns consist of many of the same elements of traditional offline grassroots campaigns.

For instance, the greatest challenge of any campaign is targeting your voters and developing lists of supporters. With more than 250 million active users on Facebook, this social network tool provides citizens with a means of more effectively and efficiently connecting with like-minded individuals and sharing information about development projects.

Many other offline tactics have migrated to the Internet as well. For example, door-to-door canvassing and petitioning activity can now be done from the convenience of one’s living room or the local Starbucks with one’s mobile device. It is clear from our research that using social media to oppose real estate development projects will likely be a popular trend going forward. It is also clear that, in addition to their offline campaigns, developers now need to wage online campaigns to combat the effectiveness of these groups.

Owen Eagan is senior vice president for transportation, The Saint Consulting Group, email

Jay Vincent is regional vice president – Midwest, The Saint Consulting Group, email


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