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Housing

The NIMBY Principle

The advocacy group Livable California has led the resistance to the state’s biggest housing proposals. What's their appeal for “local control” really about?
Nowhere in America is the battle over single-family zoning more bitterly contested than the affluent suburbs of California's cities.
Nowhere in America is the battle over single-family zoning more bitterly contested than the affluent suburbs of California's cities.Mike Blake/Reuters

Susan Kirsch’s backyard is, predictably, beautiful. Past the sunny wooden patio, tomatoes, blueberries, and poppies blossom between rugged pathways. A birdbath draws sparrows to the center; a lemon tree drapes over the back fence.

But all is not perfect. Next door, her neighbors recently added a detached room, which peeks over the side fence and cuts off part of Kirsch’s view of Marin County’s rolling hills.