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Virginia Postrel

Marc Andreessen’s Housing NIMBYism Is Losing Ground

The investor and his neighbors want to block multiunit construction in America’s most expensive town. But California’s reforms are gradually overriding such local opposition. 

Atherton tops the US richest-places list. 

Atherton tops the US richest-places list. 

Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Venture capitalist Marc Andreessen got caught last week engaging in housing hypocrisy. The author of a 2020 manifesto called “A Time to Build," Andreessen is a vocal opponent of NIMBYism. Yet when it came to his own town of Atherton, California, Andreessen signed a public comment opposing a plan to add 137 units of multifamily housing by rezoning nine lots. (The comment, written in the first-person singular and a style unlike Andreessen’s, seems to have been composed by his wife.)

An anonymous emailer sent links to the relevant documents and local press coverage to me and, apparently, to Jerusalem Demsas of the Atlantic. Her subsequent article concluded that Andreessen’s hypocrisy illustrates why housing reforms have to take place at the state level, where “officials are influenced by NIMBYs, but they have a much larger electorate to worry about and a mandate to address the cost of living and rising home prices, not just respond and implement local desires.”