In 2020, when the pandemic was going strong, billionaire Marc Andreessen turned heads by posting an essay on his company’s website titled “It’s Time to Build.”
“I expect this essay to be the subject of criticism,” he wrote expressing a mentality that has been called YIMBY, for “yes in my backyard”.
“You see it in homes and in the physical footprint of our cities,” he wrote. “We can’t build enough housing in our cities with increasing economic potential, which translates into a crazy increase in house prices in places like San Francisco, making it nearly impossible for ordinary people to move in and take on the jobs of the future.” So he expressed dissatisfaction with the state of urban architecture. “We should have gleaming skyscrapers and spectacular living environments in all our best cities at levels far beyond what we have now; Where are they?”
Andreessen also lives in Atherton, California, the richest city in America, which has held the title of the most expensive postcode in the United States for five consecutive years, according to data from Property Shark. Atherton also topped Bloomberg’s annual Riches Places Index for four years, until 2020. And as a prominent local, a new Atlantic report reveals he may be more of a NIMBY.
Andreessen, co-founder of venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, is known for being an early investor in major technology companies including Meta, GitHub, Skype and Twitter. In June, Andreessen and his wife Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen wrote an email expressing their opposition to a proposal that would increase zoning capacity for the construction of multi-family homes in Atherton.
“I am writing this letter to communicate our IMMENSE objection to the creation of multi-family coverage zones in Atherton,” the two wrote in their email, signed by both, as reported by The Atlanticof Jerusalem Demsas. “Please IMMEDIATELY REMOVE all multi-family zoning projects from the Housing Element which will be presented to the state in July. The values of our home, the quality of life of ourselves and of our neighbors will MAXIMUM decrease and noise pollution and traffic will increase IMMENSELY “.
The comment, also reviewed by Fortune, was released on July 14 by the Atherton Planning Department. Andreessen did not reply The Atlantic or Fortunethe request for comment.
In his original essay, Andreessen linked the need to build more housing to the American dream. “Things we build in large quantities, like computers and TVs, drop in price quickly,” she wrote. “The things we don’t do, like housing, schools and hospitals, skyrocket in price.” With owning a home beyond the reach of so many, she said, the American dream was in jeopardy.
His essay also included a call to action, citing the need to “break rapidly escalating price curves for housing, education and health care, to make sure every American can make the dream come true.” The only way to do this, he wrote, is to build.
Elsewhere in the Bay Area, pro-housing city council candidates are abandoning tenders because they can’t afford to live there, while the general lack of new construction projects has prompted others to seek innovative solutions. Atherton in particular has a problem with the staff of his firefighters and police departments because civil servants cannot afford to live there and are put off by long commutes. The Bay Area’s public transportation is rather underpowered, in addition to its homes.
Andreessen was far from the only Atherton resident to express strong opposition to the housing proposal. “Almost all the comments received expressed opposition to the use of coverage areas,” wrote the city planning department, publishing the list of public comments received on the subject.
In his 2020 essay, Andreesson pinned why there is a housing crisis on the issue of need. “The problem is desire,” she wrote, referring to the willingness to invest in large construction projects. “We have to * want * these things.”
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