In 2020, Marc Anderson wrote an excellent critique of NIMBYism titled “It’s time to build” Here’s a quote:
You just don’t see this smug complacency, this satisfaction with the status quo and this reluctance to create in the pandemic or in health care in general. You see this throughout Western life, and especially throughout American life.
You see it in housing and the physical footprint of our cities. We can’t build nearly enough housing in our cities with growing economic potential — resulting in insanely skyrocketing housing prices in places like San Francisco, making it nearly impossible for regular people to move in and get jobs of the future. We can no longer build cities ourselves. When the producers of HBO’s “Westworld” wanted to depict a futuristic American city, they didn’t shoot in Seattle or Los Angeles or Austin — they went to Singapore. We should have glittering skyscrapers and spectacular living environments in all our best cities at a higher level than we have now; Where are they?
I’m not sure where those shiny skyscrapers are, but they’re definitely not in Atherton, an affluent Silicon Valley suburb with “growing economic potential.” here the atlantic:
Atherton, California is the most expensive zip code in America and is primarily reserved for very large homes (minimum lot sizes range from a third of an acre to 1 acre). The Planning Department has proposed modestly increasing Atherton’s zoned capacity, legalizing the construction of smaller, multi-family properties in some places — a total of a little more than 130 units by 2031.
Andreessen and his wife, Laura Arrillaga-Andreesen, a philanthropist, apparently voiced their opposition to the public comment in an email to the mayor and city council, which read in part:
Subject line: Oppose multifamily development!
I am writing this letter to express our huge objection to the creation of a multifamily overlay zone in Atherton … Please immediately remove all multifamily overlay zoning projects from the housing element that will be submitted to the state in July. They will greatly reduce our home values, the quality of life for ourselves and our neighbors, and greatly increase noise pollution and traffic.
I’ll reserve judgment until I hear the other side of the story. But one thing is clear; The following hypothetical statement will not constitute a satisfactory explanation:
In general we need to relax the zoning and build a lot more housing, but Atherton is not a good place for new housing.
The richer the area, the greater Facilitates construction of more housing. America would benefit from more bright skyscrapers in Atherton. I doubt even Atherton would benefit.
Rest assured. Note that the original proposal was to build 130 housing units in the entire city. We are not talking about Manhattan or Singapore. Atherton will still be Atherton.