In 2020, as the pandemic ramped up, billionaire Marc Andreessen caused a stir by posting an essay titled “It’s Time to Build” on his company website.
“I anticipate that this essay will be the subject of criticism,” he wrote, while expressing a mindset now dubbed YIMBY for Yes In My Backyard.
“You can see it in housing and the physical footprint of our cities,” he wrote. “We can’t build nearly enough housing in our thriving cities — which is leading to insanely skyrocketing home prices in places like San Francisco, making it almost impossible for ordinary people to move in and take the jobs of the future.” Then he pressed his Dissatisfaction with the state of the city architecture. “We should have gleaming skyscrapers and spectacular living environments in all our best cities at a level far beyond what we have now. where are they?”
Andreessen also lives in Atherton, California, America’s wealthiest city, which has held the title of America’s most expensive ZIP code for five straight years, according to Property Shark. Atherton also topped Bloomberg’s annual Index of Riches Places for four years through 2020. And as a prominent local citizen, new reports from Atlantic show he could be more of a NIMBY.
Andreessen, co-founder of venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, is known for being an early investor in big tech companies like 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 building multi-family housing in Atherton.
“I am writing this letter to communicate our IMMENSE objection to the creation of multi-family overlay zones in Atherton,” the two wrote in their mutually signed email, it was reported The Atlantic‘s Jerusalem Demsas. “Please IMMEDIATELY REMOVE from the housing element any multi-family overlay zoning projects that will be submitted to the state in July. They will massively reduce our living standards, the quality of life for us and our neighbors and increase noise pollution and traffic IMMENSELY.”
The comment also checked by wealth, was released by Atherton’s planning department on July 14. Andreessen did not answer The Atlantic or wealth‘s request for comment.
In his original essay, Andreessen linked the need to build more housing to the American dream. “The things we build in bulk, like computers and televisions, fall in price quickly,” he wrote. “The things we don’t need, like homes, schools and hospitals, are skyrocketing.” With owning a home that is out of reach for so many, he said, the American Dream is in jeopardy.
His essay also included a call to action, citing the need to “break the rapidly escalating price curves of housing, education and health care to ensure every American can achieve their dream.” The only way to do that, he wrote, is to build.
Elsewhere in the Bay Area, housing-friendly city council candidates are dropping out because they can’t afford to live there, while the general lack of new development spurs others to seek innovative solutions. Atherton has a particular problem staffing its fire and police departments, as officers cannot afford to live there and are deterred by the long commute. Public transportation in the Bay Area is rather underdeveloped next to their accommodations.
Andreessen was far from the only Atherton resident who spoke out strongly against the housing proposal. “Nearly all of the comments received were against the use of overlay zones,” the city’s planning department wrote when it released the list of public comments it had received on the subject.
In his 2020 essay, Andreesson pinned the reason there is a housing crisis at all to the issue of hardship. “The problem is the desire,” he wrote, referring to the desire to invest in large construction projects. “We have to *want* these things.”
This story was originally published on Fortune.com