Sunday August 14, 2022

Silicon Valley billionaire Marc Andreessen is known for his winning venture capital bets on tech companies like Facebook, Skype, Lyft, Pinterest, Airbnb, and Slack. One of his latest positions, however, is causing significantly more controversy.

In June, the Andreessen Horowitz co-founder and his wife, philanthropist Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen, wrote to local officials in the tony San Francisco suburb, America’s most expensive zip code, to oppose a zoning change that would allow for multi-family properties in some locations and build about 130 units of housing by 2031.

“I am writing this letter to communicate our IMMENSE objection to the creation of multifamily overlay zones in Atherton,” the pair wrote, according to a public comment uncovered by The Atlantic. “Please IMMEDIATELY REMOVE all multifamily overlay zoning projects from the Housing Element which will be submitted to the state in July. They will MASSIVELY decrease our home values, the quality of life of ourselves and our neighbors and IMMENSELY increase the noise pollution and traffic.”

The housing proposal was ultimately defeated.

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The apparent NIMBY stance is at odds with Mr Andreessen’s public comments. He called for more housing construction in the Bay Area in an influential 2020 essay called “It’s Time to Build.”

In the piece, he hammered “crazily skyrocketing housing prices in places like San Francisco, making it nearly impossible for regular people to move in and take the jobs of the future.”

He argued that “regulatory capture,” that is opposition to new building via official channels, was keeping San Francisco and other locales from building “the American city of the future.”

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“We should have gleaming skyscrapers and spectacular living environments in all our best cities at levels way beyond what we have now; where are they?” he continued.

This April, he compared high rents in New York to racially discriminatory restrictive covenants, an issue he found all the more glaring in a city which her derided as “ground zero of purported concern about inequality and privilege.”

Critics were quick to feast on the irony, calling out the venture capitalist as hopelessly out of touch.

He reportedly owns a $16.6m “Tuscan-style mansion” in the town, according to the Hollywood Reporter, as well as two separate mega mansions in Malibu, worth over $200m together.

“I’m not sure there’s anything more pathetic than Marc Andreessen, an actual billionaire, whining that building some multifamily homes in his town would ‘MASSIVELY’ decrease his own home value,” argued writer Matt O’Brien in a tweet on Friday.

Others used the news to mock Mr Andreessen’s 2020 essay.

“Marc Andreessen: It’s only TIME TO BUILD if it’s NOT IN MY BACKYARD,” joked writer and podcast Paris Marx.

Some critics noted the irony was just as rich coming from Ms Arrillaga-Andreessen, who is the daughter of a billionaire Silicon Valley land developer.

“Marc Andreessen, who married into the family of one of the Bay Area’s most significant real estate developers, has decided that it’s not time to build when it’s near his own home,” said Twitter user Andrew Granato.

The Independent has contacted Mr Andreessen and Ms Arrillaga-Andreessen for comment.

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