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 considerably more controversy.
In June, Andreessen co-founder Horowitz and his wife, philanthropist Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen, wrote to local officials in suburban San Francisco, America’s most expensive zip code, to oppose a zoning change that would have allowed properties for many families in certain locations and build around 130 housing units by 2031.
“I am writing this letter to express our HUGE objection to multifamily overlay zoning in Atherton,” the couple wrote, according to a public comment uncovered by The Atlantic. “Please IMMEDIATELY REMOVE all multi-family overlay zoning projects from the Housing Item that will be submitted to the state in July. They will MASSIVELY decrease our home values, the quality of life for ourselves and our neighbors, and ABSOLUTELY increase noise and traffic.”
The housing proposal was ultimately defeated.
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 important 2020 essay called “It’s Time to Build”.
In the piece, he noted “crazy skyrocketing housing prices in places like San Francisco, making it nearly impossible for regular people to move in and take on the jobs of the future.”
He argued that “regulatory arrest,” that is, opposition to new building through official channels, was preventing San Francisco and other locations from building “the American city of the future.”
“We should have glittering skyscrapers and spectacular living environments in all our best cities at levels far beyond what we have now. where is it?” 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 he derided as having “zero supposed concern for inequality and privilege.”
Critics were quick to poke fun at the irony, calling the venture capitalist hopelessly out of touch.
He reportedly owns a $16.6 million Tuscan-style mansion in the city. According to Hollywood Reporteras well as two separate mega-mansions in Malibu, worth more than $200 million combined.
“I’m not sure there’s anything more pathetic than Marc Andreessen, an actual billionaire, whining that building a few high-rises in his town would MASSIVELY reduce the value of his home,” author Matt O’Brien argued 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 AVAILABILITY,” joked author and podcaster Paris Marx.
Some critics noted that the irony was just as rich 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 prominent real estate developers, decided it’s not time to build when it’s close to home,” said Twitter user Andrew Granato.
The independent contacted Mr. Andreessen and Ms. Arrillaga-Andreessen for comment.