Marc Andreessen opposes apartments in America’s “richest town”

Billionaire pens email against multifamily development in Atherton while calling for housing in SF

Marc Andreessen and Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen (Illustration by The Real Deal with Getty)
Marc Andreessen and Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen (Illustration by The Real Deal with Getty)

A Bay Area billionaire who railed against the city of San Francisco for not building enough homes has joined a campaign against building apartments in the wealthiest hamlet in the country.

Venture capitalist Marc Andreessen, who penned an essay two years ago entitled “It’s Time to Build,” opposed a plan to rezone the town of Atherton to allow more than 130 apartments, The Atlantic reported, citing public documents.

Andreessen, who co-founded Andreessen Horowitz, and his wife, Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen, emailed their opposition to a state-mandated plan to rezone the unincorporated town to build more housing. Its so-called housing element requires adding 348 units by 2031.

In an emailed comment to the mayor and the city council of Atherton, they said they were “IMMENSELY AGAINST multifamily development!”

“I am writing this letter to communicate our IMMENSE objection to the creation of multifamily overlay zones in Atherton,” they wrote in a June 25 email from the domain andreessen.org, in a message confirmed by the town’s planning office as authentic, according to The Atlantic.

“Please IMMEDIATELY REMOVE all multifamily overlay zoning projects from the Housing Element which will be submitted to the state in July,” the email stated. “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 town of Atherton, with a population of 7,200 residents, is surrounded by Menlo Park, Woodside, Redwood City and unincorporated San Mateo County.

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It is considered the richest community in the nation. A minimum housing lot ranges from a third of an acre to 1 acre.

After the Andreessens and more than 300 others submitted mostly negative feedback, the town jettisoned the multifamily overlay plan. Instead, the haven for tech billionaires has called for townhomes, or in-law-units, among its brick-walled mansions.

In his 2020 essay, Andreessen criticized a widespread inability to build, and lamented “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.”

In October, the Andreessens paid $177 million for a 7-acre estate in Malibu, a record price for a home in California. They then bought two more homes along the beach, bringing their total outlay to $255 million in six months.

— Dana Bartholomew

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