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Wealthy Tech Townies Fight Affordable Housing

Tech companies often make public statements in favor of affordable housing in the context of public acts of philanthropy. But the sincerity of these pronouncements can be tested by examining responses from the same executives confronted with actual affordable housing developments in their neighborhoods. And right now, many of them are failing this simple test.

Top executives at Netflix, Apple, Google, Facebook parent-company Meta, and others, have publicly opposed a recent housing development plan in Atherton, California, a wealthy Silicon Valley enclave just north of Stanford University. It’s a trend that housing analysts call NIMBYism, which stands for “Not In My Back Yard.”

Jeremy Levine, of the Housing Leadership Council of San Mateo County said, “Atherton talks about multifamily housing as if it was a Martian invasion or something.” Atherton, like many wealthy towns its size, is zoned almost exclusively for single-family dwellings. But the meteoric rise in tech-related jobs has put the state of California on an unsustainable housing trajectory. Simply put, there are far too many people with too few affordable places to live.

To ameliorate this issue, the state of California requires cities to submit housing plans that account for the projected growth in their communities. In Atherton, that meant carving out a zoning exception for several multifamily townhouse sites. Almost immediately, many town residents saw this potential development as a threat to their way of life. One resident said that having more than one residence on a single acre of land would “MASSIVELY decrease our home values, the quality of life of ourselves and our neighbors, and IMMENSELY increase the noise pollution and traffic.”

Atherton mayor Rick DeGolia is sympathetic and said, “Everybody who buys into Atherton spent a huge amount of money to get in.” Urban Planner Ralph Robinson was blunter saying, “People are less sympathetic.”

Possible Preaching Angle:

In contrast to this attitude, the family of God is to be open to everyone, and not exclusively reserved for a wealthy few.

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