The Summer of NIMBY in Silicon Valley’s Poshest Town

SAN FRANCISCO — Tech industry titans have navigated a lot to get where they are today — the dot-com bust, the 2008 recession, a backlash against tech power, the pandemic. They have overcome boardroom showdowns, investor power struggles and regulatory land mines.

But this summer, some of them encountered their most threatening opponent yet: multifamily townhouses.

Their battle took place in one of Silicon Valley’s most exclusive and wealthiest towns: Atherton, Calif., a 4.9-square-mile enclave just north of Stanford University with a population of 7,500. There, tech chief executives and venture capitalists banded together over the specter that more than one home could exist on a single acre of land in the general vicinity of their estates.

Their weapon? Strongly worded letters.

Faced with the possibility of new construction, Rachel Whetstone, Netflix’s chief communications officer and an Atherton resident, wrote to the City Council and mayor that she was “very concerned”…

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This article was written by Erin Griffith and originally published on