Steph Curry NIMBY? NBA star fights plan for Atherton townhomes

NBA star Steph Curry has joined neighbors in affluent Atherton who have objected to the Bay Area city’s plans to build multifamily and affordable housing.

The immediate object of concern for Curry and his wife Ayesha is a potential 16-unit townhouse on a 1.5-acre lot near their $30 million home. The property is currently occupied by a single family home. It is common for homes in the five-square-mile enclave to take up at least one acre.

In a Jan. 18 letter to the city obtained by local newspaper Almanac, the Currys wrote that they “had major concerns for both privacy and security, with three-story townhouses looming directly behind us.”

“We hesitate to add to the ‘not in our backyard’ rhetoric,” her letter continued, “but we wanted to send a note ahead of today’s meeting. Safety and privacy for us and our children remains our top priority and is one of the main reasons we chose Atherton as our home.”

Though they have urged opposing the development, they said if that’s not enough for the state, “we are asking the city to invest in much higher fencing and landscaping to block the view of our family’s property.”

The Curries are far from the only, the richest, or the angriest holdouts. Among those turning flak on city officials is billionaire venture capitalist Marc Andreessen.

In recent months, city leaders have attempted to address residents’ concerns, but officials can only go so far – because they must meet state requirements when creating an updated housing plan. If the state rejects the city’s plan, Atherton would be subject to lawsuits and the imposition of rules that give developers freer rule within the city limits.

Beneath the facade of celebrity and wealth is another iteration of a long-running debate over who should share responsibility for solving the state’s housing crisis and how. And part of the debate revolves around whether affluent neighborhoods and cities — and the wealthy in general — played their part.

There are state rules trying to impose accountability in some undisclosed locations, like Atherton, just north of the Stanford campus in San Mateo County.

According to census data, the community is comprised of approximately 7,000 residents, 73% White and 19% Asian, with a median household income in excess of $250,000. The population density is around two people per hectare and 86% of the housing stock is single-family houses with an average of just under three people per household.

The city is busy with state plans that would allow for the construction of 348 housing units by 2031.

Some residents made it clear why taller buildings should not be allowed in their vicinity. Other objections were more general.

“As a 32-year-old resident of Atherton,” Grace Ferrando wrote in comments submitted to the city, “it saddens and sickens me to think of what has been proposed for our beautiful city. In short, I am deeply concerned about the safety implications for our residents, including road safety.”

“I am 95 years old,” wrote Mari Korematsu. “This has been my home for many decades and I want to live the rest of my life without all this uncertainty looming over me.”

Joseph Laria wrote, “This plan places a disproportionate burden on our small community to meet state requirements for moderate-income multi-family housing. … It is not economically feasible to build low-income housing in Atherton. The land cost alone is $8 million per acre.”

Increasing population density, he added, “restricts our property rights. … I am raising a family in Atherton because I liked the quality of life and the city. …Given the unique character of Atherton, other options are available that can match the spirit of the case element.”

“These are complex times,” wrote Nic and Denise Persson. “If you can’t trust that your family neighborhood won’t suddenly turn into an apartment complex, how dare any American buy a house for his family?” I think we all agree on that.”

“Crime and congestion is what you’re going to get with this outrageous scheme,” wrote David Randolph.

Debate went all the way – a packed special city council meeting began at 2:00 p.m. on July 31, the same day the plan was due to be presented to the state. The plan was approved with changes.

The results of a state review are still pending.

The Currys and their immediate neighbors were granted a partial concession – a condition that could result in the property in question being developed at a lower density. Steph Curry NIMBY? NBA star fights plan for Atherton townhomes

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