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Palo Alto says Zuckerberg can't demolish neighboring homes

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Peninsula city for some reason sensitive about blowing up housing stock

Social media mogul Mark Zuckerberg’s life seems to always revolve around houses in Palo Alto.

A house in Palo Alto is where he grew Facebook from a seed harvested at Harvard into one of the defining companies of 21st century Silicon Valley. A house in Palo Alto is where Zuckerberg and his family presently call home. And four houses in Palo Alto adjacent to his own are now a perhaps rare check on the authority of the sixth richest man in the world.

In 2013, Zuckerberg bought the houses bordering his property, eventually revealing plans to demolish them. He was worried about his privacy. (You can all insert your own ironic "Facebook data mining privacy" joke here.)

Unfortunately, the city isn’t proving keen on his idea. We can’t imagine why they’d be a tiny bit sensitive about sacrificing perfectly good housing stock for the sake of its wealthiest resident’s desire not to live next to anyone.

To be fair, Zuckerberg also planned to build new homes on the four parcels—smaller ones that wouldn’t be able to peer into his own house. But Palo Alto’s Architectural Review Board didn’t like the looks of his proposed new homes and bounced the plan at Thursday’s meeting.

The board is an advisory committee, and Palo Alto’s director of planning Hillary Gitelman can override their decision and approve the proposals if she wants to. But architects who work in Palo Alto tell Curbed SF that this rarely happens. Railroading unpopular projects through wouldn’t be smart politics, after all.

Zuckerberg will probably have to come up with some new designs, resign himself to keeping the houses the way they are, or just start spending most of his time crashing in one of those sleep pods at the office.


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The contentious parcels.