Perhaps the most powerful word in Bay Area development debates is an otherwise humble preposition: “but.”

As in, “Of course we support building more housing. But …” not near me. Not so big. Not this tall. Not that dense. Not aimed at a particular income group. Not if it causes traffic, blocks views, generates students for schools or causes any other potential inconvenience, no matter how minor.

Indeed, even ardent development opponents can get behind perfection: Projects that check all…