It's simple. Vote in restrictive regulations designed to keep things "villagey," then wait. According to a cautionary tale in the Daily Journal San Bruno's troubles date from a 1977 voter initiative. According to the Journal, the ballot measure "was intended to preserve the existing character of San Bruno by requiring voter approval for high-rise developments, increased density in existing neighborhoods and projects encroaching upon scenic corridors and open spaces."
Sound familiar? Locals who wanted to preserve quality-of-life enacted restrictions that did the opposite. Measure M on Menlo Park's November ballot bears many of the same hallmarks. Time will tell, of course. But San Bruno does provide a nearby case study. Four decades ago, voters there believed they were keeping development under control. They kept the town underwater, instead.