Local Californians living in Solano County have started to fight back against a group of Silicon Valley billionaires who plan to build a so-called “utopian” city in the area. At a Solano County Water Authority meeting, local farmers called out the California Forever project and their buying up of more than 53,000 acres of farmland.
Flannery Associates have been named as the group behind the California Forever project. This group is allegedly full of Silicon Valley tech elites and other billionaires. It’s headed by former Goldman Sachs trader Jan Sramek. It’s also backed by LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, venture capitalist Marc Andreessen, and Sequoia Capital Chairman Mike Moritz.
According to Flannery Associates, the California Forever project plans to create “a new community” on formerly rural land in Solano County, about 60 miles northeast of San Francisco. This city will be both green and walkable.
The California Forever project’s website also indicates that this new community will consist of “solar farms, and a greenbelt of agriculture and habitat in eastern Solano County.”
According to the California Forever project, this more than 53,000-acre community will also “bring in thousands of good paying jobs, new paths to middle-class home ownership in safe, walkable neighborhoods, and a new source of clean power for every resident of Solano County.”
Residents of Solano County are showing up in force in an attempt to derail California Forever. https://t.co/9vLqvbnb6U
— The Daily Beast (@thedailybeast) November 24, 2023
However, long-time residents and farmers in this area of the county disagree. Instead, they see it as the elite attempting to build their own expensive, elite city. Biology professor Jim DeKlowe even called it an “oligarch city.”
Things between the local community and the California Forever project came to a head during a local meeting that saw 200 people attend. Many were able to voice their distrust and anger over what Flannery Associates have reportedly done in the area in the past few years.
In just six years, Flannery Associates have bought up more than 53,000 acres in Solano County, spending more than $800 million in the process. This also included buying up acres around Travis Air Force Base, which U.S. Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA) already expressed his concern about.
Thanks to this worry, the Treasury Department opened a national security investigation into the group and its founders.
The buying up of acres also led to a $510 million lawsuit with local farmers.
Though it’s clear that many locals disagree with this new city being built over farmland, the California Forever project seems intent on continuing.
Brian Brokaw, a spokesperson for the California Forever project and its subsidiary Flannery Associates, said to The Daily Beast that the opposing group at the most recent meeting was “a small but vocal minority.”
The company also said, “With regards to future purchases, except for a few remaining properties that Flannery has under contract and will close on in the coming weeks, Flannery has assembled all the land it needs and does not anticipate making any additional purchases.”
In November 2024, residents of Solano County will be able to vote on whether to allow the development of this new city.