A previously-secret, unprecedented California land experiment by Silicon Valley billionaires to build a massive city on roughly 78 square miles of farmland (roughly the size of two San Franciscos), purchased through a shadowy front organization is facing major scrutiny, and a potentially deal-breaking ballot initiative to rezone protected farmland for urban use, which must be approved by voters before the Solano County project can proceed.
Headed by Jan Sramek, a former Goldman Sachs trader, and backed by an all-star cast of Silicon Valley elites like Laurene Powell Jobs, Reid "hoax-funder" Hoffman, and Marc Andreessen, "California Forever" - the parent company of Flannery Associates, LLC which bought the land, has been quietly amassing a fiefdom.
The first roadblock to the project - now rebranded as just 'California Forever' - occurred when the alarm was sounded over the project's proximity to Travis Air Force Base, making the then-unknown identity of the buyers of major concern.
Brian Brokaw, a representative of Flannery Associates, said last month that the investor group is mainly "Californians who believe that Solano County's and California's best days are ahead." He said the group will begin talking with Solano County leaders, residents, and Air Force officials next week.
The group claims that the project will provide "good paying local jobs, solar farms, and open space."
In short, the liberal tech lords funding the project are promising a new city filled with tens of thousands of homes, solar energy farms, and parks, all funded by the private sector. Yet, this celestial dream hinges on Solano County voters approving a ballot initiative to rezone farmland for urban use, a protective measure in place since 1984.
Yep - the serfs will need to willingly hand over their land for this so-called utopia, and people are concerned.
Princess Washington, mayor pro tempore of Suisun City, said residents deliberately decided to protect open space and keep the area around Travis Air Force Base free of encroachment given its significance.
She’s suspicious that the group’s real purpose is “to create a city for the elite” under the guise of more housing. -QZ
"Economic blight is everywhere. So why do you need to spend upwards of a billion dollars to create a brand new city when you have all these other things that can be achieved throughout the Bay Area?" said Washington.
Not making any friends
Flannery first stepped on toes by keeping its identity hidden so long, infuriating two area congressmen who had sought for years to find out whether foreign adversaries or investors were snapping up the land near the US Air Force Base.
"The FBI, the Department of Treasury, everyone has been doing work trying to figure out who these people are," said US Rep. Mike Thompson, after meeting with Sramek. "Their secrecy has caused a lot of problems, a lot of time, and a lot of expense."
U.S. Rep. John Garamendi, whose district includes Travis and immediate areas around it, said base and county officials reached out roughly five years ago for help in figuring out who was buying up land. Garamendi, who is scheduled to meet with Sramek Friday, was appalled to learn who was backing the project.
“You big wealthy Silicon Valley billionaires, you’re party to all of this. This is the kind of people you are? This is how you want to operate?” he said. “What they’ve managed to do is to totally poison the well.” -QZ
Flannery claims that secrecy was required until enough land was purchased in order to avoid short-term speculation, but that it's now ready to engage with the Solano community by sending out a survey and the creation of an advisory board.
"Instead of watching our kids leave, we have the opportunity to build a new community that attracts new employers, creates good paying local jobs, builds homes in walkable neighborhoods, leads in environment stewardship, and fuels a growing tax base to serve the county at large," reads the project's website.
Then in May, Flannery infuriated locals when it sued several landowners in court, accusing them of colluding to fix prices for their properties. The company, revealed that it had purchased, or was under contract to purchase, roughly 140 properties to the tune of $800 million.
Now, after meeting with Sramek, Congressman Thompson says he's not impressed - and says that Flannery was vague on details, and failed to illustrate that they understood or appreciated the county or its values.
When Thompson asked how the project would help residents to finance homes, Sramek said he planned to use "all of his knowledge as a finance guy" to generate savings - i.e. he totally bullshitted his way through the meeting.
"He doesn’t have a plan, he’s not there yet," said Thompson.
Except, they do - kinda...
On Friday, Sramek released renderings of their proposed utopia. Via the Daily Mail:
Editor's note: Our mistake. The above photo is actually looters running out of a jewelry store in the Bay Area - which the elite liberal billionaires are fleeing from.
We're sure it'll be great!