After Corrections, California Forever Collecting Signatures for Ballot Initiative; Solano Together Clarifies ‘Guarantees’ Are Not Binding

[Note from BenIndy: The images and emphasis in this post are not original to the Solano Together press release. If you are interested in learning more about Solano Together, check out their website, see how to get involved (with options ranging from simply being on their mailing list to volunteering), and don’t forget to donate. While there is no way Solano Together can match the millions to billions of dollars that California Forever is throwing at this thing, grassroots movements can do a lot with even a little. $5, $10, or more if you can may go a long way.]

Land where California Forever plans on building its new city (foreground) in Solano County, Feb. 16, 2024. The contentious development would be located between Travis Air Force Base and Rio Vista. | Loren Elliott / CalMatters.

Solano Together Press Release, March 1, 2024

SUISUN CITY – After intense public criticism and multiple resubmissions, California Forever’s ballot initiative asking voters for permission to rezone agricultural land to build a massive sprawl development was officially accepted by Solano County officials on Thursday. This means that California Forever will be able to start collecting signatures from voters to make the initiative eligible for the ballot this coming November.

For Solano Together, the multiple amendments to their ballot initiative speak volumes to their rushed and secretive process and the true intent of their development proposal.

The new title and summary, called “Rezoning of 17,500 acres of land in east Solano County to allow the development of a new community”, was prepared by Solano County counsel on Feb 29, 2024, updating information regarding the acreage for the proposed “new community,” changes to their land use plans, and clarifying language on the need for a Development Agreement to “vest” any promises made in the initiative.

As noted by County counsel, what is on the ballot is primarily a land use change that is not supported by any real plans for infrastructure development, resource allocation, or environmental impacts. The continued secrecy and purposeful deception of the public is unsurprising, given that project proponents have repeatedly withheld information on their intentions since they first started acquiring land in Solano County in 2017.

The initiative’s empty pledges—which they call “guarantees”—and lack of detail on everything from water sources to transportation plans give Solano residents and decision-makers very little information about how this proposed community would be developed and its associated impacts.

While the County Counsel’s summary states that the measure identifies “ten voter guarantees, including general financial and environmental commitments, that the project proponents would be obligated to provide once residential and commercial development begins,” it also clarifies that environmental impacts and financial feasibility would not be known until the measure is approved. “Rights to develop the New Community and obligations for voter guarantees would not vest until a Development Agreement is executed between the project applicant and the County.”

It’s been widely reported in local media that those “guarantees” are largely empty promises as there is no mechanism to enforce them until a Development Agreement is in place and a ballot measure cannot legally obligate the County to agree to specific provisions in a Development Agreement. The title and summary further detail that any community benefits negotiated through a Development Agreement would only be binding if the new city remained unincorporated. If California Forever chose to incorporate, all of those benefits could disappear.

Since the first public announcement of their ballot initiative on January 17, California Forever has submitted language three times as a response to criticism of their handling of Travis Airforce Base, corrections in acreage, and legal clarifications about the use of a Developments Agreement and compliance with CEQA.

Reactions from Solano Together Coalition supporters:

Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.). |  Mariam Zuhaib / AP.

“Don’t build in this area. Period. The latest ballot initiative does not alleviate concerns about Travis Air Force Base encroachment. Building a city of 400,000 residents next to an active Air Force base will jeopardize the long-term viability of this vital national security installation and the 30,000 jobs that rely on the base. On top of that, the initiative provides little substance regarding governance. Flannery and Associates’ project would be an enormous strain on the County if it continues as an unincorporated community. As we’ve seen in the title and summary, all the benefits in the Development Agreement would go out the window if the community is incorporated into a city. If this project goes forward, Solano County taxpayers will foot a large part of the bill. This is a lose-lose scenario for Solano County, and we cannot allow it to move forward.” – John Garamendi, U.S. Congressman. 

“As a Solano County resident and a member of the National Union of Health Workers, this initiative is hugely concerning when it comes to the impacts a new city of 400,000 residents would have on existing mental health services. Resources are already stretched thin, and a new, unincorporated community would pull from scarce resources. If they wanted to solve homelessness, they would be acting in better faith with specialists to ensure that mental health services are being strengthened, not forgotten and potentially made even worse.” – Sarah Soroken, Solano County Resident and Mental Health Clinician at Solano County Behavioral Health.

Princess Washington, Mayor Pro-Tem of Suisun City & Chair of Sierra Club of Solano County. | Robinson Kuntz / Daily Republic.

“The changes to the initiative in response to the concerns of Travis Air Force Base should not be interpreted as goodwill on behalf of Flannery Associates. What I take from this process is a complete disregard by California Forever’s team for Travis’ needs—although they have all along said otherwise—until they realized they weren’t going to get very far unless they made some changes. If you are working as a partner, you make sure you’re on the same page from the start, and that is not what we’ve seen here.” – Princess Washington, Mayor Pro-Tem of Suisun City & Chair of the Sierra Club of Solano County.

“What is coming before Solano County voters in November is essentially a blank check for Flannery Associates to move forward with a development project that currently provides zero details on how this new city will build and fund infrastructure, manage the traffic impacts of 400,000 new residents on the roads, or uphold any of their so-called ‘guarantees.’ It’s especially concerning to know that any community benefits agreed upon in a Development Agreement would be thrown out the window if and when this new city was to incorporate.” – Marilyn Farley, former Fairfield City Council Member and former Executive Director of the Solano Land Trust

“In this third version of the initiative, there continue to be no answers for how this project will be delivered, just more questions. As an organization that sees housing as one of our best climate solutions, I think we have the opportunity to come together to overcome barriers to building in our seven cities rather than count on this project to bring the solutions we need when they have continuously failed to work with community members and public agencies, still have no plans to deliver income-restricted affordable housing, and have produced an initiative that has very little substance when it comes to project delivery.  We need climate-smart housing solutions now, and building a new city far from jobs and transit is not how we will get there.”– Sadie Wilson, Director of Planning and Research, Greenbelt Alliance.

On February 4, a diverse group of organizations, residents, and local leaders came together to celebrate the launch of the Solano Together coalition. From left to right: Fairfield resident Mario Cisneros, Rio Vista resident Aiden Mayhood, Suisun City Mayor Pro-Tem and Sierra Club of Solano County Chair Princess Washington, Representative John Garamendi, Solano Farm Bureau President William Brazelton, Vallejo Councilmember Charles Palmares, Representative Mike Thompson, and Solano County Supervisor Mitch Mashburn. |

About Solano Together: A group of concerned residents, leaders, and organizations who came together to form a coalition that envisions a better future for Solano County, focuses development into existing cities and strengthens our agricultural industry. Our work is driven by an alternative vision for Solano in the face of Flannery Associates’ claims about California Forever’s benefits—our vision is guided by local voices and perspectives. Learn more at

For more information, contact: Daniela Ades,, 1-415-792-9226