California Forever dangles “sports complex” deal-sweetener over voters’ heads

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By BenIndy, June 5, 2024

A text from BenIndy’s editor emeritus today read:

“Big news today. Cal Fever plans to build a facility to please every conceivable sports enthusiast. Next, an apple pie factory and the world’s biggest American flag. And something honoring every Solano mom…”

Later, also from BenIndy’s trustworthy editor emeritus:

“Also in the news: Cal Forever execs plan to give a car to every teenager and a guaranteed anti-aging syrup to every senior. Oh, and I heard they are planning to travel the county giving kisses to every baby. I believe ’em, don’t you?”

Yes, the billionaires behind “California Forever” are at it again, announcing yesterday the creation of yet another vague and legally tenuous “incentive” to boost the company’s increasingly desperate efforts to drive supporters to the polls in November.

This time, the company is dangling a juicy new sports center over our heads, hoping we’ll jump for our treat.

Solano could certainly use new sports facilities for youth and adults, although it’s presently unclear how building a single, massive superstructure could reasonably serve the county without adding massive infrastructural and logistical nightmares to what is already a rough situation for families. (Sidenote: Maybe this is a stupid question, but wouldn’t it make more sense to have several smaller facilities spread across several underserved areas, to reduce congestion and serve those communities more equitably through improved access, instead of having one massive megaplex with certainly choked ingress and egress points? Couldn’t those smaller facilities serve as a sort of gravitational pull for those undeserved communities, to prompt deeper neighborhood ties and increased community investments, across generations?)

To its many opponents, this most recent in a series of similar announcements confirmed that California Forever’s communications and marketing teams are locked in a repeating pattern of three steps:

  1. Identify (or invent) a community need or problem;
  2. When confronted with community distrust or opposition, invent a committee and stack it with sympathetic locals who may (or may not) have some relevant experience and interest in addressing that problem, to task them to devise the “solution,” all while paying third-party firms and consultants to do the actual work (sometimes out of state);
  3. Declare that California Forever has – through its largesse, beneficence, and access to such firms and consultants – co-developed a community-driven solution, but will fund this solution only once the ballot initiative has passed.

And repeat, and repeat, and repeat…until all that wild shooting in the dark finally takes the target(s) down.

Be wary

Before the full text of the ballot initiative was available in early 2024, California Forever execs begged Solano residents to wait for that full text with an open mind. But those of us who did so remain confused or frustrated.

Now, California Forever is begging Solano residents to simply trust it, and to wait for the ballot measure to pass, whereupon our trust will be rewarded with the full, unconditional delivery of all of our promised incentives, like candy falls freely from a busted piñata.

Except instead of candy, or sports centers, this is actually a discussion about peoples’ lives, and about the material and spiritual future of Solano County. And Solano voters should be very wary.

There is a real and urgent need for affordable housing for Californians yesterday. But this most recent in California Forever’s parade of vague incentives comes with its usual set of weak guardrails and shows us that the company continues to be much more invested in winning at the ballot than than addressing real issues like the business of creating and maintaining positive housing, health, and educational outcomes for present and future Solano residents.