[Note from the BenIndy: Former Solano County Board Supervisor Duane Kromm has been incredibly active in the fight to rip the glossy veil off Flannery Associates aka California Forever’s slick renders and lofty claims. He’s been featured in several articles about the project and recently introduced an incredibly informative panel at the College of Exploration featuring California Forever CEO Jan Sramek and State Senator Bill Dodd – an early and as of yet rare chance for the public to participate in this huge discussion (which we hope to cover in more detail soon). Below, please find an opinion he shared with the Northern Solano Democratic Club (NSDC) in their November 2023 newsletter. Read more about NSDC below Mr. Kromm’s op-ed.]
By Duane Kromm, November 2023
My guess is everybody has heard about Flannery Associates, LLC (aka California Forever) by now. This is a secretive organization funded by a handful of rich Silicon Valley tech and venture capital tycoons. They have purchased over 50,000 acres of Southeastern Solano County, which is about 10% of Solano’s land mass.
They started buying in 2018, farm by farm by farm. Nobody knew who these guys were until the New York Times blew their cover with an August 2023 story about the billionaires hiding behind their Delaware registered LLC, where ownership can be masked. The NYT’s story made it clear that these are investors looking for a high rate of return. “If the plans materialize anywhere close to what is being contemplated, this should be a spectacular investment,” per Michael Moritz billionaire venture capitalist, lead investor in Flannery.
Please look at the Solano County Orderly Growth Committee’s website for a good map of the land owned by Flannery: https://solanoorderlygrowth.org/flannery
Not only has Flannery consumed most of the Montezuma Hills and Jepson Prairies areas of Solano County, they have also sued farmers who have dared to refuse to sell to them. Having spent over $800,000,000 (yes that is 800 million dollars) buying land, they now look to recover $560,000,000 by suing multi-generational farm families.
Flannery’s stated goal is to build a new city, or cities, somewhere in the Montezuma Hills area. There are reports that these cities could eventually have a population of 400,000. Flannery has not shared any specifics about their goals. Nobody in the community has any clue about roads, water, infrastructure, schools, public safety, and the impacts on our agricultural economy.
Solano County has been a leader in California regarding development and protection of farmland and open space. Starting with an initiative in 1984, our voters have consistently supported the concept of city centered growth. The motto is “What is Urban Shall be Municipal” For more information on what our voters have supported, look at the 2008 ballot measure.
Solano County, in our seven cities, has added housing at a faster rate than the rest of the Bay Area, or the State. We have also protected our farmlands and open spaces to help our, mostly thriving, agricultural economy. I say mostly because agriculture is an always changing marketplace with foreign competition, climate change, and investment needs, all of which present relentless challenges.
Please think long and hard about how you respond to Flannery’s pitches. As Senator Bill Dodd noted; this feels like Professor Harold Hill in the Music Man trying to sell 76 trombones.
This opinion from Mr. Kromm was reposted with permission from the Northern Solano Democratic Club, a fantastic Dem club based in Northern Solano. If you’d like to read NSDC’s full newsletter, click here. It’s chock-full of exciting news and ideas from this amazing group, which has been operating in Solano for more than 70 years! To learn more about NSDC more generally, click here to be redirected to the NSDC website.
Other articles featuring Duane Kromm on Flannery/California Forever:
- Tech elites are so fed up with San Francisco, they’ve already invested nearly $1 billion to build their very own city | Fortune, August 30, 2023
- Silicon Valley billionaire’s land grab for utopian development draws fury, fears | Bay Area News Group, September 3, 2023
- Op-Ed: California Forever? | Daily Republic, September 24, 2023
- A History Lesson for the Mega-Rich Bullies Bankrolling California Land-Grab | Daily Beast, October 5, 2023
- Citing distrust, conflict of interest, Rio Vista City Council rejects city’s legal counsel’s bid to *also* represent California Forever