Opinion: Flannery Associates has rebranded California Forever to get rid of old baggage. Don’t be fooled

BenIndy Editorial, May 13, 2024

Flannery Associates have rebranded California Forever to the East Solano Plan, apparently hoping Solano residents will line up for a taste of the same old wine, just in a new bottle.

Corporate rebranding has long been a tool for abstraction and obfuscation, giving companies suffering PR problems a new chance at life with a new corporate identity. BP stood for British Petroleum until the early 2000s, when the company adopted “Beyond Petroleum” as its tagline as proof of its commitment to safer systems and renewable energy (yet the Deepwater Horizon oil spill happened in 2010). Philip Morris Companies Inc. rechristened itself the Altria Group around the same time, eager to shed its association with the negative health impacts of smoking (yet it continued to spend millions to lobby and litigate for the tobacco industry).

Following this dubious tradition, Flannery Associates aka California Forever are now the East Solano Plan (“ESP”).

Critically, the ESP is (at least at present) nothing more than a marketing facelift. Over the last 6 months the company has had many opportunities to receive and consider feedback from the frustrated Solano communities that it says it wants to serve. While it has accepted some feedback, most notably by making provisions for the Travis Air Force Base, many Solano residents remain dissatisfied with the scheme to build a new city in Eastern Solano.

California Forever’s rebrand to ESP does nothing to address the underlying issues that have plagued it since its sudden thrust into the spotlight after years of secrecy and misdirection. At its core, the project is the same as it was before the change.

Whatever the name of the scheme was, is, or will be in the future is secondary to the glaring omissions and half-baked “voter guarantees” that may in fact be non-binding and/or unbindable, according to some analysts.

We at the Benicia Independent want to be clear about the following: We support the development of affordable housing. However, it is unclear how the ESP will benefit those in need of it given the projected million-dollar price tag for its homes. It is also unclear how the ESP can benefit anyone, from any income level, anytime soon – it is projected to take the new city 30 years or so to come to fruition.

So stay frosty, Solano residents. Don’t be fooled by rebrands and taglines. Don’t be suckered by “guarantees.”

Instead, call this what it is: old wine sold in a new bottle, for the same high price.

While the overuse of memes in this post is intended to draw some laughs, it is also there to expose a naked ploy, and a pretty cynical one at that, as quickly as possible and in a manner that welcomes casual reposting. Please feel free to reuse any of the images.