Tag Archives: Fairfield CA

‘California Forever? Never’

Vallejo Times-Herald, by Vicki Gray, January 28, 2024

Vicki Gray, Vallejo CA

The Vallejo Times-Herald, the Vacaville Reporter, and now, in a two-page spread, the New York Times have done a good job reporting on the strong-arm tactics of Jan Sramek and a who’s who of billionaire Silicon Valley venture capitalists to buy huge chunks of Solano County and change its character — tactics U.S. Rep. John Garamendi has called “mobster techniques.”

Flannery Associates, the tech brothers holding company for California Forever, has been secretly buying farmland between Rio Vista and Fairfield for six years to build, it claims, a model city of 50 to 200,000 — a sort of Villages North or, as Garamendi put it, Disneyland.

At a Rio Vista press conference last Wednesday, to which only supporters were granted entrance, Sramek announced a proposal full of pie-in-the sky promises — lacking any concrete detail — that it intends to get on the November ballot as an initiative. Having already spent close to a $1 billion on its land purchases, you can count on Flannery spending huge amounts to secure the 18,500 signatures it needs to get the ballot initiative approved. It has already blanketed the county with slick brochures, billboards, and contact offices. Typical of his cocky, in-your-face stance with local residents and officials, Sramek told those at Wednesday’s meeting, “We’re going to spend as much as we need to win” and “I am going to make this happen no matter what.” [Emph. added by BenIndy.]

Despite the reporting to date, major questions remain unanswered. What, for example, are the true plans of this venture capitalist initiative? Have the tech brothers really thrown millions into this project to solve San Francisco’s housing shortage by infill in Solano County? If you believe that, I’ve got a nice bridge to sell.

And, if in fact they are actually so altruistic, why begin this in secret. Why didn’t they begin by asking county residents: “Do you need more affordable housing? If so, where?” Why not begin infilling existing cities like Vallejo and Fairfield as envisaged by the county’s slow growth plan?

What sorts of industries will be brought into Flannery’s new empire — far greater than the new city’s footprint — to provide the “good jobs” for the new residents? Why would it not make more sense to contribute to the clean energy development of Mare Island?

What spade work has been done to ensure adequate public services — police, fire, schools? Or is California Forever to be a private company town like Spreckels in the Salinas Valley?

And how about water? Per reporting in the Times-Herald and Reporter, Mr. Sramek claims that there are parties in Northern California looking to sell water and that California Forever is already in conversation with them. Oh? Who are these “parties”? From what will the water be diverted? Farms? Bottom line, California Forever is but the latest in a long line of big money hustlers swooping into town confident they can convince people they see as job-hungry country bumpkins to buy into another destructive pig-in-a-poke.

Remember State Farm, Bechtel/Shell’s LNG plant, and that concrete plant on Vallejo’s waterfront? [Note from BenIndy: Read more about that concrete plant here.]

Let’s show them that we’re a little more sophisticated and possessed of a lot more dignity and self-respect than they can imagine. Joining the burgeoning opposition at www.solanotogether.org, let’s show Mr. Sramek that we will do whatever it takes to make sure he does not win.

— Vicki Gray/Vallejo

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE BenIndy on the proposed Flannery Inc. land grab.

Solano County environmentalist groups announce new coalition against California Forever project

California Forever proposes to build a new city in eastern Solano. | Image from californiaforever.com.

The Solano Together coalition will consist of a partnership between the Solano County Orderly Growth Committee, the Greenbelt Alliance and the Sierra Club.

ABC10, by Khrys Shahin, November 28, 2023

SOLANO COUNTY, Calif. — The Sierra Club, a Solano County environmentalist group, is the latest to publicly oppose the proposed California Forever city and announced a new coalition they’re calling “Solano Together.”

Members of various Solano County groups spoke Tuesday morning to announce the new change and encourage support from the public against the project.

“Solano County is home to a robust and delicate ecosystem, carefully crafted with all of our stakeholders in mind,” said Princess Washington, Sierra Club chair and Suisun City councilmember. “The Sierra Club of Solano County will oppose any project that is detrimental toward Travis Air Force Base.”

The Solano Together coalition will consist of a partnership between the Solano County Orderly Growth Committee, the Greenbelt Alliance and the Sierra Club.

Fairfield Mayor Catherine Moy, Orderly Growth Committee chair Bob Berman and a Montezuma Hills farmer also spoke at the press conference to vocally oppose California Forever. Speakers mentioned the Solano County Orderly Growth Initiative as another reason they’re opposing the proposed new city.

The initiative, passed by voters originally in 1994 and amended in 2008, works to “protect working farms, ranches and watershed areas in Solano County by directing urban growth and development into our cities. ”

Flannery Associates, the investors of the California Forever proposed city, say their project “explicitly adheres” to the initiative by allowing voters to decide what happens.

“(Our project) embodies its very spirit… by asking Solano voters whether they want to turn an area with the least productive and least ecologically valuable soils in all of Solano County into a new economic engine for the county,” said a California Forever spokesperson. “We support the Orderly Growth Initiative and that’s why we’re going directly to voters — allowing them to decide what future they want for themselves and their kids.”

A Montezuma Hills farmer, who was approached by Flannery Associates and rejected their offers to buy her land, says she appreciates the idea of the new coalition and wants to “beat” this project.

“The way that I see a community is sort of an organic, almost a living thing. You don’t just pop a bunch of houses down in the middle of nowhere and expect a community to form,” said Kathleen Threlfall. “You come to a place for many different reasons and a row house is not one of them.”

Washington says the land Flannery Associates owns has been tended to by “generations of farmers who use dryland farming, producing up to 6 million loaves of bread each year” and is grazing land for livestock. Flannery says the land they own has the “worst agricultural soils in Solano County, which is why the area is used for pasture land rather than prime farmland.”

Flannery Associates has told ABC10 their full plan is expected to be released sometime in January, 2024.

Sierra Club calls California Forever’s plans to build new city a ‘clandestine possession’

Windmills line hills behind McCormack Ranch near Rio Vista. The 3,700-acre ranch is fighting the California Forever plan to build a new city in Solano County. | Noah Berger / Special to the Chronicle.

SF Chronicle, by J. K. Dineen, November 28, 2023

In what amounted to a campaign kickoff for the coalition fighting California Forever’s plans for a new city in Solano County, leaders from the Sierra Club and other groups held a rally Tuesday morning announcing their opposition to the project.

At a press conference, Sierra Club Solano Group Chair Princess Washington characterized the project as a “clandestine possession.”

Washington said that the Bay Area had lost 270,000 acres of agricultural land in the last decade, and that the Solano project would jeopardize tens of thousands of acres of additional farmland.

“This is land we cannot get back once it’s developed,” she said.

The rally, which also featured Fairfield Mayor Cat Moy, comes as California Forever gears up for a 2024 ballot initiative that seeks voter approval to develop portions of the 55,000 acres the group has acquired in unincorporated Solano over the last five years. The acreage, nearly twice the size of San Francisco, lies between Fairfield and Rio Vista.

While California Forever has not revealed any concrete plans — the group of billionaires behind the initiative includes LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, Andreessen Horowitz partners Marc Andreessen and Chris Dixon, and Stripe co-founders Patrick and John Collison — the group must seek approval because of Solano County’s “Orderly Growth Initiative,” which requires voter approval for any project built in unincorporated portions of the county. California Forever has started a series of community meetings to build support for the project.

Washington blasted California Forever for ignoring “years of Smart Use planning and the voter approved Orderly Growth Initiative.”

“By ignoring the current voter approved uses of land that Flannery has acquired in order to jack their investment’s economic return is nothing short of a hostile takeover,” Washington said.

A rendering of a scene in the proposed city planned in Solano County, by the group California Forever.

But California Forever CEO Jan Sramek countered that the project “embodies the very spirit” of  the orderly growth initiative, which has been in place for 40 years.

“By giving voters the final say, this project explicitly adheres to the Orderly Growth Initiative by asking Solano voters whether they want to turn an area with the least productive and least ecologically valuable soils in all of Solano County into a new economic engine for the county,” Sramek said. “We support the Orderly Growth Initiative, and that’s why we’re going directly to voters.”

He said the group is proposing to develop “pasture land rather than prime farmland,” and would preserve the open space Suisun Marsh and the Jepson Prairie. He also said the new city would offer a balance of jobs and housing, which would help Solano County residents find work closer to home.

Fairfield Mayor Cat Moy, an outspoken opponent of the project, called it “a threat to Travis Airforce Base,” which is the county’s biggest employer. She said building anywhere near Travis Air Force Base is “a big fat no.”

“They are not talking to my people in Fairfield and Solano County where I grew up,” she said. “We are a right to farm county. That means a lot.”

Moy also criticized the group for buying up the land in secrecy and for years refusing to answer questions about their intentions.

“You have hurt farmers already, you have divided families who have been here for more than a century,” she said. “Enough already.”

Sierra Club Announces Opposition to New City in Solano County, Fairfield/Zoom Press Conference on Tues., Nov. 28, 10am

Sierra Club Calls Billionaires’ Plan ‘Clandestine Possession’ of Solano County Land

SUISUN, CA – The Sierra Club will announce at a press conference here Tuesday its opposition to Flannery LLC’s proposal for a new city in Solano County, characterizing the project as a “clandestine possession,” charging the California Forever Project ignores years of Smart Use planning and the voter approved Orderly Growth Initiative.

More details will be presented at a formal Press Conference, at the Plaza in front of the County offices at 675 W. Texas St. at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023.

By Zoom: Meeting ID: 698 093 8552  Passcode: G1QC0K https://us06web.zoom.us/j/6980938552?pwd=NYE6hCuacobYGngpaOuDDub1NRZFAh.1&omn=85049635473

The Flannery LLC is a corporation that secretly purchased more than 60,000 acres of Solano County agricultural land without disclosing its backers.

After Flannery LLC was outed as a cabal of billionaires, they have now floated a plan called California Forever which flies in the face of years of Smart Growth planning endangering Travis AFB, the Suisun Marsh and the largest existent agricultural area remaining in the Bay Area.

“By ignoring the current voter approved uses of land that Flannery has acquired in order to jack their investment’s economic return is nothing short of a hostile takeover,” said Sierra Club Solano Group Chair Princess Washington.

Washington added, “These land use rules have allowed for a harmonious relationship of agricultural uses and open space with the urban environment of the seven existing cities in Solano County. There will be an increase in Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT).”

Brandon Dawson, Sierra Club State Executive Director, said,  “This project will violate recent Statewide efforts including the Governor’s 30 by 30 project and various efforts to reduce Green House Gases.”

Contacts: Princess Washington – Chair Sierra Club Solano Group – (707) 333-7073 cessprinwashington@yahoo.com

Joe Feller – Sierra Club Redwood Chapter Executive Committee – (415) 902-3395