Tag Archives: Sierra Club

Solano Together Sends Strong Message Against California Forever At Community Rally

[Note from BenIndy: Now that  Solano Together has officially launched, sign up to support or learn more about the organization and is mission HERE. Some images shown below are not original to the Solano Together news release and were added by BenIndy.]

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. | Solano Together.

Solano Together, February 5, 2024

SUISUN CITY – A diverse group of organizations, residents, and local leaders came together to celebrate the launch of the Solano Together coalition, rally for a community-driven vision for the future of Solano County,  and speak against Flannery Associates’ planned sprawl development California Forever, on Sunday, February 4.

Not even the storm deterred over 200 people from packing the room at the Nelson Center in Suisun City, greeting old friends and meeting new ones. And those who could not join in person were able to participate via the livestream. Watch the full recording for complete speeches.

A powerful line-up of speakers—representing diverse voices throughout the County—and local residents denounced the vague and deceptive language of California Forever’s ballot initiative, the drain that the development will cause on much needed public resources for existing cities, the crushing threat to the livelihood of farmers, and the importance of an alternative community-driven and inclusive vision for the County’s future.

They shared a clear message: Solano stands together for these values—open spaces, agricultural lands, and investing in existing cities. With the anticipated ballot initiative proposed by California Forever for the upcoming November elections, the Solano Together coalition will continue to inform the public about potential impacts of the project.

Highlights from the speakers:

Suisun City Mayor Pro-Tem Robinson at a November 2023 event. |  Robinson Kuntz / Daily Republic.

“Picture, if you will, Solano County stripped of its open spaces, devoid of its precious agricultural lands. What would remain of our beloved County without its marshlands and delicate delta ecosystems? Our very identity is intertwined with these natural landscapes, and their preservation is non-negotiable.” — Princess Washington, Mayor Pro-Tem of Suisun City & Chair of the Sierra Club of Solano County.

“Farmland is not just a commodity. It is a finite resource that sustains our local economy, provides jobs, and ensures food security. There is something fundamentally wrong with our society if our farmers have to fight for the land they steward.”— William Brazelton, Solano Farm Bureau.

“You build communities where the people are. You build cities where the economy is. California Forever has neither. I’ll say this to the developers and investors who are paying attention. Build in Solano County cities. Build in Suisun City. Build in Rio Vista. Build in Fairfield and build in Vallejo.” — Charles Palmares, Vallejo Councilmember.

Aiden Mayhood at a November 2023 town hall. | Chris Riley / The Reporter

“It’s telling when one of the most vocal opponents of California Forever is a young person, a member of a generation set to reap the supposed benefits of the project. (…) Young people like me will watch as the cost of living skyrockets if California Forever is approved. Ultimately, young people like me will bear the true costs and burdens of the project.” — Aiden Mayhood, Rio Vista resident.

“Why did they choose Solano County? Is it because they saw a low income community of Black and Brown residents? Because they think we’re the path of least resistance? That’s a colonialist mentality.” — Maria Cisneros, Fairfield resident.

 “This initiative is shockingly light on real details. Should the initiative qualify for a November Ballot, our community will be asked to provide an up or a down on the project. We’d be asked to make this choice without the basic facts needed to make an informed decision. That should make everyone concerned.” — Mitch Mashburn, Chair of the Solano County Supervisors.

Representative John Garamendi (file photo).  | Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press.

“The citizens of Solano County will not stand for what is proposed. Flannery Associates have set about putting a dagger in the heart of Travis Air Force Base. We cannot let that happen. This plan is a disaster for this entire region.” — John Garamendi, Congressman (D-CA 8th District)

“No one who got on this stage has anything to gain from this. But we all believe in the planning process and the need for orderly and safe growth. And all of us have been misled by (Flannery Associates) who want to take over our County. Trust is something you can’t buy, with money or false promises.”— Mike Thompson, Congressman (D-CA 4th District)

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 solanotogether.org

Join the Solano Together Coalition Launch This Sun., Feb. 4, 12pm in Suisun City

[Note from BenIndy: Registration appears to be required for this event, and it looks like tickets are going quickly. Sign up now if you’d like to join. After you sign up to join the exciting launch of Solano Together, check out its first response to California Forever’s 83-page initiative HERE (the initiative text itself is HERE). Sign up to support or learn more about Solano Together HERE. Some images shown below are not original to the Solano Together news release and were added by BenIndy.]

Clicking the image will redirect you to the page for this event where you can register. Another link to the registration page is below.

Bringing Solano Together – Coalition Launch

Join us in celebrating the official launch of the Solano Together Coalition, on February 4, at 12:00 pm. The event will be held at the Joseph A. Nelson Community Center located on Village Drive in Suisun City.

Come meet the coalition, break bread with neighbors, and hear from local leaders about why NOW is the time to bring Solano Together to fight for our collective future. We welcome all people from all backgrounds—whether you’re already part of the coalition, or still trying to figure out what’s going on, this is a perfect opportunity to find out more, connect with our member organizations, and at the very least, have a fun-filled afternoon!

Coalition supporters such as the Mayor Pro-Tem of Suisun City, Princess Washington, Congressman John Garamendi, Solano Farm Bureau President Will Brazelton, and more will address the audience and share their concerns about California Forever’s sprawl development plans and their vision for Solano County.

This event event is FREE and open to the public but capacity is limited. Registration is required.

Solano Together members waved signs at the California Forever Benicia Town Hall on December 18, 2023. | Image by BenIndy, free and fine to reuse.

Solano Together responds to California Forever’s Released Map and Ballot Initiative

[Note from BenIndy: Please bear with us for posting more than usual but Solano Together has responded to the initiative and map released by California Forever and it’s worth your time to see what they have to say. Once again, you can check out California Forever’s full, 83-page initiative text HERE. Sign up to learn more about Solano Together HERE. Images shown below are not original to the Solano Together news release and were added by BenIndy.]

Click the image to enlarge. A map of where California Forever plans on putting its new city in Solano County, right between Travis Air Force Base and Rio Vista. | California Forever / Handout via SFGate.

Solano Together, released January 17, 2024

SUISUN CITY – The Solano Together coalition strongly opposes California Forever’s plans for a sprawling new development in rural Solano County announced this Wednesday. After years of secrecy, months of public controversy, and four months of rushed community engagement, Flannery Associates shared initial glimpses of their new proposed community in Southeastern Solano County.

For Solano Together, the details revealed today did not come as a surprise: California Forever continues to be a senseless sprawl development in a remote, undeveloped part of Solano County. These types of projects divert much needed public and private resources away from cities and residents, leaving existing infrastructure to degrade and residents to suffer.

Flannery Associates are going for the “christmas tree” approach for the proposal, trying to sprinkle financial benefits to specific interest groups around the County in a way that distracts from the negative impact of the proposal on water, county resources, traffic, and taxpayers in existing cities.

Jobs: We’ve seen countless development proposals adopted by cities around the region with promises for jobs, only later to go back to ask for modifications in the proposal based on a change in market conditions. And we also know from experience that nearby cities are often in direct competition for companies and services that do want to locate in an area. Vallejo, Fairfield and Vacaville have all invested significant resources in attracting new jobs to their community. Flannery’s incentives to lure those jobs away from the population centers of the county to this new development will only harm our communities and reduce opportunities for existing residents. Based on this track record, the idea of 15,000 new jobs in this area is an empty promise.

Taxpayer Money: The plan purports to be a new approach to development, but its physical location—far away from jobs, services, and infrastructure—points to more of the same, investing scarce public funds in expanding infrastructure rather than investing in improvements for long-time residents. Flannery Associates’ proposal spins their small investment in infrastructure upgrades, such as roads and water pipes, as a huge benefit to the community, when the project relies on millions of dollars of public investment for new roads, sewer and water, and schools, funds that will need to be diverted from other priorities.

Solano Together members waved signs at the California Forever Benicia Town Hall on December 18, 2023. | BenIndy.

What Solano Together Coalition supporters are saying:

“Buying up farmland at low prices and rezoning for housing development has been a quick way to make a buck for decades in California. The plans we’ve seen fly in the face of decades of thoughtful planning and action that was first set into motion to protect Solano’s cherished agricultural industries. Developing highly productive ranch lands into urban uses cannot be undone. We cannot continue to allow developers to put food security, long-term sustainability, and livelihoods on the line in exchange for short-term profits.”—Solano Farm Bureau.

“California Forever has no real plans for public transportation or transit. This development is going to clog our streets, highways, and bridges. It will make our climate worse by paving over farmlands—all while making Solano residents pay the cost”—Duane Kromm, member of the Orderly Growth Committee and former Solano County Board Supervisor.

“California Forever’s proposed plans are a detriment to wildlife, native plant life, and water resources that our ecology and communities depend on. We need to protect Solano County’s open space now and for the future. You don’t need to be an environmentalist to ask: ‘What sort of world are we going to leave our future generations?’”—Princess Washington, Mayor Pro-Tem of Suisun City & Chair of the Sierra Club of Solano County.

“Sprawling developments such as California Forever don’t just permanently destroy nature, habitat for wildlife, and farm and ranchland. These developments also divert much needed public and private resources away from cities and residents. Instead of abandoning our existing cities for something shiny and new, we believe the truly visionary approach would be to make transformative investments in them, improving the lives for both current and future residents.”—Sadie Wilson, Director of Planning and Research at Greenbelt Alliance.

“Flannery Associates’ plans to take surface water from the Sacramento River and/or pump groundwater from the Solano subbasin to support a whole new city would further stress critical water resources in Solano County and the Delta, and threaten to undo recent progress made to manage water resources sustainably and responsibly for future generations.”—Osha Meserve, Lawyer specializing in water and environmental impacts.

“I see nothing in the plans that protects Travis Air Force Base. California Forever’s promises mean nothing if Travis is forced to close due to housing encroachment, glare from 10,000 acres of solar farms, and noise complaints from new residents where sheep now graze. In fact, they aren’t building a city, they’re sprawling housing over 18,000 acres without legally creating a city. That could very well endanger Travis’ mission.”—Catherine Moy, Mayor of Fairfield

Solano Together’s top priorities are to drive growth, development, and economic investment into the county’s existing cities and protect the invaluable agricultural and environmental resources that are central to our community and industries. California Forever fails to do that by doubling down on a pattern of sprawl development that endangers the livelihoods of the agricultural community and taxes Solano’s crucial natural resources such as water, land, habitats, and ecosystems.


Learn more about Solano Together here. For more information, contact: Daniela Ades, dades@greenbelt.org, 1-415-792-9226

First map of proposed utopian California city in Solano County is released

[Note from BenIndy: Lots to look at and start unpacking here. First, we have our first map of the new town proposed by California Forever (see headline image) and a population goal for the first wave of new settler-occupiers – 50,000 (with room to expand to 400,000). Second, we now know what the ballot initiative will be called and how many signatures will be required to put it on the ballot: getting the East Solano Homes, Jones, And Clean Energy Initiative on the November ballot will require 13,000 signatures from Solano voters. Third,  they’re launching with a plan to offer $400 million to Solano residents to help with down payments on homes in this new city. Not mentioned in this article are the $200 million California Forever is planning to invest in Solano cities (including Benicia) to revitalize downtown areas, and a laundry list of various “guarantee” initiatives, including the Solano Jobs Guarantee, Green Solano Guarantee, Water Guarantee, Transportation Guarantee, Schools  Guarantee, Smart Growth Guarantee, Taxpayer Guarantee … Phew. Check out the full, 83-page initiative text HERE.]

Click the image to enlarge. A map of where California Forever plans on putting its new city in Solano County, right between Travis Air Force Base and Rio Vista. | California Forever / Handout via SFGate.

SFGate, by Katie Dowd, January 17, 2024

The new proposed city in Solano County finally has a map. Along with the map, California Forever, the group backing the project, is promising a utopia of affordable homes, world-leading technology and efficient public transit.

On Wednesday, California Forever said it is officially filing the East Solano Homes, Jobs, and Clean Energy Initiative with the Solano County Registrar of Voters. [Emph. added by BenIndy.] If the group can secure more than 13,000 signatures from Solano County voters, the measure will go before voters this November.

The group has been criticized for its secrecy. Last year, news broke that a shadowy group called Flannery Associates was buying up tens of thousands of acres of land in rural Solano County. Within a decade, they’d quietly become the biggest landowner in the county. Local politicians demanded an investigation into the group amid concerns it was a national security threat to have an unnamed landowner snatching up plots near Travis Air Force Base.

In August, a group of tech billionaires was revealed as the backers of the land grab. Among them are philanthropist Laurene Powell Jobs, LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman and venture capitalist Marc Andreessen. They launched the California Forever name at that time, installing former Goldman Sachs trader Jan Sramek as its CEO.

Farmland and wind farms in the background in rural Solano County. | Godofredo A. Vásquez / AP.

Since then, California Forever has done a PR blitz in Solano County, sending out thousands of surveys to residents, holding town halls and opening offices in several towns. The ambitious plan has been met with skepticism, especially around concerns that traffic congestion is already a constant problem on Interstate 80 between Fairfield and Dixon. The city is being planned to start with 50,000 residents but eventually could accommodate 400,000. The map shows the new city would be nestled between Travis Air Force Base and Rio Vista.

“This is a pipe dream,” said Democratic U.S. Rep. John Garamendi, who was furious with backers for their secrecy about property close to a U.S. Air Force base. He said the proposed development, which he also was briefed on, makes no sense “in the middle of areas surrounded by wind farms, gas fields, endangered species, no water, no sanitation system and no road system let alone a highway system.”

California Forever’s initiative boldly claims the new city will be “one of the most sustainable communities in the world.” Its 18,600 acres will include 4,000 acres of “parks, trails, urban ecological habitat, community gardens, and other types of open space.” Neighborhoods will be grouped around schools, shops and restaurants, with an emphasis on walkability. Previous renderings released by the group show Manhattan-like row houses and Mediterranean-style vistas.

People find seats as they get more information on the new California Forever proposed development off Highway 12 near Rio Vista during a town hall meeting on Thursday. | Chris Riley / Times-Herald.

California Forever said it will be distributing $400 million to Solano County residents who need help making a down payment, with priority given to “working families, teachers, nurses, police and firefighters and construction workers.” Its promotional materials do not yet list how much homes will cost.

Likely in direct response to the many fears about an unknown group surrounding Travis AFB, the plan also says it will designate a “Travis Security Zone” that doubles the “buffer” around the base from about 8,000 acres to 15,000 acres.

If the measure goes to Solano County voters in November, California Forever needs them to overturn protections put in place in 1984 to keep agricultural land from being turned into urban space. If approved, the plan would then undergo two years of environmental review.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

More about California Forever on the Benicia Independent: