Tag Archives: Silicon Valley

Duane Kromm: “Please think long and hard about how you respond to Flannery’s pitches”

[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.]

Duane Kromm. | Jason Henry / WSJ.

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:

Where Solano’s Habitat Conservation Plan & Flannery’s New City Collide

  • [Note from BenIndy: Respected environmental consulting firm LSA has generated a fascinating but lengthy memorandum regarding California Forever’s proposed new city’s impact on conservation and mitigation in the Solano Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP). While the whole memorandum offers a clear case for concern as well as an excellent blueprint of the various federal and state hurdles California Forever will have to overcome, those who don’t have time to dive into a 23-page document will certainly benefit from former Benicia Mayor Elizabeth Patterson’s excellent summary of the document, available below.]
Former Benicia mayor Elizabeth Patterson.

By Elizabeth Patterson, November 8, 2023

 The Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) is a federal program that allows projects that impact ecosystems (generally species-specific) to mitigate the impacts by acquiring habitat and conserving it in perpetuity. In this case the Solano County Water Agency (SCWA) is a contractor with the federal government for the operation and management of the Monticello dam and Putah South Canal (that is the canal that conveys Benicia’s water) and other components to the dam system. As part of the contract renewal twenty-odd years ago, SCWA has been required to mitigate the impacts associated with this project. The water agency has worked with Solano County and cities to identify habitat conservation areas that meet the requirements. The cities would benefit by being able to have the developer buy into the conservation areas. In other words, cities designated as the places to grow urban development would be able to have the developer pay their fair share for habitat conservation. Generally, such arrangements are hard to do one project at a time, and thus the overall plan of the HCP makes these mitigation plans more efficient and effective.

This HCP also allows contiguous conservation areas targeting specific species and ecosystems. When the large grassland areas are broken up, the result is a kind of a ‘museum’ of separate habitat areas lacking connectivity, and thus they do not represent not a sustainable habitat. After all, we can’t and don’t know all there is about habitats and how they work. The best we can do is to preserve these areas with corridors for migrating species and diversity of plants and other considerations. The viability of HCPs are based on these factors.
According to LSA’s memorandum, what the Flannery group’s proposed new city will do is impact, extirpate and lead to extinction of flora and fauna due to the land-use conversion from grasslands and riparian habitats. Because the price paid for the land is 200% greater than what the market had been, the Solano County Water Agency can’t easily buy land for habitat conservation plan, which is part of their responsibility as a federal water project operator. The HCP is also needed for projects already entitled or within the planning future for the cities. They were relying on the HCP to mitigate their projects.
The maps in the document clearly demonstrate the massive impact of a new city (or any creeping into habitat by existing cities). The SCWA and future urban developers in existing cities will be stuck with a very high and costly mitigation for meeting the HCP.
And the grasslands habitat will be wrecked.

Another opportunity to say NO to Flannery/California Forever this Nov. 9, 6:30pm

Here is another opportunity to use the channels of public participation to learn more about and register your concerns regarding Flannery aka California Forever’s bid to build a new city in eastern Solano.

On Thursday, November 9, at 6:30 pm, the Solano County Water Agency (SCWA) Board of Directors will meet to consider continuing water supply discussions with California Forever. The topic is slated for agenda item #12.

SCWA staff have apparently recommended continuing discussions to learn more about the proposed new city. Solano activists, meanwhile, are calling for Solano residents to join the meeting and urge the Board to not support the staff recommendation – and say “NO!” to Flannery.

Unlike the Nov. 16 public hearing, it looks like Solano residents will be able to Zoom in to listen and share any concerns. Follow the instructions below at the date and time indicated to participate.



Thursday, November 9, 2023 6:30 P.M.

Berryessa Room
Solano County Water Agency Office
810 Vaca Valley Parkway, Suite 203
Vacaville, CA 95688

Zoom Information: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83363088045?pwd=akxrSVU0OG1HaUh0NEVRNT FoMVNqUT09

Meeting ID: 833 6308 8045 | Passcode: 810810
One tap mobile: +16699006833,,83363088045#,,,,*810810#

Phone Number: +1 669 900 6833

Nov. 16 public hearing to consider lot line adjustment requested by Flannery Associates

Suisun Marsh Overlook | Wikipedia

After posting Ashton Lyle’s provocative thinkpiece on tech’s utopia obsession earlier today, BenIndy received notice from the Solano County Planning Commission of a public hearing to consider Flannery Associates LLC’s bid to transfer about 18 acres of land between adjacent lots under its ownership.

In the grand scheme of things, the 18-or-so acres to be addressed by this public hearing represent a small chunk of the vast plans Flannery Associates/the California Forever group has for the area. However, this hearing still represents an early chance to take a peek behind the curtain and get a feel for a proposed project that will likely find itself in the subject line of many public hearings for years to come.

If you’re interested in the California Forever project, consider attending either in person or by phone on November 16 (there does not appear to be an option to teleconference).



Planning Services Division

NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING (Planning Commission)

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that the Solano County Planning Commission will hold a PUBLIC HEARING to consider Lot Line Adjustment application No. LLA-23-03 by Flannery Associates LLC to transfer 17.71 acres of land between adjacent lots under their ownership, within the Exclusive Agriculture A-160 zoning district. Both properties are entered into an active Land Conservation Contract (Williamson Act Contract No. 724). Lot line adjustments are ministerial projects; therefore, are not held to the provisions and requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) per CEQA Section 21080 (b)(1). The property is located at 2154 Anderson Road, 2.5 miles southwest of the City of Rio Vista. APN’s: 0090-190-230, 240, 250, and 0048-130-240 (Project Planner: Eric Wilberg, 707-784-6765)

The hearing will be held on Thursday, November 16, 2023 at 7:00 p.m. in the Board of Supervisors Chambers, County Administration Center, 1st Floor, 675 Texas Street, Fairfield, California.

The County of Solano does not discriminate against persons with disabilities. If you wish to participate in this meeting and you will require assistance in order to do so, please contact the Department of Resource Management at 707-784-6765 at least 24 hours in advance of the event to make reasonable arrangements to ensure accessibility to this meeting.


In-Person: You may attend the public hearing at the time and location listed above and provide comments during the public speaking period.

Phone: You may provide comments verbally from your phone by dialing 1-415-655-0001 and entering Access Code 2632 666 6680. Once entered in the meeting, you will be able to hear the meeting and will be called upon to speak during the public speaking period.

Email/Mail: Written comments can be emailed toPlanningCommission@SolanoCounty.com or mailed to Resource Management, Planning Commission, 675 Texas Street, Suite 5500, Fairfield, CA 94533 and must be received by 10:00 a.m. the day of the meeting. Copies of written comments received will be provided to the Planning Commission and will become a part of the official record but will not be read aloud at the meeting.

Staff reports and associated materials will be available to the public approximately one week prior to the meeting at www.solanocounty.com under Departments; Resource Management; Boards, Commissions & Special Districts; Solano County Planning Commission.

If you challenge the proposed consideration in court, you may be limited to raising only those issues you or someone else raised at the public hearing described in this notice, or in written correspondence delivered to the Planning Commission at, or prior to, the public hearing.

Monday, November 6, 2023