Category Archives: Travis Air Force Base

Solano Together Statement: The People of Solano County Defeat the Billionaires’ Development Plan

Statement: The People of Solano County Defeat the Billionaires’ Development Plan

Solano Together, July 22, 2024

Faced with the anticipation of overwhelming rejection by Solano County voters on the ballot, California Forever has pulled the plug on the East Solano Plan Initiative. The people have spoken and California Forever has been forced to withdraw their hastily drawn, poorly designed initiative, given a surefire loss in November.

Solano Together is proud of the people of Solano County for this amazing WIN. For the tireless advocates who engaged and educated the constituents, the brave local officials and community leaders who spoke out and denounced the project, and the resilient farmers who were on the frontlines against this harmful proposal.

Let’s be clear: California Forever knew that their guarantees were not binding. They knew the impact of their proposal on traffic, Travis Air Force Base, the environment, agriculture, existing cities, and more. Instead of taking the time to deeply engage in a transparent process of what their proposal means to the county, they decided to deceive the public to try and get the initiative passed.

We thank the Board of Supervisors for initiating the impact study that showed the negative impacts a project of this magnitude would have on Solano families.

Solano Together looks forward to continuing our local, community driven efforts to invest in the future of our county, including advocating for bringing more jobs and affordable homes to our existing communities while protecting farmland and open spaces through the renewal of the Orderly Growth Initiative by 2028.

California Forever Withdraws East Solano Plan Initiative from Ballot

[BenIndy: Not a defeat, per say, but most certainly a win.]

Joint statement by Solano County and California Forever

Issued July 22, 2024

Statement by Mitch Mashburn, Chair of the Board of Supervisors, and Supervisor for District Five

Board of Supervisors Chair Mitch Mashburn. | File photo.

After a discussion between myself and Jan Sramek, the Founder and CEO of California Forever, we have agreed that they will withdraw their measure and not proceed with the election in November.

Instead, they will submit an application for a General Plan & Zoning Amendment and proceed with the normal County process which includes preparation of a full Environmental Impact Report and the negotiation and execution of Development Agreement. As part of the normal County process, California Forever will reimburse the County’s costs for this future work, including both staff time and external consultants.

As a result, the action for the Board to place this measure on the ballot on tomorrow’s agenda is no longer needed.

I think it signals Jan Sramek’s understanding that while the need for more affordable housing and good paying jobs has merit, the timing has been unrealistic. I want to acknowledge that many Solano residents are excited about Mr. Sramek’s optimism about a California that builds again. He is also right that we cannot solve our jobs, housing, and energy challenges if every project takes a decade or more to break ground.

But announcing last year that California Forever would seek a vote on the November 2024 ballot, without a full Environmental Impact Report and a fully negotiated Development Agreement, was a mistake. This politicized the entire project, made it difficult for us and our staff to work with them, and forced everyone in our community to take sides.

Delaying the vote gives everyone a chance to pause and work together, which is what is needed – not a fight between friends throughout the County on both sides of the issue. With the ballot measure off the table, it will be far easier for county staff to work with California Forever. It also creates an opportunity to take a fresh look at the plan and incorporate input from more stakeholders.

We are who we are in Solano County because we do things differently here. We take our time to make informed decisions that are best for the current generation and future generations. We want to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to be heard and get all the information they need before voting on a General Plan change of this size.

As we now have competing reports and studies to consider and reflect on, I’ll give Mr. Sramek and his team a challenge. Consider us the ‘show-me county.’ Use the Environmental Impact Report and Development Agreement process to prove to us how you’ll strengthen Travis AFB, how you’ll provide water, and how you will solve the transportation challenges. And show us the financial engineering that makes it possible to pay for billions of dollars of infrastructure, without increasing our taxes, and while delivering a net tax surplus to our county.

I’d like to thank Mr. Sramek for recognizing the need of our community for more time and information. As Chair of the Board and the Supervisor who represents the area most impacted, I will seek to form a subcommittee of the Board for this proposal, and I look forward to working with him and his team collaboratively going forward.

Supervisor Mitch Mashburn

Statement by Jan Sramek, Founder & CEO of California Forever

California Forever CEO Jan Sramek. | Chris Riley / The Reporter.

For close to a century, California has been a place of optimism and opportunity, where every generation was better off than their parents. That’s why I moved here a decade ago, and that’s the California I believe in and want to help build.

But in recent decades, California has stopped building, and as a result, that optimism and opportunity has begun to slip away. We build a fraction of the homes every year that we built in the 1970s – despite our population growth. We make companies go through five years of planning and environmental review to open one factory – so they move to Arizona instead, and take their jobs with them. We make solar farms so difficult to permit that Texas now has more renewables than California.

We believe that Solano County has the opportunity to forge a new path towards the California Dream for this generation, and generations to come.

We also believe that we must move forward with urgency – because delays are not just a statistic. They have a human cost. As the father of two toddlers, I’m reminded of this reality every day. For every year we delay, thousands of Solano parents miss more mornings, recitals, and bedtime stories because they’re commuting two hours for work. They cannot get those magical moments back.

We want to show that it’s possible to move faster in California. That’s why we asked for zoning approvals in 2024, followed by an Environmental Impact Report and Development Agreement in 2025 and 2026. But we recognize now that it’s possible to reorder these steps without impacting our ambitious timeline. Instead, we will work with the County to prepare the Environmental Impact Report and Development Agreement over the next two years, and then bring the full package back for approval in 2026.

This creates opportunities to incorporate additional community input, and then provide everyone with access to objective analysis, and the full terms of the Development Agreement, including the community benefits. We believe that with this process, we can build a shared vision that passes with a decisive majority and creates broad consensus for the future. We’re excited about working with the Board of Supervisors, its land use subcommittee, and county staff to make this happen.

Finally, I want to personally thank the tens of thousands of Solano residents who have shaped and supported the East Solano Plan. In the upcoming weeks we will launch a series of community workshops to help design the community benefits, including down-payment assistance, training funds, and small business grants, and to hear any other suggestions for improving the plan. If you would like to participate or have other ideas, my email is

Jan Sramek

What is Local Media Saying About Solano County’s East Solano Plan Impact Report?

[BenIndy: Here are some initial takes on the report from the Vallejo Times-Herald. All emphasis (bolded sections) was added by the BenIndy and was not in the original article.]

Cars drive over hills on Highway 12 between Suisun City and Rio Vista. California For ever released a survey this week with economic data regarding Solano County. | Chris Riley / The Reporter.

Vallejo Times-Herald, by Nick McConnell and Matthew Brown, July 19, 2024. Also published in The Reporter.

Solano County raised concerns about the impacts of California Forever’s East Solano Plan, citing questions over water, traffic, taxes, agriculture, Travis Air Force Base, and other issues in its initiative report released Thursday evening.

The county estimates that the first phase of the project would lead to an estimated annual fiscal deficit of $5.9 million for the county and $6.5 million for the fire district, and the full buildout would lead to annual deficits of $103.1 million and $ 88.8 million, respectively.

The report was compiled to outline the potential impact and magnitude of the plan and was agreed upon at a Board of Supervisors Meeting last month. The report will be presented to the board on Tuesday morning when supervisors will decide whether to place the initiative on the ballot or enter a development agreement directly.

“We hope this report inspires a constructive debate of the issues facing this community,” said Bill Emlen, Solano County Administrator. “Compiling this impact analysis on the new community proposal has been a herculean effort by the county team given its size and scope nearly doubling our current county population at buildout — and its sweeping impacts on our environment, economy, and mobility.”

The East Solano Plan would be significantly larger than any other developments proposed in the county or across the state in recent years, weighing in at well over 10 times the size and number of residential units the county has seen proposed. As this initiative was filed only a few months after the intentions of the landholders were announced, the report explains that the county did not have sufficient time to create an EIR before November.

As stated in the report: “The fact that the Initiative will be presented to the voters without the benefit of an EIR, or objectively prepared planning and engineering studies expected for a new community proposal of this magnitude, is a significant issue that warrants further public consideration as the Initiative is discussed and debated during the months leading up to the November vote.”

From 2019 to 2023, California Forever, then known as Flannery Associates, expressed to the county that it only wished to use the land for agricultural purposes. They asked questions about drilling for irrigation, the report explains, and reportedly indicated an interest in planting olive trees on a “substantial portion” of the property. The county learned of the organization’s intentions along with the public when the New York Times published a story about the company last September.

The initiative does not include sufficient information for county approval at this stage, the report indicates, and an EIR and Development Agreement with the county would be necessary to iron out those details. It is unclear, however how those changes could be made after the initiative is passed, as the initiative does not include a mechanism to solve those issues.

“The Initiative does not specifically address obligations of the proponents to make changes to the plan if, for example, a significant environmental impact is identified,” the report reads. “As a result, the Initiative places the voters in a difficult position because they will not have available the type of important site-specific environmental information typically available.”

Without the ability to review or influence developments in the new community beyond a “superficial level”, the report explains that both county government and the public could be left without recourse if California Forever wishes to alter the plan at a later time.

The county’s assessment of California Forever’s infrastructure and public utilities needs detailed a miles-long price tag, but with little to no information on funding sources, Solano County isn’t quite sure who’s fronting the bill. California Forever’s proposed initiative cites the implementation of a Public Facilities and Financing Plan that would “finance, build, own and maintain” local infrastructure and public service facilities, without charging other Solano cities or the county.

California Forever CEO Jan Sramek talks to journalists after the company announced the proposed location of the new city they would like to create west of Rio Vista. | Chris Riley / The Reporter.

However, the county’s report notes several times that it hasn’t even seen this plan yet, meaning it isn’t sure where the money would be coming from to build and upkeep a massive infrastructure venture –– or if the funding even exists. Just because California Forever says it will pay, the report says it doesn’t guarantee that “adequate facilities and services would be provided.”

In the county’s projection, water treatment appears to be one of the biggest standalone price points on the public utilities bill. Under Phase 1, a projection of 20,000 dwelling units, wastewater output is estimated at 3.56 million gallons per day. The county estimates this would jump to nearly 24.5 million gallons per day with the project’s Buildout estimation of 160,000 dwelling units. The county expects output to be even higher, as these estimates don’t even include non-residential wastewater.

Under these projections, the new community would need extensive plumbing and new treatment plants. California Forever has proposed two sites for the treatment. Totaling the new sites and the pipeline infrastructure to feed them, the county estimates a cost of $996 million to accommodate California Forever’s Buildout scenario. Water from the seasons must also be accounted for –– since there is no existing stormwater drainage system, California Forever would have to build one from scratch, costing an estimated $625 million to accommodate the Buildout scenario.

California Forever’s proposal maintains that it wouldn’t require the diversion of water resources from other jurisdictions to feed its own by relying primarily on surface water, groundwater, and recycled water. The county projects Phase 1 water needs to be between 10,000 and 13,000 AFY, jumping to 44,000 to 75,000 AFY, meaning the Buildout phase would require between 14.3 billion to 24.4 billion gallons of water per year to accommodate the new community.

Sheep graze in a plot of land east of CA 113 in Rio Vista owned by the government that California Forever hopes to exchange for a section of Jepson Prairie. | Chris Riley / The Reporter.

According to a water study released in June, California Forever claims to have already acquired 5.3 billion gallons of water per year. However, the county report states that California Forever has not explicitly identified a surface water source for the new city. Relying on groundwater and recycled water would add more to the infrastructure bill. The county estimates that treatment plants for groundwater and a distribution system would cost $354.6 million by Buildout. A recycled water distribution system was estimated at $100 million. As for other services and amenities, the Buildout phase’s projection of a population of 400,000 would make California Forever’s city the most populated in Solano County.

The report notes that the various civil services –– law enforcement, firefighters, libraries and schools –– required to accommodate the Buildout population would far surpass the current level of services provided in each jurisdiction. Schools alone would occupy a huge portion of these costs. The county estimates just over 8,000 students after Phase 1 and nearly 66,000 by Buildout, which would require nearly $6 billion in school facility costs alone.

Rezoning California Forever’s land holding, the county estimates, would have impacts on the value of the land itself and the natural services the land provides. The county says that it would lose out on $6.7 million in annual earnings from the agricultural land the project would occupy, which includes the Rio Vista Parkland area. An ecosystem services valuation, which included water, climate regulation, waste treatment, erosion prevention, biodiversity and aesthetics, estimated an added loss of just over $11 million. Biodiversity alone was priced at $8 million, accounting for most of the value, followed by aesthetics at $1.1 million and waste treatment at $518,000.

A spokesperson for California Forever indicated that the organization has yet to review all of the report’s findings. Still, reports commissioned to consultants by California Forever came to “different conclusions,” finding that the project would provide “53,000 and 87,000 permanent new jobs across all of Solano County, and a net tax revenue surplus of $44 to $54 million per year for Solano County.”

“We look forward to working with all stakeholders to review the collective findings and deliver the information everyone needs to gain confidence that this project would create a stronger Solano County,” the spokesperson said.

Executive Summary of the Solano County Impact Report for East Solano Plan

Jan Sramek, chief executive officer of California Forever, speaks during the Solano County Board of Supervisors meeting at the Government Center in Fairfield, Tuesday, June 25, 2024. | Aaron Rosenblatt / Daily Republic.

By BenIndy, July 19, 2024

On June 25, 2024, the Solano County Board of Supervisors directed County staff to prepare a report on the proposed “Rezoning of 17,500 acres of Land in East Solano County to Allow the Development of a New Community” Initiative, aka California Forever’s East Solano Plan.

The report, as outlined in Elections Code section 9111, was to address several specific impacts, including “fiscal impacts, consistency with county plans, effects on land use and infrastructure, and impacts on the community’s ability to attract business,” among other topics requested by the Board of Supervisors.

The report landed today. It’s 98 pages long. And it’s a beast.

Here it is, stored on our server for your review: Rezoning of 17,500 acres of Land in East Solano County to Allow the Development of a New Community Elections Code 9111 Report. Read it, print it, study it. There’s a lot to look at.

But before we start reading, let’s first acknowledge the tremendous volume of time, energy, expertise, and resources that went into this stunningly robust report. Given the circumstances, County Staff and consultants appear to have considered a wide variety of concerns as fully as they could given the time constraints, and done a phenomenal job trying to fit a year (at least) of work into less than a month. (CA Forever’s own impact report, which produced a far rosier outlook on the development’s impacts on Solano, apparently took 6 months to put together.)

We’re astounded and grateful. Solano should be astounded and grateful. This is a level of service that speaks not just to the importance of the issue, and how high the stakes are for our collective future, but also to the qualities that demonstrate that in Solano, local governance is built on the foundation of transparency, accountability, and respect for its constituents.

Transparency, accountability, and respect. Kudos are owed to County Staff and leaders.

However, given the length and complexity of the beast, it is unlikely it will be widely read, at least in its entirety.

For that reason, the BenIndy is publishing the report’s executive summary in full, without commentary. It’s just below.

We will also be posting a few more takeaways in the coming days, which will most definitely include plenty of commentary. We’re soliciting commentary from various folks and welcome commentary from Solano residents. (benindy @ mngl . ca).

We will also be  looking at how Benicia City Staff chose to answer questions the County put to them about anticipated impacts, so we can consider how Benicia City Staff and leadership are choosing to tackle the issue. We hope to share some of  the responses produced by other cities as well.

Once more, you can view the full report here: Rezoning of 17,500 acres of Land in East Solano County to Allow the Development of a New Community Elections Code 9111 Report.

This summary has been modified for formatting purposes only. Items that were bolded in the report are bolded in this post.

Buckle in.


Continue reading Executive Summary of the Solano County Impact Report for East Solano Plan