Billionaire-backed plan for Solano utopian city qualifies for ballot

A Silicon Valley-backed initiative to build a green city for up to 400,000 people in Solano County has qualified for the Nov. 5 ballot, elections officials said Tuesday.

Solano County’s registrar of voters said in a statement that the office verified a sufficient sampling of signatures. California Forever, the company behind the campaign, submitted well over the 13,000 valid signatures required to qualify.

The registrar is scheduled to present the results of the count to the county Board of Supervisors in two weeks, at which point the board can order an impact assessment report.


A potential new major city between Rio Vista and Fairfield

After many months of reporters trying to find out who was buying up a large chunk of rural Solano County, we now know that an investor group, Flannery, which now calls itself Forever California, is behind the silent and mostly secret project.

Voters will be asked to allow urban development on 27 square miles (70 square kilometers) of land between Travis Air Force Base and the Sacramento River Delta city of Rio Vista currently zoned for agriculture. The land-use change is necessary to build the homes, jobs and walkable downtown proposed by Jan Sramek, a former Goldman Sachs trader who heads up California Forever.

Sramek, who has the backing of wealthy investors such as philanthropist Laurene Powell Jobs and venture capitalist Marc Andreessen, disclosed that the campaign spent $2 million in the first quarter of 2024.

He expects the amount spent to be higher in the second quarter, he told The Associated Press in an interview before the ballot initiative was certified.

Opposition to the effort includes conservation groups and some local and federal officials who say the plan is a speculative money grab rooted in secrecy. Sramek outraged locals by covertly purchasing more than $800 million in farmland and even suing farmers who refused to sell.

The Solano Land Trust, which protects open lands, said last week that such large-scale development "will have a detrimental impact on Solano County’s water resources, air quality, traffic, farmland, and natural environment."