Billionaires From Silicon Valley Have Spent $800 Million on Land in NorCal to Start a “Green City”
For years, a company called Flannery Associates LLC has been buying huge plots of land in Northern California, though no one ever knew who was behind the purchases or what they wanted to do with the land.
Finally, the secret’s out: Flannery Associates LLC is made up of numerous Silicon Valley billionaires who want to use the land to start a new “green city” they are calling “California Forever.”
The Long Kept Secret
Since 2018, plots of farm land in Solano County, California were being purchased left and right, but no one knew who was buying them. And the long kept secret has caused an immense amount of trouble for the local and even federal government.
U.S. Representative Mike Thompson who represents the county told the press, “The FBI, the Department of Treasury, everyone has been doing work trying to figure out who these people are. Their secrecy has caused a lot of problems, a lot of time, and a lot of expense.”
Why All the Secrecy?
Now that the billionaires from Silicon Valley have admitted that they pooled their money to purchase the land, they finally explained why they believed it was important to remain anonymous for five long years.
Apparently, they thought that secrecy was necessary to avoid speculation until they had enough land to tell the world their real plan. Essentially, the billionaires feared that if people in Solano County knew it was them, they would have stopped selling them the land they wanted.
Billionaires Spent $800 Million on Land for California Forever
The large group of the Silicon Valley billionaires involved with the project, including LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, philanthropist Laurene Powell Jobs, and venture capitalist Marc Andreessen, have spent a whopping $800 million on 140 plots of land in Solano County.
The county lies just 60 miles northeast of San Francisco and 35 miles southwest of Sacramento, California’s capital city, and directly next to the Travis Air Force Base.
What is the Plan for California Forever?
Now that the cat’s out of the bag, the Flannery Associates have explained exactly why they purchased an incredible 78 square miles of land in Northern California: They want to build a new “green city” with ample housing powered by solar energy.
However, while the group claims that their plan is to build tens of thousands of new houses, something that California desperately needs, many worry that the real idea is “to create a city for the elite.”
People Doubt that the Investors Even Know How to Build Their Dream City
The first problem many government officials and local residents have with the proposed city is that the investors actually have no idea what they’re doing.
Congressman Thompson met with Flannery Associates and was less than impressed with their lack of understanding of the county, as well as the financials of the project. Apparently, in the meeting, the Silicon Valley investors expected to be praised for their project, but Thompson reported that they don’t even have a solid plan yet.
Most Local Residents Are Against the California Forever Plan
Many local residents believe that even if the plan was well thought out and financially viable, they still wouldn’t want it to go ahead.
The rural county is currently home to 450,000 people, many of whom are farmers and specifically live in the area because of its rural and natural charm. And although the California Forever project claims they will build houses for the middle class, residents are doubtful that they’ll be able to afford the new “elite” homes.
One Local Mayor Has Spoken Out in Favor of the Project
Within an onslaught of backlash, one mayor is speaking out in favor of California Forever.
Rio Vista Mayor Ron Kott explained his opinion to the press, “If it’s done correctly, I think there’s a lot of opportunities for the county. Their tax revenue base will increase quite a bit. So there’s going to be a big windfall from that. Property values would probably go up around here as well even further. And so I think from those perspectives it’s good.”
The Debate Continues: Is it Really About the Plan or About Who’s Proposing It?
However, it seems that Kott may be alone in his praise for the project. And of the many who are against it, some are citing financial issues, while others seem to simply hate the idea of Silicon Valley investors taking over Northern California.
U.S. Representative John Garamendi stated, “You big wealthy Silicon Valley billionaires, you’re party to all of this. This is the kind of people you are? This is how you want to operate? What they’ve managed to do is to totally poison the well.”
Many Wonder if the Project is Good for California
With some residents and politicians on both sides of the debate, the question remains as to whether the project will actually help or hurt the area and the state as a whole.
Princess Washington, mayor of Suisun City, said she thinks the California Forever plan is not the way to improve the state: “Economic blight is everywhere. So why do you need to spend upwards of a billion dollars to create a brand new city when you have all these other things that can be achieved throughout the Bay Area?”
Investors Promise Economic Growth to Solano County
One clear upside to the project would be the jobs it produces. It will take hundreds of locals to build tens of thousands of homes, and even after they’re built, the new restaurants and businesses created to sustain the community will also need employees.
One mother from Solano County stated, “Instead of watching our kids leave, we have the opportunity to build a new community that attracts new employers, creates good paying local jobs, builds homes in walkable neighborhoods, leads in environment stewardship, and fuels a growing tax base to serve the county at large.”
Flannery Associates Are Working to Win Over Local Residents
Before any building can begin, the investors within Flannery Associates need to convince the residents of Solano County to vote to allow the land to be used for an urban landscape.
And the group is working hard to do so by emailing surveys and promoting the project throughout the county. The campaign will likely take months, if not years, and there is no way to know yet if California Forever will actually be built.