Flannery Associates, the company responsible for the controversial land acquisitions near San Francisco, which were later revealed as part of a secret plan to build a new city with funding from tech leaders, has launched a website for the proposed city called California Forever. The website presents an idyllic vision of a walkable and green city by the bay, showcasing sunny pictures and promising amenities and benefits for residents.
According to the website, California Forever aims to deliver what surveys indicate residents want: good local jobs, walkability, and safety. The text also vaguely promises not to disrupt nearby agriculture and to establish solar farms. Furthermore, the company pledges to create walkable neighborhoods, help address infrastructure challenges, and support the nearby Travis Air Force base.
The brainchild behind this ambitious project is Jan Sramek, a former Goldman Sachs trader who founded Flannery Associates. Sramek successfully convinced Stripe CEO Patrick Collison and other prominent tech figures such as LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman to invest in the venture. Over time, the company secretly acquired over 50,000 acres of land around an Air Force base located in Solano County, the poorest region in the area, as reported by The New York Times.
Solano County Administrator Bill Emlen revealed that Flannery Associates initially claimed to be investing in family farms and intended to continue farming and grazing activities, as per The San Francisco Chronicle. However, Emlen commented that their policies had always been to focus on large-scale residential development within established cities.
California State Senator Bill Dodd, who was approached by Sramek and a political consultant from Flannery Associates to convey an apology, expressed skepticism about the project. Dodd believed that the group was off to a bad start if they wanted to successfully build a new city, as reported by The New York Times.
The newly launched California Forever website features images of the proposed city, which are likely generated by artificial intelligence, including scenes of a sunny green town nestled amidst rolling hills, farmlands, and windmills. The website describes a city that prioritizes walkability, renewable energy through solar farms, open spaces, and the availability of well-paying local jobs. The company even expresses interest in exploring ways to support homeownership through down-payment assistance programs.
However, the website lacks specific details about the city’s population, size, and sustainability plans. The included FAQ section addresses potential concerns by vaguely referring to the need for improvements to the North Bay Aqueduct. Additionally, a significant portion of the site is dedicated to California Forever’s plans to engage with locals through surveys and a local advisory board, aiming to gain community support for the project.
While the California Forever website presents an enticing and promising vision of a new city, many questions and concerns remain. Critics and skeptics argue that the lack of specific information and the secretive acquisition of land raise doubts about the project’s feasibility and intentions. As the plans for California Forever unfold, it will be crucial for the company to provide transparent and comprehensive details to gain the trust and support of stakeholders and the community at large.