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Renderings reveal Silicon Valley titans’ utopia: ‘California Forever’


The secretive California firm tasked with building a city for Silicon Valley billionaires unveiled the first renderings of its plans late Thursday – even as local officials vow to block the utopian techie metropolis from ever becoming a reality.

The artistic renderings from Flannery Associates and its parent company, dubbed “California Forever,” included idyllic sketches of children riding bikes on tree-lined streets, kayakers traversing a calm river and people fishing along a beautiful waterway with mansions stacked on a scenic, hilly backdrop.

The project’s organizers — backed by tech titans including LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, philanthropist Laurene Powell Jobs and venture capitalist Marc Andreessen — acknowledged local skepticism about the city, admitting their activities had “understandably, created interest, concern, and speculation.”

“Now that we’re no longer limited by confidentiality, we are eager to begin a conversation about the future of Solano County — a conversation with all of you,” the group said.

Other pictures published on a newly revealed “California Forever” website show workers installing solar panels and local residents of futuristic city eating food under umbrellas in a town square area.


California Forever is the parent company of Flannery Associates.
California Forever

The idealized renderings are a far cry from the current reality on the ground in Solano County, where Flannery has become the largest landowner.

The land is sandwiched between Napa Valley, Sacramento and San Francisco — the latter of which is currently embroiled in a major affordable housing crisis.

Local officials told The Post that the 55,000 acres the group has acquired consist of mostly dry, inhospitable farmland beset by harsh winds, turbines and abandoned gas wells.


California Forever
The rendering shows local residents board a cable car.
California Forever

California Forever
Residents eat lunch on a shady street in one of the renderings.
California Forever

Flannery had already infuriated local leaders by snapping up huge chunks of land around the critical Travis Air Force Base — and doing so with such secrecy that lawmakers feared China might be behind the purchases.

Among the biggest critics of the utopian city project is US Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.), who was less than impressed after holding his first meeting with California Forever’s organizers on Friday morning.

“I know they have not thought this through and I’m absolutely convinced that the wealthy billionaires that financed this did not do their due diligence,” Garamendi told The Post.

Garamendi said the firm’s leaders “gave no indication whatsoever of how this city would be governed” should it be approved.

Typically, new cities must seek approval to be incorporated, with their own mayor and city council, or fall under the jurisdiction of an existing county, which could create a special district and board of directors to helm the development.

The utopian city would be extremely costly and face various obstacles, including a lack of local infrastructure, federal and local regulations governing urban development in Solano County and the fact that most of the land is zoned for agricultural, not residential use.

They have “a whole encyclopedia of problems that they have to overcome,” Garamendi said.

Even after the group’s deep-pocketed investors were revealed, Garamendi and others had ripped Flannery’s “strong-arm mobster techniques” to wrest property from unwilling landowners and raised concern about a city’s potential impact on Travis, a key local economic driver and national military hub.


California Forever
Workers install solar panels in a rendering of the utopian city.
Getty Images for TIME

California Forever
Flannery is Solano County’s largest landowner.
California Forever

Jan Sramek, a former Goldman Sachs trader, was confirmed to be the project’s CEO.

“Jan and his wife Naytri recently purchased their first-ever home in Solano, and they are excited to live here with their toddler daughter, her soon-to-arrive little brother, and golden retriever Bruce,” the website says.

California Forever said it currently owns “about half of the properties” in the area where it intends to build and added that its project “would not change the zoning of other landowners’ properties — they would remain zoned for agriculture, and those landowners would be able to continue their agricultural operations.


California Forever
Local officials have vowed to fight the project.
California Forever

“In addition, on our lands, the project would include a variety of land uses — a new community, but also solar farms and open space, including both agriculture and habitat conservation.”

The group added that its pan would “protect and support Travis Air Force Base, including by respecting Solano County’s official Travis Reserve Area, which is a security buffer for the protection of Travis Air Force base established by Solano County in its General Plan, and subsequently clarified through a recent ordinance.”


Reid Hoffman
LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman backs the project.
AFP via Getty Images

Marc Andreessen
Venture capitalist Marc Andreessen is one of the project’s investors.
Steve Jennings

The organizers admitted on the website that they had “completed surveys and interviews with about 2,000 residents of Solano County” in recent years – including a widely criticized push poll that asked locals how they would vote if the city was brought up on the ballot next year.

The California Forever project’s backers include “Marc Andreessen, Stripe co-founders Patrick and John Collison, Chris Dixon, John Doerr, Nat Friedman, Daniel Gross, Reid Hoffman, Michael Moritz, Laurene Powell Jobs, and the California investment firm Andreessen Horowitz,” the website said.

“Our company is committed to Solano and this project for the long term,” the site says.



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