Home>Articles>Solano County Voting Officials Announce California Forever Project Will Be On November Ballot

California Forever rendering (Photo: California Forever)

Solano County Voting Officials Announce California Forever Project Will Be On November Ballot

Rezoning decision by voters will make or break plans for future city in county

By Evan Symon, June 13, 2024 2:45 am

Solano County elections officials announced on Tuesday that the venture capitalist-backed California Forever development plan, which would create a green city for up to 400,000 people in the majority rural county, had received enough validated signatures by voters to place the proposition on the November 2024 ballot, essentially letting voters decide if they want the city in their county or not.

Since 2017, California Forever has been buying 50,000 acres of farm and pasture land in Solano County in secret for $900 million. After the purchase was done in secret to avoid land speculation rises, the company drew up plans and started the process to rezone the land from agriculture to residential and commercial, with the city to be in the area between Travis Air Force Base and the city of Rio Vista.

As the Globe noted last month, “If the East Solano Plan as it is now called comes to pass it will transform rural Solano County—62 percent of its land is devoted to agriculture—into something quite different. At build-out some 400,000 people will live there, almost doubling Solano’s current population. Nearly 18,000 acres of pasture land will become urban or suburban; up will rise a small city of many thousands of new homes, office parks, office buildings, solar installations, new streets, widened highways, and all the infrastructure required to support all that.”

California Forever rendering (Photo: California Forever)

While there have been some supporters to the plan, including some in the county who want the economic benefits coming in, the vast majority of voters in the county have opposed the plan. According to an April poll, 70% of voters in Solano County are against California Forever. Many residents want to keep the country rural, with others noting that the city would have no real source of water and that Travis AFB would also likely to be negatively affected.  Amazingly, the project has brought an issue that both Republicans and Democrats have agreed to oppose, with business groups and environmentalists also oddly being on the same page in opposition.

“We did some polling outside supermarkets and other places out there last month for a campaign poll,” explained San Jose-based pollster Ricky Gordon to the Globe on Wednesday. “And we saw this. You know, people were torn on candidate support, who they are voting for in the Presidential election. You know, showing the polarization of where we are now. But through all that we had some people come in with, out of dozens and dozens of poll questionnaires in person or by phone, sometimes they had only a handful of people in support of the California Forever plan. It’s rare you see so many people agreeing on one thing like that.”

Major Opposition against California Forever

Despite the large amount of opposition, California Forever continued on with their signature gathering and media blitz, spending $2 million in the first quarter of 2024. Earlier this year, the group turned in the signatures it had gathered for the proposition. And on Tuesday evening it was announced that over 13,000 signatures had been verified – more than enough to send the question of rezoning and allowing the city to be built to the voters of Solano County.

While California Forever representatives appeared confident after the announcement, this was somewhat mitigated by representatives then saying that they would be spending a lot more on campaigning through November. It also isn’t going straight to the ballot either, as the Solano County Board of Supervisors will now look at the sample signature amount and get an impact report done.

“I think it’s really easy to say no to anything. But the reality is, we’ve spent the last 20 years saying no to everything in Solano County and in California and it’s gotten us nowhere,” explained California Forever CEO Jan Sramek. “The number of people that are a yes on this is going up every single day, you see in the numbers. And you see that in the endorsements for the initiative as well.”

Despite this and the issue going to voters this November, pollsters have said that even the most conservative figures have shown that the proposition is likely to fail.

“They’re essentially taking on everyone and promising all these jobs and housing,” added Gordon. “But it is all falling on deaf ears there. Residents have overwhelmingly said that they do not want this. They were lucky to get the number of signatures that they did. Every poll is just pointing to a no vote this November. If they had been open from the very beginning and not force people to sell and all that, maybe they would get more people on their side. But no. They were secretive and burned years where they could have gotten the public’s trust. And they are not gaining any support even with all their campaigning.

“They are going to need to take the L on this one in November according to all the data. All they’ll have is a bunch of farmland. They are severely underestimating the people of the county.”

More on the new Solano County proposition is due to come out soon.

As the Globe reported, Here is a list of a few of the big-time money people who are behind the development plan and its operational business arm, Flannery Associates, with much of the the money coming from outside the county:

• Reid Hoffman. $2.5 billion net worth. Cofounder Linked In.

• Laurene Powell Jobs. $13.5 billion. Philanthropist and widow of Apple cofounder Steve Jobs.

• Marc Andressen. $1.8 billion. Venture capitalist. Cofounder Netscape, seed investor Facebook.

• John Doerr. $3.3 billion. Kleiner Perkins VC.

• Michael Moritz. $6 billion. Former Sequoia Capital VC.

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5 thoughts on “Solano County Voting Officials Announce California Forever Project Will Be On November Ballot

  1. MAYBE if the state builds enough reservoirs to sustain this mega-development, MAYBE…
    Until then, NOPE!!!
    locals say no, and I support the ag folks, not the tech weenies

    1. CriticalDfence9, the water will come from the Sacramento River, which will reduce the water flow to the ocean and cause further impact to the salmon (yikes!). Look at the title of their project – California FOREVER. The answer to this project should be NEVER.

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