Starting a conversation about eastern Solano County
An opportunity for a new community, good paying local jobs, solar farms, and open space
Solano County sits at the crossroads of Northern California. Nestled between Sacramento, the Delta, San Francisco, and Napa Valley, Solano perfectly captures the diversity of California’s landscapes and its people. It is the home of agriculture and green energy industries that sustainably feed and power our state, strong middle-class communities, and our nation’s busiest Air Force base. Eastern Solano County is also an area ready for a new community. We’re excited to tell our story.
California Forever is the parent company of Flannery Associates. Over the last few years, Flannery has purchased over 50,000 acres in Solano County. To date, our company has been quiet about our activities. This has, understandably, created interest, concern, and speculation. Now that we have purchases these properties and are ready to announce our project, we are eager to begin a conversation about the future of Solano County a conversation with all of you.
Like much of our state, Solano County faces many challenges, but also possesses countless opportunities. Over the past few years, we have completed surveys and interviews with about 2,000 residents of Solano County and your voices were clear. Residents want more opportunities to buy homes in safe, walkable communities. Good paying local jobs, so they can both live and work in the county. Better funding to improve schools, promote public safety, and reduce homelessness, as well as resources to invest in infrastructure for transportation, water, and wildfire protection.
Last month, 81% of Solano parents we surveyed said that their kids won’t be able to find a future in their own neighborhood when they grow up.
These challenges often have separate, unrelated causes, but they could share a common solution. 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 environmental stewardship, and fuels a growing tax base to serve the county at large. Solano is fortunate to have the right location for a project like this in the eastern part of the county.
The area today
This is not just our idea. In the past, when preparing long-range plans for the Bay Area, the Association of Bay Area Governments ("Regional Plan 1970-1990") and the U.S. Department of Commerce ("Future Development of the San Francisco Bay Area, 1960-2020") both concluded that to keep our region affordable, prosperous, and balanced, new industries and communities could be built in eastern Solano. The area had low fire risk, access to water, and was strategically located in the middle of the larger Northern California region. All that remains true today.
Let’s dust off those plans, and breathe new life into them.
California Forever was founded in 2017 by our CEO, Jan Sramek. After moving to California a decade ago, Jan spent time in Solano County during fishing trips on the California Delta and fell in love with the area. Having previously lived in many of the world’s most walkable, livable, and sustainable towns and cities, Jan became interested in fusing what he learned about those livable communities with those old plans for eastern Solano. He became committed to a vision for the future of Solano County. Jan and his wife Naytri now live in Solano County with their toddler daughter, her soon-to-arrive little brother, and golden retriever Bruce.
This idea of building a new community and economic opportunity in eastern Solano seemed impossible on the surface, but after spending a lot of time learning about Solano and its people, Jan became convinced that with a thoughtful design, the right long-term patient investors, and strong partnerships with all stakeholders, there would be an opportunity to build a remarkable place for Solano residents, both current and the many generations to come.
To make sure we could do this right, our company raised capital from people who shared our long-term vision and belief that California’s best days are still ahead. Investors in California Forever include Marc Andreessen, 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. Our company is committed to Solano and this project for the long term.
Over the past few years, we have purchased over 50,000 acres in eastern Solano County, between Fairfield and Rio Vista. California Forever owns about half of the properties in this area. Other landowners own the remaining half. Our 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. 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. Our project 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.
We have also assembled a team of experts to design this project in partnership with all of you. In doing so, we intentionally found people who are not only world-class, but also local to the Bay Area, with a deep connection to this area and a shared commitment to solving Northern California’s most important challenges. Our growing team includes Gabriel Metcalf, B.H. Bronson Johnson, Jay Primus, AKQA, Carlson, Barbee & Gibson, CMG Landscape Architecture, ENGEO, EKI Environment & Water, Holland & Knight, Fehr & Peers, SITELAB Urban Studio, and many others.
With the land and team assembled, we are excited to finally close this first chapter and begin the phase of our work that matters most: our conversation with you.
Next, a conversation
This is the beginning of our decades-long collaboration with Solano’s residents, elected officials and agencies, as well as the many Solano stakeholders, including Travis Air Force Base, labor, business, agriculture, educators, police, fire, conservation, and many others.
To start, we are meeting with the elected representatives of Solano County. Second, so that we hear from each of you directly, we will be mailing a survey to every Solano household. Third, we are forming a Community Advisory Board of Solano citizens. Please send any nominations to email@example.com. Finally, we are working on opening offices in Vallejo, Fairfield and Vacaville, and will announce the locations once open. Come see us in person!
This is a project that must be not just designed with, but also approved by, all Solano residents. Solano County’s Orderly Growth Measure directs development into cities, and asks that new projects outside of cities be submitted to the voters for approval. We fully support these principles, and we will ultimately ask the voters to approve the project. The Orderly Growth Measure is the right approach to safeguard Solano, including our project, from sprawl and disorderly growth for many years to come.
California was built on its pioneering spirit, its boundless optimism, and the steadfast conviction that if we work hard, and together, that our best days still lie ahead, waiting to be built, for our children, and their children, and for all the generations to come. California Forever is committed to building a place that embodies these ideals. Join us.