Jan Sramek, a teenager from the Czech Republic, successfully persuaded the local government to bring broadband internet to his town. Now, he is leading a group of Silicon Valley moguls in a plan to build a new city in Northern California.
However, this ambitious project is likely to face significant political and regulatory challenges. The slow-growth ordinance in Solano County may need to be overridden, and the project will also have to navigate environmental rules, lawsuits, and potential conflicts with various state agencies.
Mark Friedman, a real estate developer, doubts the project’s viability, calling it a venture by “tech guys with a lot of money and a ton of hubris diving into another business that they can’t possibly understand.”
The project’s financial backers have spent $900 million acquiring land in Solano County over the past five years. The secretive nature of this land acquisition raised concerns among elected officials and prompted federal investigations.
Now, Flannery Associates, the company behind the purchases, is working to address these concerns and build support among politicians and voters. The project, if successful, could bring economic development to the region, which is currently the poorest in the Bay Area.
The proposed city’s precise location is still unclear, but it is expected to involve the development of agricultural land in Solano County. Flannery Associates may also use some of the acquired land for conservation programs and recreational amenities to gain political favor.
However, residents and local officials have concerns about the impact of the project, including issues such as public utilities, adjacent land prices, and gentrification.
Flannery Associates will face significant challenges in gaining support for the project. Proximity to Travis Air Force Base may lead to federal pushback, and labor and environmental groups have already expressed their opposition.
Local opposition is also expected, as many residents moved to Solano County to escape development and traffic. Political consultant David Townsend suggests that the project could face years of opposition and delays.
Holly Secon contributed reporting.