Tech leaders to build private utopian city, citing ‘bad California policies’ — revealed as mystery buyers of land near military base

News & Politics

Silicon Valley elites in the technology and finance industries plan to construct a private utopian city near San Francisco, citing “bad California policies” as their inspiration, the New York Times reported.

Approximately 52,000 acres of land around Travis Air Force Base in Solano County, California, were purchased by Flannery Associates, a mystery firm, for over $800 million. Government officials raised national security concerns, noting that the investment group’s unknown and potentially foreign backers might have been motivated to purchase the land because of its proximity to a U.S. military base.

Some of the land was not for sale, but the group offered residents inflated prices for their properties, according to families. The land purchases, which started in 2018, make the firm the largest landowner in the county, SFGate reported.

Flannery Associates’ attorney previously claimed that the firm is controlled by American citizens and backed by U.S. investors. The group’s attorney added that the investors are attempting to “diversify their portfolio.”

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On Friday, the Times revealed the identities of those investors, including Andreessen Horowitz cofounder Marc Andreessen, Emerson Collective founder Laurene Powell Jobs, Sequoia Capital chair Michael Moritz, LinkedIn cofounder Reid Hoffman, Stripe cofounders Patrick and John Collison, and investors Daniel Gross and Nat Friedman. The group appears to be led by former Goldman Sachs trader Jan Sramek.

The technology and finance moguls plan to build a walkable city similar to Paris or the West Village in New York City. They anticipate that the project will create thousands of job opportunities.

A 2017 thesis written by Moritz and obtained by the Times revealed that the group plans to implement new forms of governance. Moritz claimed that the decision to build the city was due to “bad California policies.”

“This effort should relieve some of the Silicon Valley pressures we all feel — rising home prices, homelessness, congestion etc,” he stated. “If the plans materialize anywhere close to what is being contemplated, this should be a spectacular investment.”

Investors must work on zoning regulations to execute their plans since the land is currently zoned for agriculture.

According to SFGate, nearby residents of Fairfield received a survey last week offering a glimpse into the future project, described as having a “college town” feel.

“This project would include a new city with tens of thousands of new homes, a large solar energy farm, orchards with over a million new trees, and over ten thousand acres of new parks and open space,” the market research campaign stated.

Fairfield Mayor Catherine Moy explained that the group wants “to build a new city, but they still haven’t talked to anybody here.”

“We need that land around Travis Air Force Base protected,” Moy said. “They have plenty of land for a city — but they’re in for a fight. … I’m asking them to call me — let’s talk. This is not the way to go about making friends.”

Brian Brokaw, a representative for the group, told KABC-TV, “We care deeply about the future of Solano County and California and believe their best days are ahead. We are proud to partner on a project that aims to deliver access to good-paying jobs, affordable housing, clean energy, sustainable infrastructure, open space, and a healthy environment to residents of Solano County. We are excited to start working with residents and elected officials, as well as with Travis Air Force Base, on making that happen. That conversation starts next week, and we look forward to sharing more then.”

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