In 2018, an unknown company began buying land about 100 kilometers northeast of San Francisco, between the city and the California capital, Sacramento. Flannery Associates soon became the talk of Solano County because of its interest in all the parcels of land, both cultivated and abandoned, that characterize this part of the state. Money was not a problem: the public was willing to pay several times the market price of agricultural land to sell it to the most reluctant farmers.
Flannery gradually became the largest landowner in the entire county, especially in rural areas. It has about 20,000 hectares of land, about twice the size of the city of Barcelona. When his property almost completely surrounded Travis Air Force Base and began to encircle Fairfield, population 120,000, Flannery’s intentions became a matter of national security and the situation escalated into the media.
This thread blew up a few days ago. The community had been buying land for five years, but no one in Solano knew who they were or what they were doing. “They are extremely secretive. I’ve never seen anything like it. Glenn Zook, an adviser to the county government, told ABC News in early August. “It’s somewhat shrouded in mystery — there’s a lot of speculation,” agreed Solano District 5 Supervisor Mitch Mashburn.
The mystery was lifted last week. Flannery Associates contacted local politicians and explained that their plan is to build a new city for tens of thousands of people. He has to build it from scratch because he wants the city to be completely sustainable, run entirely on renewable energy, and designed to facilitate public transportation or water use.
The curtain on who is behind Flannery Associates has also dropped. A New York Times investigation revealed that its partners include the cream of Silicon Valley’s major venture investors. The elite who 25 years ago turned the valley into the world technological capital it is today.
Among them is Michael Moritz, who retired in July after 40 years at the Sequoia capital fund, in which he participated in the takeoff of Google, YouTube, the first Yahoo, Paypal or Skyscanner. Also Marc Andreessen, co-founder and main partner of Andreessen Horowitz, arguably the most important investment fund in the startup ecosystem today and one of the biggest financial partners of cryptocurrency companies.
The list continues with Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn and a major investor in artificial intelligence companies, including OpenAI; Lauren Powell Jobs, widow of Steve Jobs, the fund manager who manages his fortune and is considered the richest woman in the entire technology industry; Or brothers John and Patrick Collison, co-founders of the Stripe payment platform and with a combined fortune of $11,000 million.
The mastermind behind the plan appears to be a former Goldman Sachs trader named Ian Sramek, 36, who also headed the company. In total, all of them spent about 900 million dollars to buy land. Now remains the most difficult part of the project.
Some Solano residents were relieved to learn the identity of the group now known to the county as Flannery. They feared worse than his plan to build a city that had already earned the nickname “Utopian” in the country. Others are not, because the secrecy with which the community has carried out its plans for the past five years and the fear of losing its way of life outweighs the a priori benevolent plan of the Silicon Valley elite.
“There are sheep farms, there are cattle ranches, and guys who grow hay and flowers,” Ashley Morrill, 40, told New York Times reporters in Solano a few days ago. “That’s what people do. There are livestock and things to store the goods.’ Others who also see their life plans in jeopardy include a cleaning business owner who came to Solano to “escape the city” and raise her children in the countryside.
Buying land will not be enough to build the city they want Flannery. Solano has several ordinances that support the region’s “slow growth” that must be repealed before the project can be implemented. Repeal, which in any case is voted for by the country’s population of about 450,000.
Therefore, the Flannery Asociados must now begin a political campaign to convince their future neighbors that not only will the city not interfere with their way of life, but that they will benefit from their presence. Fairfield Mayor Kathryn Moe reported that residents of the city have received a survey asking for their opinions on “a description of an initiative that could be in Solano County next year.”
“This project includes a new city with tens of thousands of new homes, a large solar energy farm, gardens with more than a million new trees, and more than ten thousand acres of new parks and open space,” the study continues.
SFGate, a local San Francisco store, had access to the survey And it reports that the questions suggest it’s part of a “broad market research campaign.” The poll asks Solano residents if they feel more inclined to support the project after reading certain statements such as:
- “Solano County residents will have priority and down payment assistance to purchase or rent homes in this new development.”
- “This will replace Solano County’s current aqueduct.”
- “It will be financed entirely with money from the private sector.”
- “It is run by a group of architects and planners who are interested in building livable and sustainable communities, not by typical developers.”
- “It is funded by a group of California businesses and wealthy families committed to the future of our state.”
The Fall of San Francisco
Although Flannery Asociados is not about San Francisco, the truth is that the launch of the initiative coincides with the beginning of the decline of the city where many Silicon Valley professionals live. What started as a serious housing problem that left thousands homeless has become a drug epidemic that kills 1 person every 10 hours from an overdose in the city.
That’s because fentanyl, an opioid known as a “zombie drug” for the state it leaves those who consume it. The city that houses the world’s technological mecca has been split into two: one that is riding high on multinational companies and, on the other hand, a city that is suffering and dying on the streets because of synthetic drugs.
Source: El Diario