Report previously reported on an investigation into the purchase of 55,000 acres of dry farmland near a U.S. Air Force base in California.
From our prior report:
A company called Flannery Associates LLC reportedly spent nearly $1 billion since 2018 acquiring land in Solano County near the base.
Travis Air Force Base, approximately 54 miles from San Francisco, “houses large transport aircraft used for refueling smaller planes and sending aid and munitions around the world,” Daily Mail reports.
Authorities remain clueless to who’s behind the company and why they acquired the land around the base.
However, it appears the investigation has revealed the identities behind Flannery Associates.
According to The Guardian, a “cohort of Silicon Valley investors” backs the group.
The outlet reports the Silicon Valley elites purchased $800 million worth of agricultural and empty land “to build a utopian new town that will offer its thousands of residents reliable public transportation and urban living, all of which would operate using clean energy.”
Silicon Valley elites buy 55,000 acres to build a utopian city.https://t.co/ctqxdWIj4U
— Disclose.tv (@disclosetv) August 26, 2023
🚨Report: Silicon Valley elites purchase $800M of land to build a utopian city in northern California. pic.twitter.com/gd4Zbc3BOl
— The Calvin Coolidge Project (@TheCalvinCooli1) August 26, 2023
The Guardian reports:
The project was spearheaded by Jan Sramek, a 36-year-old former trader for the investment banking firm Goldman Sachs, and is backed by prominent Silicon Valley investors including Michael Moritz, a venture capitalist; Reid Hoffman, the co-founder of Linkedin; Laurene Powell Jobs, the founder of the philanthropic group Emerson Collective and wife of Steve Jobs; Marc Andreessen, an investor and software developer; Patrick and John Collison, the sibling co-founders of the payment processor Stripe; and the entrepreneurs Daniel Gross and Nat Friedman, the Times reported.
Though Flannery has been purchasing farmland and empty plots over the past five years it has only recently started interacting with local officials and residents, according to the Times and local reports.
Flannery has purchased land from farmers for several times more than the market value and become the biggest landowners in Solano county, an area 60 miles north-west of San Francisco. The land bought by the firm encircles Travis air force base in Fairfield, a city of about 120,000 residents and home to the Anheuser-Busch Co brewery and the Jelly Belly jelly bean factory.
Recently, Flannery has been meeting with local officials and representatives, according to the Times. It has also been sending out opinion polls to local residents to gauge their feelings on an initiative that could appear on Solano county voter’s ballots, according to the newspaper SF Gate.
“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,” a screenshot of the survey obtained by the newspaper reads.
With several of the mentioned names tied to the World Economic Forum, such as Reid Hoffman, Laurene Powell Jobs, and Michael Moritz, local residents should ask if inhabitants of this ‘utopian city’ will own nothing and be happy.
According to SFGate, a spokesperson reportedly confirmed that Flannery Associates is a collective of “Californians who believe that Solano County’s and California’s best days are ahead.”
The Times also reportedly viewed a pitch document Moritz had sent to a potential investor in 2017, in which he described building a walkable new city in an underdeveloped and inexpensive part of the Bay Area. SFGATE reported earlier this week that a survey had circulated to Solano County residents asking for their opinions on the potential development of “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 survey was the first indication of what Flannery Associates may be planning to do with the land. The only other clue came from a lawsuit that Flannery Associates filed in May, which accused area landowners of colluding to drive up prices after learning of the investment group’s interest in the properties. As SFGATE’s Katie Dowd reported earlier this month:
“Despite its land grab, Flannery Associates has never made public what it intends to do with 52,000 acres of Solano County — an empire that is nearly double the size of the city of San Francisco. In the suit, Flannery only details the ways in which it won’t alter the land: It claims it told landowners that they could keep ‘existing income streams from wind energy and natural gas storage,’ could ‘continue using these properties rent-free for decades,’ and would receive ‘significant grants from Flannery for charitable giving, to be used at the [landowners’] discretion to support local schools and other non-profits.’”