California Forever is a company aiming to develop a new city across 50,000 acres of undeveloped land in Solano County, California. The company was founded in 2017 by Jan Sramek, who also serves as the CEO. California Forever is the parent company of Flannery Associates, which has purchased the land for California Forever.
The city's concept created by California Forever would hold a population of 75,000. Tens of thousands of new homes would be built, along with a solar energy farm, over 10,000 acres of parks and open outdoor space, and orchards with millions of trees. Much of the purchased land is already equipped with wind turbines, which would all be replaced with new ones. Before California Forever can begin building, Solano County voters must approve a ballot initiative that would allow the undeveloped land to be used for urban purposes. The land is currently zoned for agricultural use only, and Solano County’s Orderly Growth Initiative prohibits landowners from creating residential subdivisions on agricultural land zones. CEO Sramek stated that California Forever is "quite serious about putting this on the November 2024 ballot" and would soon "be putting forward much more specific plans." California Forever has attracted investors, including Marc Andreessen, Andreessen Horowitz (a16z), Patrick Collison, John Collison, Chris Dixon, John Doerr, Nat Friedman, Daniel Gross, Reid Hoffman, Michael Moritz, and Laurene Powell Jobs.
Flannery Associates began purchasing land in Solano County, California, for California Forever in 2018. The land it owns is primarily located in the southeastern area of the county. Solano County was chosen for the project because California Forever's founder, Jan Sramek, "fell in love with the area" during fishing trips he had taken on the California Delta. As of August 2023, Flannery owns over 140 properties in Solano County and has paid over $800 million for them. Flannery Associates is said to be the largest single landholder in Solano County. It has purchased nearly all of the land surrounding the city of Rio Vista and about half of all properties in eastern Solano County. Flannery has sued multiple Solano County landowners who refused to sell their land, accusing them of conspiring to "overcharge" out of "endless greed." Flannery is seeking a total of $510 million in damages from the lawsuits. Some of the parties unwilling to sell are farmers who are “land rich and money poor” and whose ranches date back multiple generations.
Flannery's land purchases were not revealed to the public until August 2023 in order to avoid short-term speculation regarding the purpose of the land. The secrecy behind the transactions drew the attention of various government officials and agencies like the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and US Department of the Treasury. The proximity of the purchased properties to the Travis Air Force Base raised national security concerns and suspicions that Flannery Associates may be a foreign adversary. As a result, the company is now under investigation by the FBI.
In August 2023, residents of Fairfield, California, began receiving a survey via text message regarding a building project of a new city consisting of tens of thousands of new homes, orchards, a solar energy farm, and thousands of acres of open outdoor space. California Forever's website was launched on August 31, 2023. Also released on that day were image renderings of the company's proposed city. The images depicted neighborhoods of European or Mediterranean architectural-style houses amongst rivers and scenic hillsides. A software analysis of the images by Hive revealed that they had been generated using an artificial intelligence (AI)-based photo program called Midjourney. The renderings contained several errors that a human illustrator would not be expected to make, such as the missing foot of a girl riding a bicycle, an asymmetrical plane, and human faces that appear to point in both directions.
For the rest of 2023 and into 2024, California Forever stated it will focus more on community engagement and educating the locals of Solano County about the project. The company aims to meet with community organizations and as many local residents as possible to gain their support. Founder and CEO Sramek said, “What we want to do in the next four months is hear from everyone about how we could design it to work for them.” He stated that California Forever has already met with several local politicians about the project and aims to continue meeting with elected officials and other local groups, including the Solano County Farm Bureau, Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club, and Travis Air Force Base.