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Our Main Concerns

Since Flannery Associates’ plans for the “California Forever” development were made public through the press in August 2023, numerous local leaders, residents, and organizations voiced concerns around impacts to:

  • working lands and the County’s agricultural industry,

  • the costly implications of increased sprawl development and associated disinvestment in existing cities,

  • the impacts to native habitats and natural resources,

  • and the significant climate and environmental impacts this development would bring.

Here are some of the primary concerns with the proposed development from our coalition Solano Together:

01

Building a new city would be an irresponsible use of public resources with severe impacts to existing cities’

Buying up agricultural land to build a sprawling community that drains resources away from existing cities while paving over working lands is far from a new concept. Sprawl development has been found to be associated with urban blight due and a lack of investment and property maintenance in the city center (Fesselmeyer and Seah, HUD, 2022).

 

Flannery Associate’s proposal is nothing new. When considering that Solano is home to three of the most diverse cities in California (Vallejo, Fairfield, and Suisun City), the development of “California Forever” would come with huge equity implications in addition to major public losses. Solano County Tax revenue, infrastructure, investment, and new economic development opportunities should go to Solano County’s seven existing cities that desperately need them, rather than to a new city. 

02

The “California Forever” proposal is in clear violation of the County’s Orderly Growth Initiative—which is why Flannery must go to the ballot in November to overturn it.

Born out of a countywide effort to protect Solano’s open spaces and agricultural industry, voters passed the first Orderly Growth Initiative in 1984, which focuses growth within existing cities and  prohibits development of agriculturally-zoned lands without voter approval. It was reaffirmed by voters in 2008 (meaning it will be up for renewal in 2028). Since then, orderly growth principles are now firmly embedded in the County’s General Plan (2008) and remain a core value of Solano residents.

03

Extensive development in the Montezuma Hills presents major threats to habitats, water security, climate resilience, and Solano’s agricultural industry.

Flannery Associates has tried to depict their land holdings in Southeastern Solano County as barren and lifeless.  But that is far from the truth. 

 

Generations of farmers and ranchers have stewarded this land through sustainable grazing and dryland farming techniques that are both highly productive and require very low water use. These ranchers do far more than supply food and natural resources. They have invaluable knowledge of the land and how to manage it through drought conditions, wet winters, and rising temperatures—all of which are likely to increase into the future.  

 

The Montezuma Hills and surrounding area are also home to protected habitats, carbon-rich delta soils, and is a hotspot for hawks and other avian species as part of the Pacific Flyway. The Jepson Prairie region houses vernal pools and playa lakes which support threatened and endangered native wildlife, such as fairy shrimp, California tiger salamanders, the Delta green ground beetle, and 15 rare and endangered plant species. Flannery Associates owns 60% of the County's unprotected freshwater marshes, 50% of the County's high value vernal pool conservation land, and 34% of the region's priority areas for conservation. These high-value conservation lands are not just nice to have—they are vital for a well-balanced ecosystem and are lands intended for conservation as part of the County’s Habitat Conservation Plan. Without this land, there would be huge barriers to growth in existing cities. 

04

Long-term threats to Travis Air Force Base

As the largest employer in Solano County and a core national security asset, the long-term operational needs and security of Travis Air Force Base would be put at risk if development were allowed to surround the base. The Travis Reserve Area Resource Overlay Zone and its corresponding Compatibility Zones are part of the existing County General Plan and used to ensure that land uses are compatible with Travis’ operations.Flannery’s land holdings are nearly completely located in these zones. 

05

“California Forever” threatens not only local water resources, but water security across the state

Water is a particularly scarce resource in rural Solano County, an already climate-stressed area that is susceptible to prolonged drought and extreme heat. The region is grappling with impacts of extreme heat, prolonged periods of drought, and greater variability in rainfall year-to-year.

 

Flannery Associates faces multiple challenges to secure a stable water source for their proposed community. 

 

The investor group claims that they have sufficient water rights without joining a potential North Bay Aqueduct expansion and would be looking to buy additional rights, but their proposed alternatives also present challenges. Records indicate that they hold water rights for 5,330 acre feet of water per year, which could potentially support roughly 60,000 residents. But first, Flannery would have to petition the water board for a change of use from irrigation to urban uses.

 

The investors group’s proposed development presents significant additional challenges to groundwater supplies. Eastern Solano County is a key source for groundwater replenishment that would be severely impacted by urban development with additions of impermeable surfaces and infrastructure that would reduce groundwater recharge capabilities. 

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