Tech billionaires eye utopian city in rural California

Having destroyed their hometown of San Francisco, a new city is planned for rural Solano County.

For years, a mystery has lingered around exactly who was buying up tens of thousands of acres of empty land around Travis Air Force Base, located approximately 50 miles northeast of San Francisco. A company called “Flannery Associates LLC” was buying up scrubland on three sides of the base. The concern was that the purchases were being done on behalf of a foreign power.

Well, last week, the New York Times solved the mystery: the buyers behind Flannery are some of the biggest names in Silicon Valley. (Coverage of the story can be found on SF Gate and the U.K. Daily Mail, which are not paywalled.) The Times (and SF Gate) names names,

According to the Times, several of the individual names behind the Flannery Associates shield are Bay Area mainstays, including Michael Moritz, the billionaire tech investor; Reid Hoffman, the venture capitalist who co-founded LinkedIn; and Marc Andreessen, of Andreessen Horowitz fame. The coalition also includes Laurene Powell Jobs, widow of the late Apple CEO, and is overall a “who’s who of Silicon Valley,” the Times wrote.

A quick search of those four names in the Open Secrets campaign finance database reveals that all four are prominent donors to the Democratic Party and progressive political causes, both inside and outside of California. (Alone among the four, Andreessen has also donated to Republicans).

The object of this exercise is something out of a 1970’s science fiction movie. The Daily Mail reports,

A secret group which bought 52,000 acres of land around a California air base has sent locals a survey gauging support for a mysterious ‘new city with thousands of homes’.

Flannery has reportedly acquired 52,000 acres in Solano at a cost of $800 million. Those 52,000 acres represent more than 81 squares miles, significantly larger than San Francisco’s 47 square miles. Flannery is now the largest single landowner in Solano County.

The Daily Mail adds this description of the billionaires’ vision,

It pitches a vision for a new city with a ‘college town feel’ comprising new schools, housing and restaurants, and an emphasis on green transport. 

All powered with renewable energy, of course. SF Gate reports that this vision may make its way to a referendum next year in the county.

For all of their collective business acumen, it appears that they vastly overpaid. Flannery has filed a lawsuit against the reportedly reluctant land sellers for charging the mystery firm premium prices for the scrubland, Reuters reports.

Of course, the billionaires wouldn’t need a new city if they hadn’t let their original one collapse into disorder.

San Francisco is now notorious for their open-air drug markets, massive homeless encampments, and organized shoplifting gangs. You can be assured that none of that will be allowed in the billionaires’ new city.