Jan Sramek, a former trader at Goldman Sachs and the boss of California Forever, has a big plan. He wants to build a new city in a rural area called Solano County, northeast of San Francisco, and he has support from wealthy people in Silicon Valley. This Wednesday, he told voters about his idea to create a city where people can walk everywhere and it is not too expensive to live. However, for his plan to work, people must vote and say “yes” in November to transform agricultural land into an urban space.

Sramek’s idea is to build at least 20,000 homes between Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay Area in the countryside. To do this, people will need to vote to change rules from 1984 that protect farmland. His company, California Forever, has been quietly buying land in the area, worth over $800 million, making some local people suspicious.

He thinks this new city could help California, where people need help finding affordable houses. Sramek says it could bring back the “California Dream” – a feeling that anything’s possible in California. As Sramek puts it, the project could be a turning point for California, offering a new path forward.

The new city would be close to Travis Air Force Base, which could be suitable for businesses that work with the military. Sramek’s plan is focused on making homes that people like teachers and firefighters can afford.

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Not everyone is happy with this idea. Some people, including an influential politician and environmental groups like the Sierra Club, are worried about how this city might hurt the environment and use up a lot of water. They’re also not happy about how Sramek’s company has been buying the land, sometimes even taking local farmers to court when they didn’t want to sell their land.

Facing these challenges, the project’s 83-page initiative, now with county elections, needs a ballot title and summary before signature collection can commence. The campaign requires approximately 13,000 signatures to bring the measure to the November ballot.

With financial backing from influential figures like Laurene Powell Jobs, Reid Hoffman, and Marc Andreessen, a costly ballot battle looms. However, it’s uncertain if the people who don’t like the plan have enough money to fight against it. 

Sramek detailed his plans at a presentation in Rio Vista near the proposed site. He talked about a community of 50,000 people with everything close by, like stores and schools. In the future, he hopes the city could grow to 400,000 people. This depends on creating at least 15,000 jobs that pay well. They plan to spend $400 million to help local people and military families buy homes. This money will also help build affordable housing for older people, veterans, and farm workers. 

Bill Carrick, who is well-informed about politics, says Sramek’s team has a tough job ahead. They must convince local people that this new city is a good idea. Many voters are skeptical about rich people coming into their area with big plans. 

Sramek is okay with the possible $10 million campaign cost. He’s focused on making his dream of a sustainable community come true. His company, California Forever, has acquired over 78 square miles of farmland since 2017 for this project. 

On the day of Sramek’s presentation, some people outside the building said they were worried and critics voiced their fears over inadequate infrastructure to support the proposed growth. But inside, supporters like artist Radhika Lynette expressed enthusiasm for the project.

In a state where the housing crisis looms large, this initiative stands as a pivotal moment, potentially redefining the future of community living in California. What happens next depends on what the people of California decide in November – will they go for this new dream, or will they think it’s just too much?