Tuesday, September 5, 2023

This would be an example of my concerns with naive YIMBYism.

Silicon Valley billionaires (including the co-founder of at leading YIMBY advocacy group) paving over unethically acquired farmland to build a car-dependent upscale exurb between SF and Sacramento in the middle of a flood plain next to a nature preserve.

Remember, reducing sprawl and therefore carbon emissions is one of the main promises of the movement, but Solano County, measured from the county seat, Fairfield, is more than forty miles from either San Francisco or Sacramento. San Jose (the Bay Area's largest city, the center of tech industry, and the spot that really needs the housing) is almost eighty miles away. The proposed site would be a few miles farther still.

Probably the most dangerous part of the YIMBY movement (at least in the form it's best known by) is the straw-man lie that this is about whether to build when it's actually about where to build and about the wisdom of letting market forces and the profit motive make that decision. There are plenty of places we can develop where housing is more badly needed, where development will reduce commute times and carbon footprints, where there is minimal danger of fire or flood, and where productive farmland won't be bulldozed and you won't have to lie to land owners to get them to sign over their property.

 Silicon Valley elites revealed as investors behind $800M land grab
by Megan Fan Munce, Shira Stein, J.K. Dineen -- Aug. 25, 2023

The investors behind a mysterious company buying thousands of acres in Solano County have been revealed to be a group of Silicon Valley power players. 

Flannery Associates caught the attention of both local politicians and several federal government agencies after it spent more than $800 million buying  140 properties in Solano County over the past five years, purportedly to build an entire new city.

But until Friday, where exactly the money was coming from was unclear. 

The New York Times first reported that the company’s investors included Laurene Powell Jobs, owner of the Atlantic and widow of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, and Andreessen Horowitz, a Menlo Park venture capital firm that’s backed companies including Skype and Lyft, among a host of other prominent Silicon Valley figures.

A source with knowledge of the project confirmed the list of investors to the Chronicle. The Chronicle agreed not to name the person, who was not authorized to speak to the media. 

The original man behind the idea, the Times reported, is Jan Sramek, whose LinkedIn account says is a former Goldman Sachs trader. 


Along with Moritz and Powell Jobs, the project has also received funding from LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, Stripe co-founders Patrick and John Collison, and independent investors Daniel Gross and Nat Friedman, the Times reported. Friedman is also the co-founder of California YIMBY, a pro-housing advocacy group.

Andreessen Horowitz general partners Chris Dixon and Marc Andreessen [of course -- MP] are also individually backing the company alongside their firm.


The security concerns for Travis Air Force Base endure, even with this new information, [Rep.] Garamendi said. “Travis Air Force Base handles more personnel and material than any other air force base in the United States,” he said. “At this moment, C-17s and C-5s are being loaded with munitions for Ukraine.

“There are numerous ways in which those movements can be disrupted by any organization or person that is adjacent to the air base,” he said. The county has zoning requirements that severely restrict wind and solar farms within miles of the base, so as not to disrupt radar.

Both lawmakers said they are also concerned about protecting family farmers. “They just can’t displace our family farmers; these are people who make a living feeding American households, and that’s totally inappropriate to think that they can come in and just drive them out of business,” Thompson said.

“Flannery Associates used strong-arm mobster tactics to purchase the land, including suing farmers — generational farm families — promising that they can continue to operate, and then throwing them off the land,” Garamendi said.


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