The development would start with nearly 20,000 homes for 50,000 residents. It could grow to 400,000 people.
SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The billionaire-backed group that's working to build a new city in Solano County filed a ballot initiative Wednesday to take to voters.
Below are renderings from California Forever created by SITELAB Urban Studio that give a glimpse of what this new city spanning 18,000 acres in Eastern Solano County would look like - including aerials of neighborhoods, safe slow streets, a downtown plaza with transit, family-friendly parks and open space, RV parkland, and walkable main streets.
"Our proposal is for a walkable, medium density, mixed-use community," said Gabriel Metcalf, the Director of Planning for California Forever. "This would be not just housing, jobs, parks, playgrounds, schools and grocery stores, hotels and hospitals... everything that goes into a complete community."
"It will be smaller than Vacaville, smaller than Vallejo, and about two-thirds the size of Fairfield," said CEO Jan Sramek.
Sramek says the new city expected to accommodate tens of thousands of people will offer 15,000 new jobs that pay at least 125 percent of the county weekly wage. According to him, some of these new jobs would be in advanced manufacturing, renewable energy, and construction. The plan also commits to investing in green spaces, clean energy, revitalizing downtowns across the county, as well as protecting Travis Air Force Base.
"When we started the project we had two goals, we knew we had to protect the base, but we didn't want to stop there," Sramek told reporters Wednesday. "We wanted to be a partner to make the base stronger."
Sramek says he's protecting Travis in several ways -- by locating the community outside of the noise and safety zones and by nearly doubling the current security buffer around the military base which is colored in light green on the map below.
In the light green on the map, Sramek says there are plans to permit solar farms in that area.
"But, we have given Travis the opportunity to veto or approve those solar farms to be built," said Sramek. "Those solar farms, if built, would supply enough clean power to power the 1.5 million homes."
Sramek says one of the largest stressors on Travis Air Force Base is the cost of housing for military personnel which is affecting retention and quality of life.
"We would be building a community that is nearby Travis that provides affordable homes of all different types' homes, including small homes, starter homes, and rental homes that young families arriving to Travis can afford," said Sramek.
California Forever also launched a series of financial assistance programs to help families and students with affordability - including $400 million of down payment assistance for soon-to-be homeowners and $70 million for college scholarships, vocational training, or to grow small businesses.
The company is also proposing a connected network of complete neighborhoods.
"We all spend too much time getting from here to there...it can lead to a lot of friction," said Laura Crescimano, California Forever's Head Urban Designer. "This would feature jobs, housing, and all of the services from barber shops to cafes to grocery stores, healthcare providers, workspaces and public parks all within a five to 10 minute walk."
The map above details how this mixed-use city would operate. The orange area is designated as a 'neighborhood mixed use zone' where there would be medium density housing with a mix of townhomes and apartments from three to six stories. The pink area is designated as the 'downtown zone'. The darkest purple area will be designated as the 'industry and technology zone.' And the light purple area would be a 'maker and manufacturing zone.'
"Overall the initiative commits to 10 acres of open space per 1,000 residents... which is more than most cities in the U.S.," said Crescimano.
Congressman John Garamendi who represents the area and recently had a sit-down meeting with Sramek told ABC7 he's still not sold on the plans.
"It's still a pie in the sky," said Garamendi. "There was a lot of happy talk. Not to worry. Everything's going to be wonderful. We're going to build this for thousands of people...a city in the middle of nowhere. And we have water. We'll take care of everything, and Travis will be protected. I'm going. Really? What are you going to do about the endangered species and how are you going to protect Travis? Where's the water?"
Garamendi added the company expressed to him they want to extend the urban sprawl from the Sunset District in San Francisco all the way through Solano County to the eastern foothills of the Sierras.
"Come on you guys," he said. "Your plan doesn't work. By the way, where is the water?"
California Forever's Director of Development Planning Anyé Spivey says the company has enough water for their new community.
"We have enough," Spivey told reporters Wednesday, adding the company is currently undergoing a water supply assessment and verification.
"Both of these are regulated under state law and require we prove that we have enough water for every home we bring online for the next 30 to 40 years," said Spivey. "This includes drought conditions."
But Rep. Garamendi says his meeting with Sramek showed there's no real water plan.
"Bottom line is there's no water. They have no real water plan. They don't have a bucket to hold water. Fact of the matter is, it's a dream along with the entire city," said Garamendi.
Garamendi says the plan still doesn't provide clarity on the lack of infrastructure and transportation.
California Forever announced Wednesday they plan on constructing a new double lane road off of Highway 12 that would help divert traffic coming from I-80.
"How are you going to get out of there? You've got two lane roads going east, going west and going north... And by the way, those are rural roads. Who's going to pay for that?" Garamendi said. "You're also going to pay for the $1 billion new bridge over the Sacramento River... bottom line is this is a fool's errand."
Before any of this would move forward, voters would have to approve the initiative in November.
The initiative needs roughly 14,000 signatures to get on the ballot and in order to pass it would need just over 50% of the vote.
Gabriel Metcalf, the Head of Planning for California Forever said after the election in November there will be much more detailed planning ahead involving the environmental impact report, and a development agreement with the county.
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