Utopian city ‘California forever’ still faces national security investigation: politicians

A planned utopian city in California continues to face a high-stakes investigation by a US national security panel, and state politicians are still not satisfied that the secret project is not linked to China.

Since 2017, a little-known company called Flannery Associates has quietly purchased nearly $1 billion worth of land next to Travis Air Force Base, raising alarms on Capitol Hill that a foreign entity could be backing the project with nefarious ends.

Similar concerns arose last year after a Chinese company purchased 300 acres of land near an Air Force drone base in North Dakota.

In August, Flannery attempted to calm nerves by revealing that his backers included American tech moguls such as LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman and venture capitalist Marc Andreessen.

The group has said the land’s proximity to Travis was unintentional and outlined plans to develop a scenic city with sustainable energy, pedestrian-friendly design and well-paying jobs.

Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.) is among those who have raised concerns about Flannery’s origins.
CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

However, the US Treasury Department’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) – an interagency panel responsible for examining business transactions for potential national security risks – is still reviewing actively pursuing the project starting this month, a pair of California lawmakers told The Mail.

Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.), who previously criticized Flannery for using “heavy-handed mafia techniques” to acquire land from local farmers, told The Post that the company’s explanation to date is “only half of history” – and stated The project bears the characteristics of a “patient” foreign investment plan.

“Saying it’s ‘American money’ is not a complete explanation of who the investor is,” Garamendi said. “I have been around long enough to understand the way foreign money (legitimate and illegitimate) is invested in the United States. Generally in an LLC, in a real estate transaction.”

Flannery Associates was originally registered as an LLC in Delaware, which does not require ownership disclosure. Project organizers describe California Forever as Flannery’s parent company.

Flannery has irritated Solano County residents with vaguely defined plans to build the city on parcels of dry, unincorporated farmland that are littered with wind turbines and abandoned gas wells and are known to lack sufficient infrastructure to support a large population.

The first renderings of the “California Forever” project emerged earlier this fall.
california forever

Catherine Moy, mayor of Fairfield, California, said the feds are “still investigating” the situation and “are not 100% sure that China is not behind the funding for this.”

“CFIUS, they are still continuing their investigation. You can trust but verify, especially with things like this,” Moy said. “A couple of investors are already very connected to China on the business side.”

The CFIUS investigation was first reported by CNN in August – weeks after it emerged that Garamendi and fellow U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) had asked the panel and the FBI to investigate the matter.

The duo noted that Travis is a critical military transportation hub known as the “Gateway to the Pacific” that serves as a key conduit for shipments to Ukraine, among other key functions.

Flannery Associates has purchased nearly $1 billion worth of land located in Solano County.
AFP via Getty Images

“My concerns with acquiring land in Solano County have always been national security and food security,” Thompson said in a statement. “Their rapid acquisition of land around Travis Air Force Base caused concern about who was making the purchases and their ultimate goal.”

A Travis Air Force Base spokesperson confirmed that “senior officials are actively supporting all federal and Solano County agencies involved regarding the land purchase.” The spokesperson referred further questions to the Treasury Department.

The Treasury Department did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

When contacted for comment, a spokesperson for Flannery Associates said the project has “no other foreign investors” beyond those it has disclosed.

The company has said its investors are passive and have no role in daily operations.

“While most area elected officials have taken an open-minded approach to the opportunity our project presents for local jobs, investment, middle-class housing and clean energy, unfortunately and irresponsibly a couple of local politicians are spreading the word rumors and misinformation to imply that California Forever is not a US company,” the spokesperson said.

Flannery said he has “complied with all government investigations” and has provided documents that “indisputably prove that more than 97% of our invested capital comes from US investors, and that the remaining less than 3% comes from UK and US investors.” Ireland”.

Fairfield, California Mayor Catherine Moy is an outspoken critic of the city’s project.

So far, Flannery’s publicly disclosed list of investors includes Hoffman, Andreesen, his investment firm Andreesen Horowitz, former Sequoia Capital partner Michael Moritz, Stripe co-founders Patrick and John Collison, Chris Dixon, John Dooer, Nat Friedman , Daniel Gross and Laurene Powell Jobs, prominent philanthropist and widow of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.

Moritz spent nearly four decades at Sequoia Capital and helped spearhead the venture firm’s expansion to China before leaving last June. Sequoia Capital itself has not been linked to Flannery Associates or the “California Forever” project, although the House Select Committee on China recently revealed that it was investigating the company’s investments and business interests in China.

Moritz did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

A spokesperson for Sequoia Capital confirmed that the company had received the select committee’s letter about the investigation, was “reviewing it and will respond.”

Flannery Associates CEO Jan Srakek has denied that his company wants to build a “utopian” city.

Flannery CEO Jan Sramek has been quick to downplay the project’s ties to the tech industry, describing it as a “city of yesterday.”

His website specifically rejects the notion that he is building a “technological utopia” and said Flannery “is not proposing a ‘utopian’ fantasy in the sky.”

Critics, including Garamendi and Moy, argue that Sramek and his team are simply trying to reframe the project because of local backlash.

“History has changed,” Moy said. “Any credibility he was trying to gain after being booked for five years is being lost because he is now changing history. “That’s what happens with people you can’t trust.”

Source link

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button