A mystery company backed by tech billionaires is reportedly “forcing farmers to sell” their lands to build a new city for the Silicon Valley elites

Tech billionaires including Andreessen Horowitz co-founder Marc Andreessen and LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman are reportedly backing a mystery tech company that’s buying up lands and forcing farmers to sell their land for a new city for Silicon Valley elites.

According to a report by Business Insider, a company operating under the name Flannery Associates has purchased 52,000 acres of land in northern California, to build a futuristic city for the Silicon Valley elites.

Citing new filings, the report stated that Flannery was accused of  “forcing farmers to sell up.” In a court filing this week, farmers in Solano County, California alleged that Flannery Associates resorted to coercive measures, including legal actions, to acquire land for the utopia city, including evicting farmers who refused to negotiate and “using expensive litigation to force residents to sell up,” Business Insider reported.

The accusations arose as a direct response to a lawsuit filed by Flannery in May, accusing Solano County landowners of price-fixing and inflating land prices, a claim rebuffed by the defendants. These landowners, among them families who claim a century-long history of farming on the land, retaliated, alleging Flannery of persistent harassment, terminating leases, and fostering discord among local farmers.

Concept art showing what the new city planned in Solano county might look like. Source: California Forever

An example cited in the lawsuit underscores a scenario where Flannery purchased a fraction of land owned by descendants of a family and then sued other owners, wielding the threat of prolonged and expensive litigation to enforce land sales. Per Business Insider:

“They compare Flannery’s actions to “mobster tactics,” citing Californian Congressman John Garamendi. In one instance, the lawsuit said that Flannery attempted to purchase a plot of land owned by eight groups of descendants of the same family. When all but one of the groups refused to sell, Flannery adopted a “divide and conquer” strategy by acquiring the one-eighth share and suing the other owners, using the threat of expensive and lengthy litigation to force them into selling, the suit said.”

According to a spokesperson from Flannery speaking to Bloomberg, the company claims to possess specific evidence of price manipulation and has offered settlements to the remaining defendants.

Court documents reveal that Flannery Associates has been quietly amassing thousands of acres of land in northern California since 2018, expending approximately $800 million in the process.

Jan Sramek, CEO of Flannery’s parent company California Forever, outlined on TV station KQED that their aim is to construct a nostalgic “city of yesterday.” Illustrations depict a utopian community focusing on sustainability and accessibility.

However, this initiative has been met with skepticism and resistance from developers and local communities. Mark Friedman, a real estate developer based in Sacramento, expressed doubt to The New York Times about the feasibility of the plans, while Princess Washington, mayor pro tempore of Suisun City, criticized the endeavor as an attempt to establish “a city for the elite.”

Silicon Valley investors have harbored a longstanding interest in creating futuristic “smart cities,” particularly amidst growing disillusionment with rising crime and homelessness levels in San Francisco.

Despite these developments, California Forever, the parent company of Flannery Associates, did not provide an immediate response to a request for comment sent by Insider outside regular working hours.

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