A new city could soon be springing up in California, financed by leading Silicon Valley investors. The idea is to create a self-sufficient, pedestrian-friendly city where people can both live and work.
California Forever is already shaping up to be a huge construction project. It all began a few years ago, when mysterious investors bought a parcel of land measuring some 200 square kilometers (50,000 acres) in Solano County, California, between San Francisco and Sacramento, for $800 million. Their identities were only recently made public. The project is headed by former Goldman Sachs trader Jan Sramek, founder of California Forever. It is financially backed by well-known Silicon Valley investors such as Reid Hoffman (LinkedIn, OpenAI), Marc Andreessen (Netscape, Andreessen Horowitz), Patrick and John Collison (Stripe), Chris Dixon (eBay, Hunch) and even Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of the late Apple founder and CEO, Steve Jobs.
Initial information about California Forever can be found on a dedicated website. The aim is to build a new city from scratch, designed to welcome a new community, create well-paid jobs and offer an ideal living environment.
Ecological considerations are at the heart of the project, with the announced presence of solar farms and large green spaces. On paper, California Forever aims to be self-sufficient not only in energy, but also in food, thanks to nearby agricultural operations.
In order to help finetune this project, many of the county's residents were surveyed. The results show that they would like to be able (for themselves, but also and above all for their children) to buy homes at reasonable prices in a safe community, where all services would be within walking distance. They would like to be able to benefit from local employment, to limit their travel, but also to be able to help finance schools and other public services useful to all.
For the time being, nothing has actually been built, and the website currently features a series of attractive drawings illustrating what this planned city of the future might look like. Forget skyscrapers and cars, the first renderings suggest a more traditional, low-rise architectural style, with a focus on soft mobility in the streets.
It's not the first example of a planned community in the US associated with major players. While Disney's Celebration in Florida may be most famous, Disney also has a division called Storyliving by Disney creating master-planned communities with Cotino near Palm Springs, California the first example to take shape.