Sramek is backed by a who’s who of Silicon Valley. His investors include billionaires like Michael Moritz, the venture capitalist from Sequoia Capital; Reid Hoffman, the co-founder of LinkedIn; and Laurene Powell Jobs, founder of the Emerson Collective and the widow of the Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.
Now comes the campaign.
In a recent article, I delved into Sramek, the history of Flannery Associates and where the effort may go from here. Last week, the company, now called California Forever, began collecting signatures for a ballot initiative that would essentially ask Solano County voters for permission to build the city.
It will be an uphill battle. The initiative, if it qualifies for the ballot, would ask voters to amend a popular, longstanding county ordinance that aims to protect farms by steering development to cities.
Sramek came to California from the Czech Republic to make his fortune in start-up companies. In an interview, I found him to be well-studied in housing policy. His basic message was that if the state was serious about tackling its housing problems, it will have to build whole new communities. Adding density to existing neighborhoods through “infill” development — the focus of state legislators over the past decade — is also important, but will not be enough, he said.
“We can’t say that we are about economic opportunity, and then working-class Californians are leaving the state every year,” Sramek told me.