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Announcing the East Solano Homes, Jobs, and Clean Energy Initiative

By California Forever · Wed Jan 17 2024

Introducing the East Solano Homes, Jobs, and Clean Energy Initiative: a plan to build middle-class homes in safe, walkable neighborhoods and a new economic engine for Solano County

Over the past five months, we’ve run an extensive community engagement process with Solano County residents. We’ve met hundreds of residents 1-on-1 and in small group meetings. We also held large town halls, asked for your input through surveys and phone calls, and knocked on thousands of doors. We’ve listened to more than 12,000 county residents, and we heard important feedback and great ideas from the community. This feedback is reflected in the plan. The plan was crafted with the voters, and reflects the character and priorities of Solano County.

We worked with the community to design something wonderful.

Today, we’re excited to share the details of the proposal with you, and are looking forward to working closely with everyone to make this plan a reality.

In sum, the East Solano Homes, Jobs, and Clean Energy Initiative lays out the details of a plan to build a dynamic new community, with homes people can afford, in safe walkable neighborhoods. The plan also includes a commitment to bring to Solano County good-paying jobs in advanced manufacturing, renewable energy, construction, and other industries, as well as large investments in green spaces, clean energy and the revitalization of downtowns across the county. You can read the full text of the initiative we submitted here.

The proposal begins with the creation of a new community, designed to be one of the most walkable and sustainable in the United States, on lands in east Solano County with a total size of approximately 18,600 acres (about the same or smaller acreage than each of Vallejo, Fairfield, and Vacaville).

The plan features neighborhoods centered around local shopping streets and schools, with small blocks of row houses and small apartment buildings, where each family can live within a short walk for most daily needs, including schools. Our proposal also includes a requirement that at least 4,000 acres (over 20% of the proposed community) will be used for parks, trails, urban ecological habitat, community gardens, and other types of open space. The community is designed to provide a range of transportation alternatives to cars, including walking, biking, and frequent transit service.

We engaged some of the leading planners and designers in America, including both California Forever’s in-house team and our extended team including SiteLab (urban design), CMG (landscape architecture), Fehr & Peers (transportation), ENGEO (geotech and hazmat), and CBG (civil engineering), EKI (water), and many others. To learn more about the vision for the community, please read the blogpost we just published about our design principles and approach.

This proposal would create a new economic engine for Solano County. That means more good paying jobs, so people can live and work here, and more county revenue to improve schools, promote public safety, reduce homelessness, and upgrade infrastructure. Our initiative incorporates a powerful set of 10 guarantees to ensure the plan delivers on these priorities and will benefit citizens all across Solano County. The initiative also includes a specific set of commitments to protect and support Travis Air Force Base, and the families who serve and live there.

Guarantees in the East Solano Homes, Jobs, and Clean Energy Initiative:

  • The Solano Jobs Guarantee to closely link the community’s growth to creating good-paying jobs and new economic opportunity

    • The project has to support creation of at least 15,000 jobs that pay at least 125% of county average weekly wage by the time we hit 50,000 residents, or we can’t grow

  • The Solano Homes for All program to create new pathways to homeownership and help the next generation stay in Solano County

    • $400 million in funding for down payment assistance for Solano County residents to buy homes in the new community, including homes for working families, teachers, nurses, police and firefighters, and construction workers

    • Funding can also be used to help build affordable homes for low, very low, extremely low, and special needs households, including veterans, seniors, and agricultural workers

  • The Solano Scholarships program to help Solano County residents take advantage of economic opportunities created by the project

    • $70 million in funding for scholarships for college or vocational training, college plan deposits, or to start or grow small businesses

  • The Green Solano program to protect and improve open space and agriculture across Solano County

    • A $30 million in funding for parks, green spaces, protecting ecological habitats, and to support agriculture across Solano County

  • The Solano Downtowns program to improve and revitalize downtowns across Solano

    • A commitment to make commercial investments of $200 million in renovating or building homes, offices, shops, and other mixed-use buildings in downtown areas of Benicia, Dixon, Fairfield, Rio Vista. Suisun City, Vacaville and Vallejo

  • Commitments to protect and strengthen Travis Air Force Base

    • The initiative creates a new Travis Security Zone, by nearly doubling the size of the current buffer from 7,971 acres in the 2008 General Plan to a new total of nearly 15,000 acres

    • Down payment assistance and the Solano Scholarships program are available to Travis families, spouses, and both military and civilian retirees

    • Community located entirely outside of noise and safety zones as shown on Travis 2023 AICUZ update (Air Installations Compatible Use Zones)

    • Commitment to collaborate on key infrastructure projects such as transportation and energy

    • Travis AFB receives an approval right on solar farm technology to be used in the area

  • Commitment to build one of the most sustainable communities in the world

    • A major new source of clean energy for all of Solano County and the broader region by permitting solar farms with the potential to generate capacity in excess of two gigawatts, enough to power the equivalent of 1.5 million homes

    • Water conservation at the highest levels in the state

    • One of the lowest carbon emissions per capita

    • A community designed to make walking, biking, and public transit a comfortable, enjoyable, and fun way to get around

  • Other Voter Guarantees

    • Taxpayer Guarantee: a guarantee that the project has to pay its own way through taxes generated by its residents and employers, without imposing any new tax or other fiscal obligation on any Solano County resident or business located outside of the proposed community

    • Water Guarantee: a guarantee to ensure reliable and sustainable water supply through a Water Supply Assessment to be completed as part of the EIR process, and a Water Supply Verification to be completed through the subdivision map approval process

    • Transportation Guarantee: a guarantee to help improve highway safety and capacity for Highways 12 and 113 by providing right of way and significant funding

    • Schools Guarantee: a guarantee to build local schools for residents of the proposed community to prevent overcrowding existing school facilities outside of the New Community

    • Smart Growth Guarantee: A guarantee that California Forever’s financial commitments to the Solano Homes for All, Solano Scholarships, Green Solano and Solano Downtowns program will continue to scale up in proportion to the growth of the proposed community, even beyond the initial 50,000 residents

    • All ten Guarantees are legally binding on California Forever and enforceable by the county

    • For the funding programs, the initiative allocates funding to each of these, but the community decides the specific rules on allocation of funds after the measure is adopted.

What happens next

We are submitting the East Solano Homes, Jobs, and Clean Energy Initiative to the Solano Registrar of Voters today, on January 17, 2024. When we get back our "title and summary" in early February, we will begin to collect signatures to place the initiative on the ballot in November 2024.

Now that the proposal is finished, we will conduct a fiscal study on the initiative and will publish the findings on the impact this project would have on Solano County - both costs and tax revenues. We will also engage in a series of public events in February and March where people can get their questions answered.

Many Solano residents already support the initiative. If you believe in this plan and you want to help pass it, you can endorse it here on our website or get in touch with our team via email to talk more about how you can help make this plan for Solano County become a reality.

Earlier this year, 81% of Solano parents we surveyed said that their kids won’t be able to find a future in the neighborhood where they grew up. Let’s change that, and make sure that every Solano family has a future here, now and for generations to come.

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