Skip to main content

Independent Voice

California Forever Meets Dixon

Dec 27, 2023 02:17PM ● By Debra Dingman

Jan Sramek, founder and CEO of Forever California, fields questions at a special forum for Dixonites. Photo by Nicolas Brown

DIXON, CA (MPG) - Steve Jobs dreamed everyone should have a computer in their home. Elon Musk had a dream of everyone having electric cars. Howard Schultz had a dream that everyone would drink delicious coffee in cool little shops. Jan (pronounced John) Sramek has a dream for an urban development where a park, a store, and a school are within walking distance of every home, and he wants to build it near Rio Vista.

Dreams are what Americans are made of, and this country gives opportunities to make dreams come true. These transformative leaders have all heavily influenced their peers and younger generations to include a commitment to strengthening communities through human connection and innovation.  

Sramek Solano County

Large posterboards were created to show Sramek's vision of a new city he hopes to see built in Solano County. Photo by Debra Dingman

None of them had all the answers when they first dreamed, but Sramek, CEO of Flannery Associates, wanted Solano County residents to hear his dreams and see what their ideas were because he lives here.

Jan Sramek Introduces Himself and the Concept

“I grew up in a small town where my dad was a mechanic and my mom was a teacher,” he said about growing up in Prague, Czechia. “We were a typical blue-collar family and I got where I am because of scholarships.” Sramek stood casually in front of a big screen at Dixon’s Olde Vet’s Hall and told Dixonites about the company’s proposal to establish a new city in eastern Solano. The idea is backed by California investors hoping to “prove that California can still build bold and innovative projects that help solve some of our largest challenges.”

Dixon Forever California

News stations from around the state were tuned into the forum presented in downtown Dixon about Forever California, a proposed city to be built near Rio Vista. Photo by Nicolas Brown

It started when he and his girlfriend, now his wife, went fishing in Rio Vista back in 2016. Like a lot of people his age, he wished there were more work opportunities for people in which they did not have to commute out of the area and spend hours and hours sitting in a car. They could enjoy their lives more if they could live in a walkable community — places that he had first-hand experience with during his personal and business travels. He started looking into the challenges the County was facing.

“There are a few good-paying local jobs and long, costly commutes caused by 30 years of not building enough,” he said. His company polled 800 Solano residents where 81-percent said they “did not see a future for their children.” Those children would not be able to grow up and live here due to costs and lack of jobs.

In 2017, the land was studied, and while we see rolling hills and windmills, it had the lowest ecological values in Solano County. That was an opportunity to build from the ground up. The who’s who of investors began to buy into the project and some 50,000 acres, or about 78 square miles, were purchased under the corporate name Flannery Associates.

The team has expanded to include top people in engineering, geology, water, solar power, and other infrastructure.

“We want this to be the most sustainable city on the planet,” said Bronson Johnson, an engineer who previously worked on San Francisco projects including Lennar/Wilson Meany’s development at Treasure Island.

Outsiders Rob Dixonites of Question Time

Pamela Wu, director of news and media relations at UC Davis, wanted to make the most informative meeting for participants at last week’s Town Hall Meeting covering “Forever California,” but only a few Dixonites actually got the chance to hear details. People from other cities including Vacaville, Benicia, and Vallejo came prepared for a public protest. Dixonites seem to come for more information.

Several people seemed to be angry, and one man in particular from Vacaville gave a lengthy dissertation, verbally attacking Sramek’s heritage and telling him to go back where he came from. He did not ask a question, and the rest of the participants in the hall demanded he stop talking.

“You wanted one person, and here is one,” said a Dixonite who stood and said he was willing to listen. “We can’t afford to live here. Millennials and Generation Z — my age group — want to be here where we grew up.”

Downtown Dixon Business Association President Jill Orr said she came to get more information.

“I have seven grandchildren and I’m open minded. I’m here to learn,” she said.

Sramek and his staff were peppered with questions about jobs, projected prices on homes, low-income housing, how the company plans to make their money, and the dreaded topic of Highway 113.

“For a housing development, they put up 100 to 200 homes, they sell them, and then they leave. They don’t care. If the coffee shop they promised doesn’t appear, if the weeds start to grow, they aren’t there. They are gone. We’re going to be around. We won’t make money if it doesn’t keep growing,” Sramek explained.

Dixonite Susan Rotchy, a wheelchair user, asked about transportation and told of her son trying to save up money so he can buy a house in Dixon. She asked about some kind of advisory committee.

“The very first thing they did was to form a 21-member advisory committee to look at needs including accessibility issues,” Sramek said, and asked one of the engineers to elaborate on what they will do better in this new community.

Wanda Wallis Forever California

Wanda Wallis came from out of town as a candidate for public office to ask questions of Forever California founder and staff about impacts to Solano County. Photo By Debra Dingman

Cyrus Morales worked out at Travis Air Force Base and asked about the capacity of water.

“We’re building a new wastewater treatment plant and also a water treatment plant,” responded Sramek. “We will use the most modern equipment available for recycling water. We will be back in January with several plans and more answers.”