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By Eric Johnson
Published Jan 29, 2024

A group of  powerful, ambitious and confident people are hoping to ease California’s housing crisis by building an urban Utopia in the middle of nowhere. A group of powerful, ambitious and confident people are hoping to ease California’s housing crisis by building an urban Utopia in the middle of nowhere. Image credit: California Forever

The California Exodus and ‘California Forever’

Welcome to the end of January, which seems to have arrived too quicky. A reminder that, as always, you can access the most important news in your community, and learn about local nonprofits doing good work, just below. And BTW: Go Niners!

In this week’s edition of The Newsletter, we take a look at two of the biggest stories of 2023. First, the “California Exodus” that has seen the state’s population shrink in recent years by more than 800,000, which could send a political shockwave through the state and the nation. Then, the secret plan, launched by some A-list Silicon Valley billionaires, to build a city of 400,000 in an agricultural area halfway between San Francisco and Sacramento. 

These stories are bound together by one thing—the state’s ongoing housing shortage. As Jon Vankin explains here, the cost of housing has one out of three Californians considering escape from the Golden State, and is the primary reason more than a million left in the past two years. And as the New York Times reports, the stated impetus behind the “California Forever” plan for a new city is the housing shortage that is throttling their limitless ambitions. 

Next, our colleague and product guru Chris Neklason reports on our newest Tracker, a one-stop resource that will make it easy to follow the potentially explosive developments in Solano County. 

And finally, our friends at Sacramento Digs Gardening provide a healthy winter recipe to keep you warm.


Our Dangerously Dwindling Population

Californians are fleeing the state. It’s a narrative promoted recently by Ron DeSantis, and by the state’s haters for almost a decade. Turns out it is not a myth. And the cause of the exodus is no mystery.


California Exodus, Housing and the State's Political Future

As residents continue to exit California, the state’s political power at the national level is at risk.
The California housing crisis is not only weakening the state politically at the national level, it could shift the political balance in Washington, D.C., as Republican-led states add population while California’s exodus continues.

The Plan for a Utopian City in the Delta

The billionaire backers of California Forever are buying up gobs of farmland in Solano County. Where sheep now graze beneath giant windmills, a bold (naive?) entrepreneur envisions a revolutionary urbanized future. Here’s the bombshell story from the New York Times, and CALocal’s plan to keep track of the story’s development.


Silicon Valley Billionaires vs. Bay Area’s Housing Crisis?


In NYT’s “The Farmers Had What the Billionaires Wanted,” we meet a man who wants to build a city in the middle of nowhere, and folks who are slowing him down.

Building a City From the Ground Up

New neighbors might be moving to Solano County soon. A whole lot of them.
We’re getting ready to track the progress of California Forever’s plans to build a city of 400,000 in what is now Solano County farm country.

Recipe of the Week

Our friends at Sacramento Digs Gardening publish a recipe from their gardens every Sunday, which we feature here so you can start your week with some yum.


Creamy broccoli-cheese soup has a secret: No cream, no flour

This hearty bowl of broccoli-cheese soup is creamy thanks to potato, not cream or flour.
Hearty winter warmer also is gluten-free


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From Our Media Allies

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Sacramento News and Review logo McCarty Gets Win for Sacramento State and CSUs to Expand Offerings

A new law signed by Gov. Newsom could change the way students pursue doctorates. Authored by Assemblymember Kevin McCarty, it allows California State University campuses to offer doctoral degrees in professional or applied programs, provided they do not duplicate degrees …

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Recent Local News

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• Town Hall Gathers Input on New Campus Design

More than 80 county residents participated when the San Benito High School District held a community town hall as part of its planning to build a second high school.

(01/29/2024) → Benito Link

• Brewery Twenty-Five Celebrates 10 Years

To mark the anniversary, Fran and Sean Fitzharris of Brewery Twenty-Five are mixing the old with the new, including a collaboration with 650 brewers on a beer to benefit the victims of the Lahaina wildfires.

(01/28/2024) → Benito Link

• Hollister Resident Brings His Music to Hollywood

In several recent films, you may have heard soundtrack music composed by Hollister resident Jared Michael Fry. His most recent film soundtrack, Miramax’s “The Beekeeper,” is playing at Hollister’s Premiere Cinemas.

(01/27/2024) → Benito Link

• 2024 Primary Elections: San Benito County Board of Supervisors District 1

Three candidates are running for the seat: incumbent Dom Zanger and challengers Dustin Weber and Stacie A. McGrady. District 1 is the northeast part of the county.

(01/26/2024) → Benito Link

• Community Vision San Benito County: Indigenous and Native American Focus

Concerns over the history of Indigenous people, the need for diverse education courses, and representation in government were discussed at BenitoLink’s most recent Community Vision listening session.

(01/25/2024) → Benito Link

• Approaching Bay Area Deadline a ‘Test Case’ for California’s Housing Crisis

On Jan. 31, dozens of cities and counties are expected to convert thousands of suburban-style tracts into apartment-ready parcels. Will the state hold them to it?

(01/24/2024) → CalMatters

• San Juan Bautista Council Gets Update on County Water Supply

Ways to cope with the area’s ever-present need for a reliable supply of water were outlined during a presentation to the San Juan Bautista City Council by Holly Kennedy and Steve Wittry of the San Benito County Water District.

(01/24/2024) → Benito Link

• Hwy 25 Curve Realignment Cost $14.2 Million

The Highway 25 curve alignment, located 32 miles south of Hollister, is on schedule to be completed in late spring, and the combined cost of the original, failed project and its restoration has come to $14.2 million.

(01/23/2024) → Benito Link

• Jailed for Missing a Court Date, He Died After Not Being Given His HIV Medicine

An El Dorado County Jail inmate died after not receiving vital HIV medication for weeks, a new lawsuit claims.

(01/23/2024) → Los Angeles Times

• Cal State Faculty Strike Ends With Tentative Contract Agreement

A Cal State systemwide strike secured what more than half a year of negotiations and partial strikes couldn’t: a deal.

(01/22/2024) → CalMatters

• Hollister City Council Opposes Terms of Landfill Expansion

After a presentation on the landfill project, the council unanimously agreed to oppose the recommended haul route along Hwy 25 and receive further direction about the city’s hazardous waste disposal site at a future meeting.

(01/22/2024) → Benito Link

• Huge San Jose Ranch May be Preserved as Parklands and Nature Habitat

Richmond Ranch in south San Jose may be preserved as open space if multiple government entities succeed in a quest to buy its thousands of acres, public documents show.

(01/22/2024) → Monterey Herald
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Recent Statewide News

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• Will More Outdoor Drinking Give CA Economy a Buzz?

State Sen. Scott Wiener wants to allow California cities and counties to designate “entertainment zones” where bars and restaurants could serve alcoholic drinks that people can consume on public streets and sidewalks.

(01/29/2024) → CalMatters

• New Pickleball Equipment Takes a Swing at the Sport’s Noise Problem

The “pop, pop, pop” that’s become synonymous with Pickleball may soon be a racket of the past. That’s the goal promised by a new generation of equipment developed to lessen the overall acoustic burden of the sport.

(01/29/2024) → Daily Democrat

• Tribal Leaders Cite Problems with California’s Feather Alert for Native People Who Go Missing

In the first year of California’s Feather Alert system, authorities denied some requests to issue bulletins on missing people, causing concerns.

(01/28/2024) → Los Angeles Times

• Gavin Newsom Raised Millions for His Mental Health Ballot Measure. His Opponents Have $1,000

The March ballot measure would raise billions for mental health care, but some clinics fear it would strip them of revenue they need for services they provide today.

(01/28/2024) → CalMatters

• ‘Hot Droughts’ Are Becoming More Common in the Arid West, New Study Finds

Take a period of limited rainfall. Add heat. And you have what scientists call a “hot drought”—dry conditions made more intense by the evaporative power of hotter temperatures.

(01/28/2024) → CapPublicRadio

• Disneyland’s New Vision Includes Up to $2.5-billion Investment and Plan to Take Over City Streets

Disneyland’s plan to reimagine the theme park into a more “immersive” experience may require up to $2.5 billion and a plan to privatize some Anaheim streets.

(01/26/2024) → Los Angeles Times

• Collapse of California’s News Industry Is So Severe It’ll Require Taxpayer Support to Rebuild

A combination of tax credits, revenue sharing and coupons could bring stability, writes Steven Waldman, president of Rebuild Local News.

(01/25/2024) → CalMatters

• A Record Number of Californians Are Visiting Emergency Rooms for Dog Bites

Those pandemic puppies are growing up to be a public health concern.

(01/25/2024) → KFF Health News

• Senate Probes the Cost of Assisted Living and Its Burden on American Families

A U.S. Senate committee launched an examination of assisted living, holding its first hearing in two decades on the industry as leaders of both parties expressed concern about the high cost and mixed quality of care facilities.

(01/25/2024) → California Healthline

• Controversial California Bill Would Physically Stop New Cars From Speeding

The proposed bill would require new California cars to have a speed limiter.

(01/25/2024) → SF Gate

• New USGS Map Shows California Is at High Risk for Damaging Earthquakes

An updated earthquake hazard map from USGS shows a high shaking risk in California.

(01/24/2024) → SF Gate

• California Ranks High Worldwide for Rapidly Depleted Groundwater

In a sign of the ongoing threats to its precious groundwater stores, half a dozen regions in California rank among the world’s most rapidly declining aquifers.

(01/24/2024) → CalMatters

• A Guide to License Plates

The numbers and letters on your car can reveal more than you think.

(01/23/2024) → The California Aggie

• 988-Hotline Counselors Air Concerns: More Training Needed to Juggle Calls

In the year and a half since its launch, 988—the country’s easy-to-remember suicide and crisis hotline—has received about 8.1 million calls, texts, and chats. Curiosity is growing about the people taking those calls.

(01/23/2024) → California Healthline

• Key Takeaways From U.S. Senate Debate

The four leading U.S. Senate contenders in California tried to use 90 minutes of free air time to solidify their pitches to voters—and also to set themselves apart from their opponents.

(01/22/2024) → CalMatters

• Will $20 Minimum Wage Crush Fast Food in California?

Fast food lives in a consumer sweet spot: demand, convenience and relative affordability. And this pay hike—equal to minimum wage increases during the past five years—will create grand economic unknowns.

(01/22/2024) → Daily Democrat
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Government Announcements

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Image of United States seal. United States   (01/28/2024)

Truong Giang Distributor Corp Issues Allergy Alert on Undeclared Sulfites in Dried Mango

TRUONG GIANG DISTRIBUTOR CORP of Philadelphia, PA is recalling Golden Owl Dried Mango, because it may contain undeclared sulfites. People who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to sulfites run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume these products. Product was d
Image of United States seal. United States   (01/24/2024)

Utz Quality Foods Issues Allergy Alert on Undeclared Milk in Utz® Wavy Original Potato Chips in Metro New York Area

Utz Quality Foods, LLC., is issuing a voluntary recall for 88 cases of Utz 2.75 oz. Wavy Original Potato Chips due to an undeclared milk allergen. This recall was initiated after Utz learned that approximately 1200 single-serve bags contained Utz Wavy Original Potato Chips flavored with seasoning
Image of State of California seal. State of California   (01/23/2024)

Dawn Addis CA Assembly 30:
Addis Introduces the California Mushroom Act

Addis Introduces the California Mushroom Act drefcikj Tue, 01/23/2024 - 10:52 Tuesday, January 23, 2024 SACRAMENTO Assemblymember Dawn Addis (D-Morro Bay) introduced Assembly Bill 1833, the California-Grown Mushroom Act. California is the second largest mushroom producer in the world, said Addis. It's vital that mushroom consumers are provided transparency and that Californias farmers are recognized. My bill AB 1833 will …
Image of State of California seal. State of California   (01/23/2024)

Dawn Addis CA Assembly 30:
Addis Introduces Bill to Combat Disease at Wineries

Addis Introduces Bill to Combat Disease at Wineries drefcikj Tue, 01/23/2024 - 10:51 Monday, January 22, 2024 SACRAMENTO Assemblymember Dawn Addis (D-Morro Bay) introduced Assembly Bill 1861, Pierces Disease Control Program, a bill that will help defend California wine producers from Pierces disease and invasive species. The wine industry is integral to the economic success of the Central Coast and …
Image of State of California seal. State of California   (01/23/2024)

Dawn Addis CA Assembly 30:
Addis Issues Statement On Governor’s Budget

Addis Issues Statement On Governors Budget drefcikj Tue, 01/23/2024 - 10:47 Thursday, January 11, 2024 SACRAMENTO Assemblymember Dawn Addis (D-Morro Bay) released the following statement on the 2024-25 state budget proposal released by Governor Gavin Newsom: With the fiscal outlook of state and the anticipated budget deficit, I applaud Governor Newsom for taking the right steps to ensure we have …
Image of United States seal. United States   (01/20/2024)

Al Amir Fresh Foods Issues Allergy Alert on Undeclared Sesame in Hummus Dip Products and Undeclared Milk in Tzatziki Cucumber Yogurt

Al Amir Fresh Foods of Milwaukie, Oregon is recalling Al Amir brand hummus dip products due to undeclared sesame and Tzatziki Cucumber Yogurt due to undeclared milk.
Image of United States seal. United States   (01/18/2024)

FSIS Issues Public Health Alert for Raw Frozen Pork Dumpling Products Produced without Benefit of Inspection

WASHINGTON, Jan. 18, 2024 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is issuing a public health alert because Dim Sum Factory Inc., a Flushing, N.Y...
Image of United States seal. United States   (01/17/2024)

Hans Kissle Issues Allergy Alert on Undeclared Soy & Egg in "Hans Kissle Mexican Style Quinoa Salad"

Hans Kissle of Haverhill, MA, is recalling its 7-ounce packages of MEXICAN STYLE QUINOA SALAD, deli salad, because the product contains undeclared egg and soy. People who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to egg and/or soy run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they con
Image of United States seal. United States   (01/17/2024)

Whitley's Peanut Factory Issues an Allergy Alert on Undeclared Peanuts, Milk, Soy, Wheat, and Sesame for Limited Units of Deluxe Nut Mix 12oz (340g)

Whitley's Peanut Factory of Hayes, Virginia is recalling 12oz Deluxe Nut Mix with specific code dates because they may contain undeclared peanuts, milk, soy, wheat, and sesame. People who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to these ingredients run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic
Image of United States seal. United States   (01/16/2024)

Brightfarms Recalls Spinach and Salad Kits Because of Possible Health Risk as a Result of Supplier Element Farms Recall

BrightFarms has issued a voluntary recall of spinach grown by its supplier Element Farms in their Pompton Plains, New Jersey farm and distributed under the BrightFarms brand because the spinach has the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. Due to potential cross-contamination, Br