Whatever “new forms of governance” might be devised, Flannery Associates’ megacity will be fueled by the same economics that power growth east of the Bay Area: Silicon Valley migrants looking to stretch their housing dollars.
To see on a small scale what it’s like to build a city from scratch, look no further than Lathrop. The San Joaquin County municipality came into being in 1989, with plans that included a large resort/theme park. In 2001, when the city’s population was less than 11,000, plans changed to a development called River Islands in Lathrop: 11,000 homes, a town center, business parks, recreational areas. Naturally, the site was a flood plain; equally unsurprising, a coalition of conservation and fishing groups sued the Central Valley Flood Protection Board and River Islands. (The suit was settled in 2008.) And others have been critical about the site’s remote location, far from job centers and shopping, and its impact on local traffic.
Unlike the land purchased by Flannery Associates, River Islands is already part of a city and Lathrop is poised to embrace new arrivals. (Some 90% of the houses sold in River Islands were bought by former Bay Area residents.)
Will the Flannery team create a new incorporated city? The process is not simple. California has 482 incorporated cities and towns and many more “census designated places,” where residents are served by special districts. To find out more about the differences between these two types of governance, read on.