View in Browser Our Journalism Needs Your Support Please Donate Today
California Local Logo
Graphic which spells out The Newsletter.


By Sharan Street
Published Sep 05, 2023

The River Islands development will significantly expand the population and the footprint of the Central Valley city of Lathrop. The River Islands development will significantly expand the population and the footprint of the Central Valley city of Lathrop. Image credit: California Local

Exurban Sprawl

Earlier this summer, news began to spread about a mysterious group snapping up farmland southwest of Sacramento in Solano County the way Larry Ellison accumulates beachfront property. Because of the land’s proximity to Travis Air Force Base, hackles were raised over potential threats to national security posed by the entity—Delaware-based Flannery Associates.


A Cunning Plan

Turns out the goal was more prosaic: making money. This group of Silicon Valley investors wants to transform more than 50,000 rural acres into a megacity—“a kind of urban blank slate where everything from design to construction methods and new forms of governance could be rethought.”

In other words, a planned community—something not unfamiliar in the state of California. Reporter Jonathan Vankin digs into the history of planned communities, from Lakewood’s postwar suburb to the Walt Disney Company’s “Storyliving” master-planned communities, the first of which will be built within the city limits of Rancho Mirage.


Tech Titans Revealed as Buyers of $1 Billion of Land in Solano County

About 52,000 acres land in Solano County, southwest of Sacramento and east of the Napa Valley, will become a new “megacity” if a group of tech titans get their way.
The mysterious buyers of $1 billion worth of Solano County land have been revealed as a consortium of Silicon Valley billionaires who want to build a new city from scratch.

Solano County Planned City Latest in a California Tradition

Disney’s planned community of Celebration in Florida is far from Walt Disney’s earlier vision of a utopian city.
Silicon Valley billionaires want to create a new city in Solano County. How have planned cities fared in California? From Lakewood to Irvine to Disney’s new Cotino, there have been many.

City or CSD?

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.


Cities in California: What Does it Take to Be One?

California has three cities of more than 1 million people, and 187 of over 50,000.
California is full of places and communities, but most are not cities. Here's what it takes for a community to become a city, the benefits of being one—and why the state has a 'de facto moratorium' on new cities.

Community Services Districts, Explained

There are more than 300 community service districts in California.
Community service districts can do most anything a city government can do. Here’s how they work and how to start one.


California Local logo

We Need Your Support

Forward this newsletter to your friends and family. Spread the word about us in your newsletter or blog. Link to us on social media.
Consider donating.
Let us tell your story.


California Media Alliance logo

From Our Media Allies

→ View All
The Dirt logo Local Store with a Mission

All Things Right & Relevant is more than a store, more than a job—it’s been fighting for better mental health in Yolo County for more than 30 years.

The Dirt logo DIMI Brings Live Music Back to Sophia’s

The Davis Independent Music Initiative was founded in 2019 with the goal of distributing micro-grants to local musicians.

The Dirt logo Davis Pump Track Under Construction

After years of anticipation and disappointment, a pump track is finally being built in Davis, with plans for completion in October.

  California Local Pin Marker  

Recent News

→ View All

• California’s Wildfire Smoke and Climate Change: 4 Things You Need to Know

California wildfires every year emit as much carbon as almost 2 million cars, posing a threat to efforts to battle climate change.

(09/04/2023) → CalMatters

• Empower Yolo Strengthens Its Volunteer Network

Since the pandemic, Empower Yolo has successfully resumed its peer counselor training program, rebuilding and strengthening its network of volunteers.

(09/02/2023) → Read the full Davis Enterprise report

• Heat-Related Deaths Are Up, and Not Just Because It’s Getting Hotter

Heat-related illness and deaths are on the rise along with temperatures, and an increase in drug use and homelessness is a significant part of the problem.

(09/02/2023) → CapPublicRadio

• Summer Heat Was a Killer for Young Birds

People who found the heat intolerable during the recent string of 100-plus degree days were better off than many birds at the Cache Creek Nature Preserve.

(09/01/2023) → Daily Democrat

• Happy Labor Day, California! You’re Ranked Best Place to be a Worker

No. 2 was Oregon, then New York, Washington, and Massachusetts. Worst place? North Carolina.

(09/01/2023) → Daily Democrat

• CapRadio Lays Off 12% of Staff, Cancels Music Programs Amid Financial Issues

Management laid off nine employees based in Sacramento and three employees in Chico who worked at North State Public Radio, which CapRadio operates.

(09/01/2023) → CapPublicRadio

• NJ Mvondo Joins the Race for Yolo County Supervisor

Social entrepreneur and grassroots organizer NJ Mvondo is announcing her candidacy for the Yolo County Board of Supervisors’ District 4 seat in the March 2024 primary election.

(08/31/2023) → Davis Vanguard

• Yolo County Supervisors Honor Gary Sandy During Board Meeting

The Yolo County Board of Supervisors opened its Aug. 29 meeting with a moment of silence to honor Supervisor Gary Sandy and remember his legacy.

(08/30/2023) → Daily Democrat

• Wildfire, Soil Emissions Increasing Air Pollution in Remote Forests

Satellite data from across California’s landscapes reveal an increase in nitrogen dioxide levels in remote forest areas, and wildfire and soil emissions are likely the reasons why, according to a paper from UC Davis published in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

(08/30/2023) → Daily Democrat
  California Local Pin Marker  

Upcoming Government Meetings

→ View All
Event sponsor logo City of Davis / SPECIAL MEETING: City Council
Tuesday September 5 2023   5:30 PM
Event sponsor logo City of Woodland / City Council
Tuesday September 5 2023   6:00 PM
Event sponsor logo City of Davis / City Council
Tuesday September 5 2023   6:30 PM
Event sponsor logo City of Davis / Tree Commission
Wednesday September 6 2023   5:30 PM
Event sponsor logo City of Winters / Hispanic Advisory Committee
Thursday September 7 2023   9:00 AM
Event sponsor logo City of Woodland / Library Board of Trustees
Monday September 11 2023   4:00 PM
Event sponsor logo City of Davis / Open Space and Habitat Commission
Monday September 11 2023   6:30 PM
Event sponsor logo City of West Sacramento / City Council
CANCELLED
Event sponsor logo City of Davis / Planning Commission
Wednesday September 13 2023   7:00 PM
Event sponsor logo City of Davis / Senior Citizens Commission
Thursday September 14 2023   1:00 PM
Event sponsor logo City of Davis / Bicycle Advisory and Safety and Parking Advisory Commissions
Thursday September 14 2023   5:30 PM