Last week, I was invited to provide expert testimony to the California Senate Agriculture Committee about the purchase of tens of thousands of acres of land in Solano County by a mysterious group whose identities and intentions had been previously shrouded in secrecy.
As you know, I had written a guest commentary in CalMatters, the San Jose Mercury News, and the East Bay Times, outlining the risks involved in the stealth acquisitions and calling for the shadowy group to come clean. Two weeks later, they did just that.
And thanks to the recent investigative reporting by the New York Times, we now know that the group, called Flannery Associates, is comprised of several Silicon Valley billionaires seeking to build a new city on agricultural land in Solano County and radically transform Solano County.
Given my background as Mayor, a commissioner for the ship channel and islands in Flannery’s footprint, a state water regulator for our region, and a member of the Delta Protection Commission for 20 years, I am intimately familiar with the laws and regulations protecting water rights, agricultural land, and land use –especially in Solano County. And I know the risks to our energy, water, food, and military security posed by a shadowy corporate effort to acquire 20,000 acres in these sensitive areas. That is why the Committee requested that I outline shortcomings in state laws that have led to this situation and how we can craft policies to prevent these types of land grabs, ensure transparency and protect the public interest.
Protecting California’s family farms and water supply is essential to securing California’s future. I am already laser focused on these goals and will continue fighting for the public interest when I am elected to the State Senate.