Two local Congressmen are continuing to express their concern and extreme displeasure over the proposed California Forever "new city" plan in Solano County, which continues to take shape as it heads for its first hurdle at the ballot box.

It's now been six months since we first learned of a plan being backed by a cabal of Silicon Valley billionaires to construct a new city out of whole cloth on farmland in eastern Solano County. The group had spent several years quietly amassing 52,000 acres worth of adjacent parcels, and one former Goldman Sachs trader named Jan Sramek, 37, is the brains behind all this — telling the press and county residents that they want to build "a city of yesterday" where middle-class families can afford charming row houses, where people gather in European-style plazas, and where there is no crime and no homelessness and no one sells drugs and no stinking San Francisco progressives are there to ruin it. (I added the latter part, but it's implied.)

Well, we're now getting down to brass tacks with the project, which is now sort of absurdly called California Forever — for lack of a more place-like name. They now need to begin gathering signatures from county residents to put an exception to county law on the November ballot for the project to move forward.

The first hurdle is getting 13,500 voters (or more, since signatures will need verification) to agree that they should have said exception to Solano County's Orderly Growth ordinance, which requires that all new urban-type development like this occur only within the county’s existing seven cities: Vallejo, Fairfield, Rio Vista, Vacaville, Suisun City, Dixon and Benicia. The ordinance was passed decades ago in order to preserve the very agricultural land that this group wants to develop, and to avoid future strains on transportation and water infrastructure, which California Forever claims it will easily solve.

As KPIX reports, the group submitted an 88-page filing on Thursday with the county registrar of voters, revising its previously submitted ballot measure to address concerns about homebuyer downpayment assistance, and about potential radar or other interference to next-door Travis Air Force Base to the west.

Regarding the base, the new proposal suggests that it will only develop "Travis compatible infrastructure," such as solar farms, energy storage, water treatment, or agricultural and habitat uses, in a 4,200-acre zone that abuts the base to the west of the planned community.

The group says an eventual Environmental Impact Report will address all of the community's concerns — but Congressman John Garamendi [D-Fairfield], who has been vocal in his opposition to the project since he first learned of it, has many doubts, and says the revised plan only proves that the group has not developed anything specific enough for voters to approve.

"All of these issues remain in place, and my opposition to this is even stronger today," Garamendi tells KPIX, regarding the proposal's failure to address a host of concerns about water, transportation, the air force base, and more.

Rep. Mike Thompson [D-St. Helena], has also voiced his objections.

Speaking to the Chronicle, Garamendi says that the ballot measure continues to be structured in a way that "would remove all the protections on that land and the amount of input the county would have after that was done is minimal."

He also says that governance of this future city of up to 400,000 residents is a huge unknown that more people should be questioning.

"[There's an] inability of the county government to control what goes on in this 400,000-person city," Garimendi tells the Chronicle. "No city council, no local government [is planned] to be set up at all."

"This isn’t a proposal for a city, this is a proposal for a development and it would be the developers … calling the shot in their development," Garimendi adds.

Brian Brokaw, an apparently newly hired spokesperson for California Forever, tells the Chronicle, "The initiative spells out very clearly what the proposal is — and what it is not — and includes ten voter guarantees to ensure accountability. The initiative further requires that prior to starting construction, a full Environmental Impact Report is completed, and a Development Agreement is negotiated and signed with Solano County. The Environmental Impact Report will address water, transportation, and all other impacts, and the Development Agreement will give Solano County the power to enforce all voter guarantees."

The governance question is a big one — especially given how hostile Silicon Valley types have tended to be about local governments. And what would these billionaires be so excited out in creating such a city unless they, or their forebears, could control it somehow and make sure it continues to align with their vision?

And why should Solano County voters approve something that Solano County will have little or no oversight of?

The political and logistical obstacles to building a new city in the Bay Area have seemed legion from the start. Still, Sramek has said he is "not at all perturbed" by the barrage of negative press that the project has gotten. And of course he has.

Previously: 'California Forever' Billionaire Group Begins Ballot Initiative Effort to Create New City In Solano County

Rendering via California Forever