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Aerial perspective of planned Bay Area ideal society

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A comprehensive and ambitious proposal for a utopian community in the Bay Area has been unveiled by tech billionaire backers, showcasing plans for tens of thousands of homes surrounded by open space, trails, and powered by renewable energy sources. The aerial view of the project released by California Forever highlights the community’s proximity to the broader Bay Area, emphasizing the transformation of unused farmland into “walkable middle-class neighborhoods with homes we can afford.”

The release of the photo and accompanying ad comes as California Forever continues to gather signatures for a ballot initiative in Solano County, aiming to amend zoning codes to allow the project to be built on agricultural land. The initiative, titled the East Solano Homes, Jobs, and Clean Energy Initiative, would go before voters in November with 13,000 valid signatures.

The project’s backers include Jan Sramek, former Goldman Sachs trader and CEO of California Forever; Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn; Marc Andreessen, venture capitalist; and Patrick and John Collison, founders of Stripe. The newly released materials aim to address concerns and provide clarity on the project, which had been shrouded in secrecy as tech billionaires quietly acquired farmland.

One key point of contention has been the community’s proximity to Travis Air Force Base, with California Forever stating that there would be a security buffer zone separating the community from the base. The planned open space of 712 acres would feature sports fields and trails, bridging the gap between the new community and the neighboring city of Rio Vista.

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The renderings of the proposed community depict picturesque open spaces, tree-lined neighborhoods, and a vibrant downtown area, offering a vision of a thriving and sustainable living environment. The project promises $500 million for down-payment assistance, scholarships, parks, and the creation of 15,000 new higher-paying jobs in manufacturing and technology for Solano County residents.

Designed to accommodate 50,000 residents initially, the community has the potential to grow to a population of up to 400,000. However, the project has faced opposition from the Solano County chapter of the Sierra Club and concerns from local residents about potential traffic impacts.

If approved by voters, the initiative would still require additional government approvals, with the possibility of legal challenges from environmental groups. Campaign manager Matt Rodriguez expressed optimism about engaging with the Solano County community and sharing information about the project’s benefits.

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Black couple overcomes racism to rent to Chinese family, who show gratitude by paying rent.

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Decades ago, in the early 1900s, racism and discriminatory housing practices plagued the town of Coronado, barring many individuals from living in certain neighborhoods based on their race. In the midst of this oppressive era, an inspiring story of resilience and generosity unfolded between two families — the Thompsons, a Black couple, and the Dongs, a Chinese family.

Gus and Emma Thompson, who were among the few Black families to own property in Coronado before racial restrictions took hold, defied the norms of the time by renting their house to the Dong family. Lloyd Dong Sr., a Chinese immigrant, and his wife found solace in the Thompsons’ willingness to offer them a place to call home despite the racist barriers they faced.

Fast forward 85 years later, the sons of Lloyd Dong Sr., Ron Dong, and Lloyd Dong Jr., have decided to pay forward the kindness shown to their family by donating $5 million from the sale of the house they eventually owned to San Diego State University’s Black Resource Center. This generous gift will help expand scholarships for Black students and fund renovations at the center, creating a lasting impact on the community.

Exterior view of a single-story home

The Dongs’ family house in Coronado, originally the home of the Thompsons.

(Courtesy of Janice Dong)

This heartwarming tale of intergenerational gratitude highlights the resilience and spirit of unity that transcends racial boundaries. Brandon Gamble, the director of the Black Resource Center, expressed the profound impact of this donation on the community, emphasizing the importance of stories that challenge racism and foster a sense of camaraderie.

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Reflecting on the legacy of his father and the Thompsons, Ron Dong shared, “That was the big plus for our family, because it has made all the difference for us.” The intertwined histories of the Thompson and Dong families serve as a testament to the power of empathy and solidarity in the face of adversity.

Gus Thompson’s journey from slavery to becoming a respected community leader in Coronado, coupled with Emma Thompson’s advocacy for civil rights, exemplifies the resilience and determination of marginalized communities to thrive in the face of oppression.

Gus Thompson in 1947.

Gus Thompson in 1947.

(Norman Baynard Collection / San Diego History Center)

The legacy of allyship and support exemplified by the Thompsons extends to their willingness to assist Asian Americans facing similar discriminatory practices. This act of solidarity echoes the sentiment that in times of oppression, helping others regardless of race is not just a gesture but a necessity.

As the Dong family embraced their new home in Coronado, overcoming discrimination and forging their path to homeownership, they carried forward the spirit of resilience and unity shown to them by the Thompsons. The bond between these two families serves as a beacon of hope and inspiration in a society marred with division and prejudice.

The Hotel del Coronado, a Victorian-style beach resort outside San Diego, and tent city on the beach, 1908.

The Hotel del Coronado, a Victorian-style beach resort outside San Diego, and a tent city on the beach, 1908.

(Smith Collection / Gado / Getty Images)

The resilience and determination displayed by the Dong family in the face of discrimination, coupled with their unwavering commitment to education and community upliftment, exemplify the triumph of the human spirit over adversity. The decision to give back to the community through education underscores the transformative power of generosity and empathy in creating a more inclusive and equitable society.

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As the Dongs’ generous donation paves the way for future generations to access educational opportunities and resources, their story serves as a beacon of hope and inspiration for all who strive to overcome adversity and champion unity in the face of division.

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