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Silicon Valley titans used ‘strong-arm tactics’ to get land for utopian city: local farmers

A shadowy company backed by a Silicon Valley billionaire used a variety of “extortion tactics” to extort nearly $1 billion from California farmland where it plans to build a utopian city, local real estate sources say. the owners made the claim in a recent court filing.

Flannery Associates, which is backed by leading technologists such as LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman and venture capitalist Marc Andreessen, is making a “huge sum of money” to acquire large tracts of farmland in Solano County. “premium” and “resorted to pressure tactics” on local residents who refused to sell their land. property, court documents state.

According to filings, these include terminating leases, evicting through foreclosure, and initiating costly litigation, leaving other companies with no choice but to pay huge legal fees or accept offers to sell. I was forced to make a choice.

According to the defendants, the company “misrepresented the intentions of families regarding Flannery’s offer, pitting one family against another, and creating pressure on families who were not willing to sell to avoid disappointing their friends and neighbors.” I was looking forward to it.”

Mr. Flannery has purchased nearly $1 billion in Solano County farmland.
Getty Images

The defendants cited an episode in which seven out of eight family members wanted to continue owning the farmland, and one wanted to sell it. Mr. Flannery is said to have used a “divide and conquer” strategy in which he “acquired one-eighth of the shares and sued for the remaining seven.”

The suit emerged as part of an ongoing federal lawsuit filed by Flannery against several landowners last May. Violating the Sherman Antitrust Act By colluding to inflate the price of real estate.

As the Post previously reported, local lawmakers, including Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.), have sharply criticized Mr. Flannery’s covert efforts to acquire land, many of which It surrounds the important Travis Air Force Base, which is a key economic driver. and a military base.

Pictured is Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn.
Reuters

In August, Mr. Garamendi accused Mr. Flannery of using what he called “strong-arm tactics,” including pitting families against each other to acquire land.

Officials also blamed the secrecy with which the mysterious entity carried out the land grab, causing so much alarm that Mr. Garamendi and fellow Democratic Rep. Mike Thompson called on federal authorities to investigate the matter. I even requested it.

Flannery alleges that the price-fixing “conspiracy” resulted in the company paying “at least $170 million in excess fees” compared to the land’s fair market value. The company is seeking $510 million in damages, three times the overcharge.

A spokesperson for Flannery Associates did not immediately respond to The Post’s request for comment.

Jan Slamek is leading the California Forever project.
KGO-TV

Bloomberg first reported Regarding filing.

A company spokesperson told Bloomberg that the company has “concrete evidence” that the landlords were involved in a price-fixing scheme and is open to a settlement with the remaining defendants.

The defendants said in their filing that Flannery’s claim that he “has conclusive evidence of price manipulation” is “completely exaggerated and intended to intimidate.”

Marc Andreessen is one of the Silicon Valley bigwigs behind Flannery Associates.
San Francisco Chronicle (via Getty Images)
Getty Images

Flannery and its parent company California Forever recently released artistic renderings of their Utopia City project.

The company is providing local residents with sustainable energy, including “tens of thousands of new homes, a large-scale solar energy farm, an orchard with more than 1 million new trees, and more than 10,000 acres of new parks and open space.” It proposes a plan for an electrified city. ”

The project is led by former Goldman Sachs trader Jan Sramek.

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