Anybody want to build a libertarian utopian community where we can solve poverty and homelessness and addiction where everyone will be thriving every day?
I've got just the spot! A private island in Grizzly Bay, accessible only by boat or helicopter (for now!) called Point Buckler Island, has just landed on the market for $75 million. And the story of its current owner and the legal troubles he's faced trying to do the simplest improvements on the land are a kind of microcosm of the misery that that cabal of billionaires is likely to face as they begin trying to develop some nearby farmland in Solano County into a new, sustainable and problem-free city.
The Chronicle caught wind of the listing, which listing agent Marianne Bordogna describes as "idyllic" and a "once-in-a-lifetime chance" to own a private island near San Francisco Bay. The land sits in the Suisun Marsh area, near Suisun Bay, in brackish waters where the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta begins. It's part of Solano County, and it's currently zoned as a marsh preserve — it's actually California's largest brackish water marsh.
The owner of the island, John Sweeney, of Pittsburg, has been in a protracted legal battle for at least six years with state, local, and federal agencies over improvements he tried to make in order to run a small kite-surfing operation. As Bay Area News Group reported in 2017, Sweeney found himself filing suit against two state environmental agencies after they fined him $3.6 million for work he did repairing several broken levees on the land — work that he characterized as "making it a better environment for ducks," and that he said was allowed under the 1977 Suisun Marsh and Conservation Act, which gave exemptions for duck-hunting clubs.
A Solano County Superior Court Judge would later void those fines.
Sweeney installed two helipads on the parcel, in order to allow Silicon Valley types to fly in for kite-surfing adventures. And he suggests to the Chronicle that a wealthy buyer would likely be able to "craft a deal" with regulators to make further improvements.
The property is being marketed as "a great escape for sports gatherings or corporate events."
Much like the island has legal protections attached in order to preserve sensitive marshland on and around it, the land that's been bought up in the nearby county by that group of billionaires known as Flannery Associates, led by visionary Jan Sramek, also likely faces some anti-development protections. Specifically, their first hurdle will be getting voters to approve the reversal of a longstanding zoning regulation meant to preserve agricultural land, and even then it's not clear if state regulators won't have more reasons to fight the project.
But that's no matter! They've got lots of money. And a vision. So this should be a breeze. And maybe they'd be interested in expanding to the waterfront! Sweeney's property listing also notes the proximity to Flannery's California Forever project.