The tech billionaire class will be popping more Champagne than usual this week, as they appear to have enough signatures to get their utopia thingy “California Forever” on the November ballot in Solano County.

It was last July when we learned that some mystery group of investors was buying 52,000 acres of land in Solano County, and not long after that, it was revealed that the buyers were a bunch of tech industry figures like LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, Andreessen Horowitz co-head honcho Marc Andreessen, venture capitalist and SF Standard founder Michael Moritz, and the late Steve Jobs's partner Laurene Powell Jobs. So there’s obviously endless money behind this idea of some sort of tech industry utopia-type city concept now called “California Forever,” but lawmakers are skeptical of the whole thing, and there are already legal challenges in the works.

On top of that, their gigantic proposed development would require an exemption to Solano County's Orderly Growth ordinance, an exemption which would have to be approved by the county’s voters. Which means they needed 13,000 signatures to qualify for the November 5 ballot, but KGO reports that the California Forever groups claims they have enough signatures to make that ballot.  

The 20,000 signatures submitted have not been verified, but the Solano County registrar’s office expects to verify these within the next five days. And the megabucks characters behind the idea say this shows some groundswell of support among Solano County residents.

"They're all saying yes, we want to have a say in the future of this place we love,” California Forever CEO Jan Sramek said in a statement to KGO. “Yes, we want to end these long commutes and have good paying jobs, homes here close by. Yes, we want to have homes for us and our children, and we want to have them now."

That said, 20,000 signatures is frankly not a whole hell of a lot. For context, consider that the 2022 SF recall of District Attorney Chesa Boudin initiative got more than 83,000 signatures to qualify for that election ballot. But still, 20,000 signatures exceeds the legal threshold of just 13,000 signatures required for Solano County, which has about half as many residents as San Francisco.

And consider that the California Forever ballot measure is polling quite terribly in Solano County, with about 70% of residents against the idea in a poll taken last month. Even the Solano County registrar put out an alert in March about misleading tactics by the initiative’s paid signature gatherers.    

“These signature firms, when they have the resources to hire staff, don’t fail in collecting signatures,” pollster Paul Mitchell told KQED. “The signature-gathering process is very mechanical. So if you have the resources to pay for all those mechanics, you’ll be fine.”

It remains to be seen whether the billionaires behind California Forever can sway public opinion in a community with which they have little in common. But it seems a pretty fair certainty that they will advertise the bejesus out of this thing in the six months to come.

As the New York Times' Daily podcast discussed last month, the group seems to want fight hard at the outset to get this project moving, with the hope that they won't have to fight so hard later on to develop the "city of yesterday" that they imagine. And it seems likely the fight won't just end if this year's ballot measure fails.

Related: 'California Forever' City Plan In Solano County Isn't Polling Well [SFist]

Image via California Forever