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A bird's eye view of proposed Bay Area utopian community

Tech billionaire backers of a sweeping proposal to build an idealistic community from the ground up in the Bay Area released an aerial view of the project's plans for tens of thousands of homes surrounded by open space, trails and using renewable energy sources.

In the photo and an accompanying ad released Wednesday, California Forever showcased the community's proximity to the broader Bay Area, while touting that the Solano County project would convert unused farmland into "walkable middle class neighborhoods with homes we can afford."

The new material comes as California Forever is gathering signatures for a ballot initiative in Solano County that would amend zoning codes to allow the project to be built on agricultural land. With 13,000 valid signatures, the ballot measure titled the East Solano Homes, Jobs, and Clean Energy Initiative would go before voters in November.

Backers of the project include Jan Sramek, a former Goldman Sachs trader who is chief executive of California Forever; LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman; venture capitalist Marc Andreessen; and Patrick and John Collison, who founded the payment-processing company Stripe.

The new ad and renderings of the proposed utopia attempt to answer some of the questions locals have had about the project, which for years was shrouded in secrecy as tech billionaires quietly bought up farmland.

The proximity of the project to Travis Air Force Base has been one point of contention. California Forever said the new community would be 4.5 miles from the base with a security buffer zone where there would be nothing other than agriculture and solar farms. The community would create an open space of 712 acres featuring sports fields and trails between itself and neighboring city Rio Vista, a town of about 10,000 people on the Sacramento River.

Renderings of the community show picturesque open spaces where families could host birthday parties and go on bike rides, along with tree-lined neighborhoods and a bustling downtown.

In the newly released ad, backers say the project would use unused land "rated among the worst for agriculture in all of Solano County, land where for years and years, nothing much has been able to grow." The project promises to provide $500 million for down-payment assistance, scholarships and parks for Solano County residents and 15,000 new higher-paying jobs in manufacturing and technology.

The community would be designed to have 50,000 residents at first, then grow to as many as 400,000.

The campaign faces opposition from the Solano County chapter of the Sierra Club, which said housing should not be built on agricultural land. Residents in the area have also expressed concerns about the effect on traffic.

If the ballot measure is approved by voters, other government approvals would then be required. Environmental groups have signaled lawsuits are possible, which could tie up the matter in court.

“A knowledgeable voter is the best kind of voter, and we find that the more Solano County residents learn about our project, the more they like it,” said Matt Rodriguez, campaign manager for the East Solano Homes, Jobs, and Clean Energy Initiative. “We’re excited to be engaging with members of the Solano County community and this is another opportunity for us to continue sharing information about how we plan to bring middle class homes and good paying jobs to Solano County.”

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.