Residents speak out on California Forever plan in Solano County

After a 5-0 decision by the Rio Vista City Council last week, the law firm of Rio Vista’s city attorney, Kronick, Moskovitz, Tiedemann, and Girard, will not be allowed to represent California Forever, the parent company of Flannery Associates, and compile a report on local water supply for them.

The council voted unanimously to deny the firm’s request to work for both parties. In the event of a conflict between the two parties, the request stated that the firm would drop the billionaire-funded development firm and only represent the city.

Many Rio Vista residents attended the meeting, and many had harsh words for the corporation, which had purchased over 50,000 acres of Solano County land before making their intentions public in early September of this year. The firm has since launched a public relations campaign, informing Solano County residents of their intentions and soliciting feedback on their proposed project.

Olivia Clark represented the law firm and presented the proposed agreement at the council meeting. She stated that California Forever contacted them, most likely because they are known to be some of the best water rights lawyers in the area.

“There is no conflict between CF and the city at this time,” she went on to say. “However, due to the project’s proximity to the city, there is a chance that a conflict may arise in the future.”

Kronick presented this agreement out of caution, proposing to build an ethical wall within their firm between the three attorneys representing Rio Vista and those working for California Forever.

“I believe we hope and plan to continue representing the city,” she went on to say.

Mayor Ronald Kott confirmed to Clarke that the firm would drop California Forever as a client if they went to court against the city. When council member Walt Stanish asked what benefit accepting the agreement would have for Rio Vista, Clark responded that it would be beneficial for the city to know that California Forever had competent legal representation rather than finding some “hot shot LA firm” to “phone it in.”

However, Councilmember Sarah Donnelly believes the city should enter any potential litigation with as many advantages as possible, and she sees no reason why the city should care if California Forever does not get to work with local representation.

“I see this as a situation where we need to be dealing from a position of strength,” she told reporters.

Councilmember Rick Dolk said he wanted to make it clear to Rio Vista residents that the firm brought the issue to the city, not the other way around, and that this would give California Forever a foot in the door on water and land issues.

“This train is coming, you know,” he said, “Flannery, California Forever is coming, and we won’t be able to stop it.” So it doesn’t make sense for us to be provocative or combative on the one hand, when we need to be a partner with them on the other.”

However, Dolk stated that he sees no reason to roll over for the company, so allowing them to find their own legal counsel makes sense.

“The optics work better for them in all of the water wars that have occurred between the north and the south,” Council member Donnelly said of California Forever’s decision to partner with a more local firm.

Aiden Mayhood, a seventh generation Rio Vista resident, spoke during public comment and accused California Forever of a “scorched earth” approach with local landowners and of attempting to circumvent county growth regulations.

“We have entrusted you, the council, to forge through this future with us, the constituents, not Silicon Valley billionaires with separate monetary interests.”

He claims that California Forever has strangled the city’s ability to grow.

“We must remember that the ends do not justify the means,” he said, referring to Flannery’s untrustworthiness and unethical behavior.

Jeannie McCormack also spoke at the meeting, claiming that California Forever has shown no empathy for local residents and is only interested in making a buck.

“They’re really destroying the community in the Montezuma Hills, it’s shocking.” said the woman. “Everyone is afraid to talk to each other because they have NDAs with their land sales,”

Council member Stanish stated shortly after the vote that he wished California Forever had come directly to the council to communicate.

“I really feel bad that Flannery had to come through our attorneys to get our attention to jet our attention,” he went on to say. “I wish Flannery had come to us so we could talk about it.” The optics of this don’t look good, and they’re not off to a good start with us, in my opinion.”

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