Yet Another Wrong Way California Breakup

We seem to get one of these every decade or sometimes half decade. A ballot initiative to break up California into 2, 3, 4, 6 or more new States.

This guy, Draper, had a prior proposal to divide California up into 6 parts. This latest one is only 3.

Billionaire Tim Draper Petitions for California to Be Broken Into Three Smaller States
The three states would be configured as follows: Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Monterey and San Benito counties would make up the central Californian state; Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Imperial, Kern, Kings, Fresno, Tulare, Inyo, Madera, and Mono counties would form the southern one; finally, the 40 remaining counties would be lumped into a single northern California state.

This “plan” suffers the same problem they all seem to have: It divides north from south while NOT dividing Ultra-Left-Wing-Progressive megacities from rural conservative libertarian areas.

So this one has very conservative farming counties of Butte and Sutter dominated by San Francisco. To make a really valid Norther California that would be of interest to the folks there, Marin and San Francisco counties need to be lumped into something other than all the farming counties north and inland.

Similarly, rural San Benito county (pop. 60k) is lumped in with Los Angeles (pop. 10 Million). Think their vote will matter compared to the L.A. monster?

For folks not familiar with our counties, here’s a list and map:

The basic problems are San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles Basin. The rural counties outside those areas need to be one State, then those two bundles of urban degeneracy need to be their own States. The gigantic county of San Bernardino is itself dominated by the tiny corner with most of the people who are essentially part of Los Angeles. The LA State needs a border that takes that corner, and leaves the 80%+ of the county that’s rural in the rural State.

So what would I do? Marin, San Francisco down to Santa Clara and inland to about Solono County (basically the Bay Area Metropolitan statistical area) ought to be one State. Down south, take the Los Angeles basin Metropolitan Statistical Area that ranges from a bit north of San Diego inland to that small corner of San Bernardino, and north to the area around Ventura ought to make up the second Urban State. Then all the rural parts outside of those areas are the third one. That rural State still would have ports at Stockton, Sacramento, and San Diego, so easy to do shipping as desired. It would have ‘enough’ urban areas to be viable (Sacramento and San Diego are nice sizes), but would mostly be dominated by the rural areas.

That, I’d vote for.

The plan that has San Francisco dominating Alpine and Farming counties? Not interested.

There was another one of these a decade or two back that made the stupid decision to name the 2 States that it was going to make with Spanish names. Alta California instead of Northern California. I voted against it just on that alone (though it, too, did not pare out San Francisco from the conservative rural areas).

On this map:

California Population Map


Basically do a carve out of the red blob in the San Francisco Bay area, and the bigger red blob down in the L.A. basin. That does leave the populations of the further south San Diego area and the inland Sacramento Area as potentially dominating the rump State, but then all those central valley farm cities will tend to balance them out. (Though I could be talked into including Sacramento in the SF State and San Diego in the LA State as long as the rural areas near them were left in the Rump State. Even though it would require the sacrifice of the more rural Yolo County as a connector between S.F. Bay Area and Sacramento. (Though frankly once Sacramento was not full of politicians from Southern California and San Francisco working the Capital it would likely revert to the more rural oriented conservative town it was when I was a kid).

It is also important to notice that places like those two counties, near the bottom, that reach from the L.A. basin to the Arizona border, need to have the population dense parts in the L.A. Basin hived off to be part of L.A. and the rural portions set free to be in the rural State.

It is those two urban metroplexes that are the problem. The rest of us have just not been able to eject them…

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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17 Responses to Yet Another Wrong Way California Breakup

  1. oldbrew says:

    That straight west-east line about 2/3rds down the map looks like a convenient SF/LA State separator to an outsider.

  2. H.R. says:

    E.M. wrote: “This guy, Draper, had a prior proposal to divide California up into 6 parts. This latest one is only 3.”

    Next he’ll propose two new states and when that doesn’t fly, he’ll propose one new state.
    Oh… wait…

    The Electoral College was chosen as the means to prevent one or two high population states from dominating the Presidential election. I’m not halfway through my 1st cuppa this morning so I can’t think of one right off, but there should be an analogue that could be instituted on a state level.

  3. p.g.sharrow says:

    We once had a control on mob rule called a Senate, populated thru County selection, but the US Supreme Court under Earl Warren, a Californian Democrat, Ruled that it must be population controlled, “One Man One Vote”
    So, now we have two assemblies, Gerrymandered for popular support, Mob Ruled from city centers…pg

  4. E.M.Smith says:


    That just gives you 2 States each still dominated by a major left wing population center and the rural areas still effectively disenfranchised. It doubles the number of Hard Left Senators from California and makes things worse, not better.

    Frankly, if carving out the two major population centers were done, one would really want to divide the rural Rump State in half so as to let it have a total of 4 Senators and retain some balance. In that case, your proposed line would make sense, but only for dividing the rural sector into 2.


    As P.G. pointed out, we had that in the past.


    I remember a vote, about 1960?, that changed our State Senate from “representatives of the county” to “general election by the people”. I thought it was done by ballot. You are saying it was a court case? Did one lead to the other?

  5. philjourdan says:

    @EM – Reynolds vs Sims – 1964 – State Senates have to be elected by proportional vote, not local jurisdiction lines.

  6. John F. Hultquist says:

    Could the LA part and the SF part be cleaved out of the Union?
    That would leave the new smaller state of CA with 2 senators and a lessor number of representatives in the U. S. national government. The rest of us do not want 4 new senators from the left coast. New stars on the flag and all that goes with it would be unnecessary.
    The LA Nation and the SF Nation could do their own thing that, I think, is to take on the image and likeness of Nicol├ís Maduro’s Venezuela.

  7. John F. Hultquist says:

    This is sort of related:
    I was sent a link to this old article.

    Good-Bye California
    How The ‘Progressives’ Ruined The State
    By Victor Davis Hansen
    Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution
    at Stanford University

  8. Chris in Calgary says:

    @John F. Hultquist:

    “I note only that there are vast numbers of people who apparently are not working, are on public food assistance, and enjoy the technological veneer of the middle class.”

    Wow. Someone should ask those people what happens when this gets cut off (as at some point it surely will)?

    “The result is a sort of social, cultural, economic, and political time-bomb, whose ticks are getting louder”

    Sobering thought.

  9. Larry Ledwick says:

    The folks on public assistance have too short of a time horizon to worry about such things. If it is not going to happen in the next week they won’t worry about it. Besides they will tell themselves that the government would not dare cut the benefits, or they do not believe the warnings thinking they are political spin.

  10. E.M.Smith says:

    FWIW, I could likely become one of those folks just collecting money for nothing.

    For some (many?) kinds of “assistance” they don’t count your home nor retirement accounts value (just payments). In theory (IF my assets could be arranged so they are outside the counted set) I could “sell myself” as retired only income Social Security… Don’t know what all the rules are, though, and not interested in “gaming” the system that much.

    At any rate, lots of folks are note working just spending. My 3 older siblings are all collecting Government Retirement checks… ( 2 post office, one State).

    At one time they made it so you didn’t have to mortgage your home or sell it to get assistance, which means you can have a net worth that’s quite high so long as it is your paid off home, but still qualify for handouts. No idea if that ever got changed / removed.

    Spouse will be getting a Calif. Teachers retirement check next year. Yeah, it’s an interesting question what percentage of the State can do that… and for how long… Hopefully another decade or maybe 2. ;-)

  11. bob sykes says:

    Any carving up of California (or Texas) requires approval of the US Congress and President. That will not be granted if there is any major change in control of the House or Senate. The same reason that Puerto Rica cannot become a State.

  12. oldbrew says:

    EMS – it seems it’s in the interest of the Democrats to split California in two, so why didn’t they when they last had the chance?

  13. Hifast says:

    Rural Californians really lost clout when the state constitution was changed to have the State Senate seats filled by population not by geography. The northern third of the state has only six representatives in the Assembly (80) and Senate (40) out of 120. See Reynolds v Sims (1964).

  14. Larry Ledwick says:

    Try this map for a possible layout for splitting the state.

    It would be better to find one by precinct but makes a good first cut about how the states politics are segregated. I imagine some of those blue counties surrounded by red were also mostly red by precinct but were dominated by a single population center to shift them blue.

    Here is a little better resolution

  15. Larry Ledwick says:

    Source page for the above map.
    Also has some other interesting maps.

  16. Juan Slayton says:

    There are a lot of people in Northern California and Southern Oregon who would like to be free of Sacramento and Salem, respectively. I haven’t been following this conversation, but has anyone brought up the State of Jefferson? NPR comes disguised in sheep’s clothing as Jefferson Public Radio, but it does promote a sense of regional identity.

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