Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Dividing California into three, but not (necessarily) to serve rural interests

Here's the lede from the Los Angeles Times story today:
California’s 168-year run as a single entity, hugging the continent’s edge for hundreds of miles and sprawling east across mountains and desert, could come to an end next year — as a controversial plan to split the Golden State into three new jurisdictions qualified Tuesday for the Nov. 6 ballot.
Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tim Draper is behind the initiative, and journalist John Myers' story quotes him:
Three states will get us better infrastructure, better education and lower taxes. States will be more accountable to us and can cooperate and compete for citizens.
Myers describes how the current proposal would divvy up the state's 58 counties, with a nod to the state's rural-urban divide:  
Northern California would consist of 40 counties stretching from Oregon south to Santa Cruz County, then east to Merced and Mariposa counties. Southern California would begin with Madera County in the Central Valley and then wind its way along the existing state’s eastern and southern spine, comprising 12 counties and ultimately curving up the Pacific coast to grab San Diego and Orange counties.
Under the longshot proposal, Los Angeles County would anchor the six counties that retained the name California, a state that would extend northward along the coast to Monterey County. Draper’s campaign website argues the three states would have reasonably similar household incomes and enough industries to produce their own viable economies.  (emphasis added)
It was that issue — economic sustainability — that helped fell two of Draper’s previous efforts in 2012 and 2014 to create six California states. Critics said some of the more rural regions would suffer from extraordinary rates of poverty as individual states, while coastal communities would flourish in new, smaller states where the lion’s share of California tax revenue is generated.
Myers also provides historical context, noting that more than 200 attempts have been made to "either reconfigure [California's] boundaries, split it into pieces or even have the state secede and become an independent country" since California was admitted to the Union in 1850. I have written about some proposals for secession, most prominently the State of Jefferson, here, here, herehere, and here.  And here is a post about the State of Jefferson that has a decidedly international angle.  Here is a post about Draper's earlier effort to divide California into six states.

While the State of Jefferson movement has been aimed at garnering more political power for rural interests in the far northern part of California,  the current Draper proposal does not seem to share that goal.  While the vast majority of "rural" areas and metropolitan counties would wind up in northern California, those counties would be dominated economically--and probably culturally and otherwise--by the Greater Bay Area.  Ditto the Central Valley counties by San Diego and Orange counties, and ditto (again) the scenic (and somewhat agricultural) central coast by Los Angeles and environs.  

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