Voters might get the chance to split one "nearly ungovernable" California into three

14 April 2018 by Steve Blum
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We’re one step away from voting on whether to break California up into three states. All that’s standing between the ballot box and Tim Draper’s second try at disrupting California’s comfortable, and largely unaccountable, political class is signature verification by the secretary of state’s office. Earlier this week, he announced that he’s collected twice the number of signatures needed to get it on the ballot.

He’s been here before, collecting 1.3 million signatures for his Six Californias initiative in 2014, only to have too many of them rejected by the secretary of state. Draper seems to have learned something about crafting policy from that failure. (N.B. failure is considered a badge of honor in the Silicon Valley world where Draper earned his fortune, so long as one learns from the experience).

This time around, it’s a much simpler proposition – he’s not trying to micromanage the split up, which is only half as complicated as it was before. It’s reasonable to think he’s also figured out his quality control problem with paid signature gatherers.

Draper’s current plan is to carve California into three pieces with roughly similar population counts, but significantly different levels of wealth. One of the new states would be made up of coastal counties, running from Los Angeles County north through Monterey and San Benito counties. A line running from the eastern edge of San Benito County and across the northern borders of Fresno, Madera and Mono counties would divide the other two states.

Income levels drop steeply as you move from Northern California, where Draper says median annual household income is $63,000, through the L.A. coast strip (tagged California) where it’s $53,000, to Southern California where the average household makes $45,000 a year.

If voters approve, then the next move will be up to the U.S. congress – all Californians can do is ask politely to be broken up. Politely or not, congress and the U.S. president are then entitled to ignore us. Given that the political class – Californian or federal – puts self preservation above all else, that’s the way to bet.