California could become six states. According to Tim Draper, the state can no longer function as a single entity and should be divided into six smaller ones. The Silicon Valley venture capitalist believes the state has become too large to handle the myriad of issues currently facing it.
On Thursday, Secretary of State Debra Bowen approved the start of a petition to collect the signatures of 807,615 registered California voters. If the signatures can be certified by a July 18 deadline, a ballot could be before voters as early as November.
The six new states would have with their own capitals with a statehouse and senate. The new states would each elect two senators to the United States Senate. The 53 current delegates representing California in the House of Representatives would be divided among the new states based on their populations.
Draper believes the state has grown too large to handle the needs of its diverse population. There have been declines in areas such as public education and transportation. It does too little, and leaves unresolved paramount problems such as water shortages and outdated infrastructure. In Draper’s opinion, six smaller states would do a better job than one large, unresponsive one. Draper finds smaller governments more responsible to their constituents and communities. A divided version of California could both compete and cooperate with each other. Problems facing a smaller state would be more efficiently addressed and settled.
Under Draper’s proposal, California would become six states. Jefferson in the north would include cities such as Redding and Eureka. North California would have Sacramento as its principal city. Silicon Valley, home to Apple and Google, would include San Francisco and San Jose along with their nearby counties. West California would have Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and Ventura. Central California would contain California’s rich farming heartland with cities such as Bakersfield, Fresno and Stockton. South California would have the remaining portion of the state with San Diego as its leading city.
Attempts to turn California into two, three, or even four states have been debated since 1850. Even if the petition attains the required number of registered voter, gets on the ballot, gets approved, and withstands legal challenges, the proposal then goes to Washington. Congress, under Article 5, Section 3, Clause 1 of the U.S. Constitution, must approve the creation or division of any state. Debating the issue of adding ten new senators and dividing 53 California congressional members will take time.
Having the eighth largest economy in the world, how would California divide its resources? Who would control the vital water, aqueducts and pumping stations? Could Central California deny water to South California?
Critics believe the measure has little chance of success. The first hurdle is collecting the necessary 807,615 signatures in less than 150 days. All of them must be from registered California citizens eligible to vote. Attaining those signatures involves hundreds, if not thousands of paid workers and volunteers going to locations where people congregate such as the DMV, a shopping center, or a beach. The signatures must be verified by the California secretary of state before the petition can become a ballot question.
Once on the ballot, the public must not only be made aware of its significance, but be willing to vote for the initiative. If successful in the voting booth, the ballot must withstand legal state and federal challenges. Then, and only then, the debate in Washington will begin. It could be years before California becomes six states.
By Brian T. Yates