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Plan to divide California into 6 states advances

By Michael R. Blood / AP Political Writer

LAST UPDATED: 06:05 p.m. HST, Feb 20, 2014

LOS ANGELES » California has reached the breaking point. Or so says Tim Draper, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist who is pushing a proposal to crack the nation's most populous state into pieces.

Six of them, in this case.

California has grown so big, so inefficient, it's essentially ungovernable, according to a ballot initiative that could reach voters as early as November.

It has to go.

"Vast parts of our state are poorly served by a representative government," according to Draper's plan, which cleared a key government hurdle this week to qualify for the ballot. California residents "would be better served by six smaller state governments."

In an interview Thursday, Draper said he has seen a state once regarded as a model slide into decline — many public schools are troubled, transportation, water and other infrastructure systems are overmatched and outdated, spending on prisons has soared.

A group of states could change that, he said, competing and cooperating with each other.

Without change "it will get worse," he warned. "California is not working."

No one would dispute that California, home to 38 million people, is full of rivalries and squabbling. Dodgers or Giants. Tacos or sushi. Where water goes, and how much of it.

But the state has proven reliably resilient against attempts to split it apart, dating to the era of its founding in 1850. Over the years, proposals have suggested California should be two states, or three, or four.

"It's certainly fun to talk about," said Raphael Sonenshein, executive director of the Pat Brown Institute of Public Affairs at California State University, Los Angeles. But "its prospects are nil."

Even if it were to be approved by voters, Congress would have to endorse the idea of creating six new states — and adding 10 senators to the chamber's political mix (as with all states, California currently has two). Congress, under the U.S. Constitution, must approve the creation or division of any states.

"I don't think anyone is going to give California 12 Senate seats," Sonenshein said.

Draper, in documents he submitted to the Secretary of State's Office, recommends dividing California regionally, including establishing a state called Silicon Valley, which would include San Francisco and nearby counties that are home to technology giants like Facebook and Apple.

Los Angeles would become part of the new state of West California, which also would include the coastal cities of Santa Barbara and Ventura. The state's farming heartland would become Central California. San Diego would be the largest city in the new South California.

Earlier this week, he received approval from the state to begin collecting petition signatures to qualify the proposal for the ballot — he needs about 808,000 by mid-July to make the cut.

It's also possible the proposal could be delayed until 2016. Facing a tight deadline to gather signatures and build political momentum, "I want to make sure there is enough time," Draper said.

The complexities of dividing a state the size of California, by itself among the world's top 10 economies, would be daunting.

What would become of the California State Water Project, which uses aqueducts and pumping stations to disperse water across the state? If the federal government approves the idea, tax collections and spending by the state would end, and its assets and debts would have to be divided.

Draper said the smaller governments would be more responsive to the needs of residents and communities, compared to Sacramento. There would be vigorous competition for residents among them, he predicted, again driving change.

Campaign veteran Matt David doubted the proposal would get far.

"California is as diverse geographically as it demographically, but ultimately we all take pride in the fact that we are Californians," said David, a Republican consultant based in Los Angeles. "Diluting that identity between six states will never happen."

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hawaiiwalter wrote:
This plan has about as much chance as Muffi has to become governor.
on February 20,2014 | 02:58PM
soundofreason wrote:
The Jon Galt story begins to unfold. Leaving losers behind in their own districts. This is exactly how and why NORTH Las Vegas became a separate city than Las Vegas. It's happened with cities.....why not a State too? Not too far fetched. But you're right on the Muffi part.
on February 21,2014 | 06:35AM
NanakuliBoss wrote:
A venture capitalist wants to make the split? Hmmmm, What next a lawyer?
on February 20,2014 | 03:21PM
Anonymous wrote:
Whoever thought of this is smoking too much dope !!!!!
on February 20,2014 | 03:32PM
glenn57377 wrote:
If California cannot be governed.......how does so many other large states and medium sized countries do it? I can see maybe three, or two........but, six? I think Alaska qualifies for fifty of their own states.
on February 20,2014 | 10:12PM
Solara wrote:
It's not by acreage but by population density. It does make sense though. If people don't feel represented — that their voices are not heard — then they start feeling disenfranchised and opt out of participation. Democracy requires participation by its citizens or it fails.
on February 21,2014 | 12:19PM
HD36 wrote:
Too many bankrupt counties. They need to contain the out of control spending. No Federal bail out.
on February 21,2014 | 04:42AM
serious wrote:
I think it's a great idea--I'd like to see 10 Boxers and Feinsteins--NOT!!!!!!
on February 21,2014 | 04:54AM
fbg wrote:
10 new Senators? It is simply a grab to control the senate.
on February 21,2014 | 05:41AM
soundofreason wrote:
I didn't think about that perspective. You just might be right.
on February 21,2014 | 06:37AM
Bdpapa wrote:
I've noticed that the very rich are going to have Silicon as their State, including San Francisco. All clean industry and plenty of money.
on February 21,2014 | 06:28AM
Usagi336 wrote:
What? So my favorite CFB team would be called the UWC Trojans?? No can.
on February 21,2014 | 07:07AM
DABLACK wrote:
on February 21,2014 | 07:21AM
HD36 wrote:
Why pay BART workers $100k when the train doesn't even run in your area?
on February 21,2014 | 07:27AM
kispest wrote:
Of course it can not be governed, to manny dipstick liberals!
on February 21,2014 | 08:18AM
mongoosa wrote:
They should divide Oahu. Honolulu and Windward.
on February 21,2014 | 09:33AM
salsacoquibx wrote:
or maybe each island can become its own state...wow..lol
on February 21,2014 | 10:56AM
false wrote:
and whose going to take Waianae?
on February 21,2014 | 11:13AM
seaborn wrote:
Read between the lines, republicans have a hard time winning offices in the state, so bust it up.
on February 21,2014 | 02:36PM
sailfish1 wrote:
6 states is too much. Maybe 3 max would be reasonable.
on February 21,2014 | 06:20PM
Mike174 wrote:
I'd love to see it happen! Even 2-3 new states would be better. As to extra senators: There are a lot of real conservative parts of Ca. Could end up with 5 of each. The valley with big agribusiness? The corporations could own yet more senators. But realistically? won't happen.
on February 22,2014 | 06:09AM
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