Uncertainty about the Vote over Splitting California

The Story:

The California Supreme Court has removed from this November’s ballot an initiative to divide California into three states. The removal is tentative, though: the Court wants further arguments on whether the initiative question, known as Cal-3, should be struck down completely or restored to the ballot.


The initiative is the brainchild of a Silicon Valley venture capitalist, Tim Draper, who believes California is too large to be governable. Three distinct governments would be vastly more efficient, he maintains.

On Draper’s proposed map, the new “California” would be a coastal state from Monterrey to Ventura County, including Los Angeles and Santa Barbara. “Southern California” would include inland counties as well as the more southern stretch of coastline down to the Mexican border. “Northern California” would include everything from Santa Cruz to the Oregon border, include San Francisco, Oakland, and Sacramento.

The Thing to Know:

Splitting a state is nearly unprecedented in US history (although unionist West Virginia did split from secessionist Virginia in the extraordinary context of Civil War.) Any split would be an exceedingly complicated matter, given issues such as water rights and the management of infrastructure projects that do not split neatly along the proposed lines.

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