The initiative to split California into three separate states gained enough signatures to make it on the ballot for November. That probably doesn’t come as a surprise; this has been tried before. The most recent attempt was to split the state into six, but that failed because the signatures were not verified.

Now, however, Californians will have the opportunity to vote on it. But, what does that mean? It depends on which side of the border/state line you’re sitting.

Tim Draper, the Silicon Valley billionaire behind the current movement, claims it will benefit Californians greatly. “Three states will get us better infrastructure, better education and lower taxes,” he said. “States will be more accountable to us and can cooperate and compete for citizens.”

The split could also potentially give more Democrats control. Currently, the U.S. Senate is made up of 100 seats with two of those belonging to the Golden State. However, should the state split, the Senate would become a 104-member chamber – as adding two states adds four more seats from the largely Democratic area. This not only dilutes the power from the other states, it also poses the risk that those six senators could ultimately join together on certain issues should they so choose.

But what else could this split mean to Californians?

The Great Divide

Draper claims the state will be divided into California, Northern California, and Southern California, and that they will be relatively equal in population, economics and resources. Well, let’s take a look at that, shall we?

Northern California

According to Draper’s website, the population would be 13.3 million and consist of 40 counties. Geographically, the state line would run from Santa Cruz to the Oregon border and would include the current state capitol Sacramento as well as San Francisco.

The leading industries, as he points out, would include agriculture, high tech manufacturing, trade and tourism, and forestry. The median household income is predicted at $63,000.

This area includes the Napa Valley wine country as well as the canyon and mountain areas such as Shasta and Santa Cruz. It also includes a small portion of the Central Valley, which is the main agriculture area.

Southern California

Whereas Northern California included 40 counties, this area would only have 12, including much of the Central Valley. The border line would draw south from Fresno County to include Orange, San Bernardino, and San Diego counties and east through Tulare County. Estimated population: 13.9 million.

Draper’s model shows the industries for this proposed state would include agriculture, manufacturing, trade and wholesale, and financial services. He projects the median income to be $45,000.

Something to keep in mind here is that this is the area most affected by border control efforts. Many of the cities resisting the sanctuary status of the state would end up in Southern California.

And now for the kicker.


The name should tell you all. This section is conveniently named after the state from which it is proposing to split away from. It also boasts some of the richest lands and investments around. It makes up much of the coast and only contains six counties: Los Angeles, Monterey, San Benito, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Ventura. It would be like its own little ocean-front property exclusive community.

At an estimated 12.3 million in population, it is also the least populated of the three proposed states by at least a million people.  Its leading industries include high tech manufacturing, tourism, forestry, and of course, motion pictures. Did you notice agriculture wasn’t among the list? The median income is suggested at $53,000.

Across State Lines

The divide will cause a lot of problems for citizens and residents. Students living in Fresno, for example, may have to pay an out-of-state tuition if they are attending a school in Los Angeles. Corporations and businesses may find their companies scattered across the states; all with potentially different laws, rules and regulations.

The New California, consisting of the ocean front property, will need to import fruits, vegetables, and other crops. And then there’s the water rights issue; something that is extremely important in the drought-afflicted state. The Central Valley, for example, has a difficult time finding enough water, and a lot of the water that passes through the area is already claimed by Los Angeles – which will be in a different state if the initiative passes.

Let’s not forget the federal funding for emergency services, road maintenance, and the numerous other programs states count on to help subsidize their general budgets. Where will that money come from? As the Los Angeles Times Reported:

“This measure would cost taxpayers billions of dollars to pay for the massive transactional costs of breaking up the state, whether it be universities, parks or retirement systems,” said Steven Maviglio, a Democratic political strategist representing opponents to the effort. “California government can do a better job addressing the real issues facing the state, but this measure is a massive distraction that will cause political chaos and greater inequality.”

However, all may not be lost. According to a Survey USA Poll, 72% of those polled would vote against splitting the state with only 17% in approval and 10% undecided. And, even if the initiative somehow passes in the November elections, it will still be a long road to travel before it could be officially approved. If passed by voters, it would then face the California State Legislature. Even after that, the initiative would likely be challenged in court and would still need congressional approval. In other words, don’t expect to see three Californias anytime soon.


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Tess Lynne

National Correspondent at

Tess Lynne is an author, editor, and publisher. Her writing interests span many genres including a former crime/government reporter, fiction novelist, and playwright. Originally a Central California girl, Tess now resides in the Seattle area.

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