Capitol Alert

Split California in three? The clock is ticking for proponents to get it on the ballot

In 2014, Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tim Draper presents his driver's license for identification purposes to Heather Ditty, elections manager for the Sacramento County Registrar of Voters, as he turns in boxes of petitions for a ballot initiative that would ask voters to split California into six separate states in Sacramento. The effort failed to qualify for the ballot then. On Tuesday, Draper's proposal to split California into three states qualified for the November ballot, the Secretary of State's Office announced.
In 2014, Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tim Draper presents his driver's license for identification purposes to Heather Ditty, elections manager for the Sacramento County Registrar of Voters, as he turns in boxes of petitions for a ballot initiative that would ask voters to split California into six separate states in Sacramento. The effort failed to qualify for the ballot then. On Tuesday, Draper's proposal to split California into three states qualified for the November ballot, the Secretary of State's Office announced. AP file

Signature gatherers are out this winter collecting the 365,880 needed for a proposed ballot initiative that seeks to divide California into three separate states.

Tim Draper, the tech billionaire behind the “three Californias” proposal, still has until April 23, 2018 to qualify the measure for the November ballot. But there’s an early indication that Draper’s chances this time around are just as slim as the last time he proposed splitting California.

Proponents of any proposed ballot initiative must notify the Secretary of State’s office if they have collected 25 percent of what’s required, and that has not happened, according to Sam Mahood, a department spokesman.

Draper did not respond to requests for comment.

His proposal, cleared for signature gathering Oct. 24, would divide California into three states:

Northern California, which would stretch from Santa Cruz to the Oregon border and include the Bay Area, the Sacramento region and parts of the San Joaquin Valley. It would be home to 13.3 million people, according to an analysis by the state Legislative Analyst’s Office. In population, it would rank about fifth in the U.S., just ahead of Illinois and Pennsylvania. Per-capita income for the area was about $63,000 in 2015.

Southern California would be the fourth most populous state, with 13.9 million people – behind Texas, Florida and New York, according to the state analysis. It would include large parts of California’s Inland Empire, including Riverside and San Bernardino counties, as well as San Diego and Orange counties. Per-capita income for the area was about $45,000 in 2015.

The new “California” would include Los Angeles County, with more than 10 million residents, and Ventura County, for a total of 12.3 million total in the new, separated state envisioned by Draper. Per-capita income for the area was about $53,000 in 2015.

Draper’s previous proposal to split California into six states failed in 2014. He advanced the three-state idea this year, saying “the citizens of the whole state would be better served by three smaller state governments while preserving the historical boundaries of the various counties, cities and towns.” In a letter to the state, he said his proposal is driven by California’s size and diverse economy.

“Political representation of California’s diverse population and economies has rendered the state nearly ungovernable,” he wrote.

But splitting California would be enormously challenging. Congress would have to sign off, as well as the state Legislature. It would force major decisions regarding school funding, tax revenue, health care and social services, water supply, state prisons and more. Court challenges would be “virtually certain,” and take years to resolve, the LAO report found.

Steve Maviglio, a Democratic consultant, said he’s readying a ballot measure committee opposing the initiative, should it qualify.

“The concept of splitting up the state three ways is as silly and ill-conceived this time around as it was in its previous incarnation,” Maviglio said in an email. “Whether it’s the trillions it would cost to dismantle the UCs, prison systems, parks and all of California’s other institutions, or the notion of creating three new governments, the notion of a billionaire wanting to chop our state without any thought to how that might actually happen is dangerous.”

WORTH REPEATING: “I’ll be frank: We’re behind the curve on this one, and I need your help.” –Republican U.S. Rep. Tom McClintock, in a fundraising appeal for his re-election campaign noting heightened energy on the left.

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CALIFORNIA LANDMARKS: The California State Archives has released nearly 3,000 newly digitized photos that captured historic and riveting moments in California’s history, San Francisco before and after the 1906 earthquake, the Hollywood Hills, Yosemite and World’s Fair exhibitions.

The photos were taken by William and Grace McCarthy, native Californians, from 1905 to 1938.

“While most of us do not leave the house without a camera on our smartphone now, William and Grace documented California during a much different time,” said Secretary of State Alex Padilla. “As early adopters of automobile travel and personal photography, the McCarthys embodied California’s pioneering spirit. Their photo collection captures the landmarks and events that defined California.”

The digitized photos are available for viewing here.

MUST READ: A new tax regime is on its way. Here’s how Californians can adjust.

CELEBRATE: Happy birthday to Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, who turns 70 today, and to state Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, who turns 62.

HO HO HO: Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! The Bee’s Capitol Alert morning newsletter is on break until Jan. 3, when the 2018 session convenes.

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