To reiterate, I like the idea of the 6 Californias campaign because of the conversation it could spark about the state’s size, and our need to decentralize power from Sacramento. (I’m discounting the idea of California as six states because it won’t happen – voters are almost certain to turn it down and even if they approved it, the other states would never go along).
But the details of the ballot initiative, which seems headed to the 2016 ballot, are problematic. Among the biggest problems: it’s deeply hostile to Southern California.
Draper’s idea is supposed about empowering the state’s disparate regions. But his ballot initiative would split the biggest region in half, turning millions of Southern California commuters into people who work and live in different places.
Instead of keeping the Los Angeles region whole, he takes L.A. County and puts it in a state with Ventura County (which might make some sense, since it’s part of L.A.) and then Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties (which doesn’t make much sense, since they are part of a different region, the Central Coast.
And he splits L.A. County from Orange County and the Inland Empire counties of San Bernardino and Riverside. Those three counties go with San Diego and Imperial in a massive, sprawling state that covers multiple regions.
This is a fundamental failure to understand California’s geography – and strongly suggests that political motives (creating more Republican states) are part of the motivation here. A reasonable Southern California state would put L.A., the OC, and Inland Empire together, with Ventura. Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties would go with other Central County coasts to the north (which Draper’s proposal folds into the Bay Area and Central California). San Diego and Imperial would be their own states.
Of course, doing that would mean produce at least one more state – 7 – but so what? Draper’s rationale for six states is that California is six times bigger than the average U.S. state.
Why do these lines matter in a ballot initiative that will get attention but won’t do what it proposes to do? Because California, if it wants to have a future of rational governance, needs regional governance. And that requires clarity about the lines and boundaries of those regions. Draper confuses things.