Map: If California Split into Six States, This is What It’d Look Like

Includes interactive map

Click on different points of the map below to see which counties would be part of each one of California’s six new states, as outlined in a new proposed ballot initiative. Per capita income and population figures are listed for each proposed “state,” based on analysis by the California Legislative Analyst’s Office. [Read the story under the map for more context].


California’s Secretary of State this week gave a wealthy Silicon Valley venture capitalist the green light to start collecting petition signatures for a proposed ballot initiative to split California into separate jurisdictions.

Tim Draper, who has made a fortune investing in web start-ups like Skype, argues that the Golden State is too massive to effectively govern as a single body, and wants to divide it into six independent smaller states.

Pretty bold.

The “Six Californias” campaign needs to collect the signatures of 807,615 registered voters by the mid-July deadline in order to qualify for the 2014 state ballot.

California, Draper says, is too populated and diverse to adequately address the demands of its residents, and divided states would lead to smaller, more responsive governments.

As stated in his plan:

Vast parts of our state are poorly served by a representative government dominated by a large number of elected representatives from a small part of our state, both geographically and economically.”

But critics are quick to argue that this is just the latest push in a perennial effort by wealthy communities to redistribute tax revenue locally and avoid subsidizing lower income areas of the state.

It’s not the first attempt to slice up the largest state in the country: periodic efforts have been made since California gained statehood in 1850, including an ongoing push by some residents in far northern California to create a state called Jefferson that would include a few counties in southern Oregon. Like previous secessionist efforts, Draper’s campaign is a long shot, to say the least, and it poses an array of feasibility problems, including a vast reorganization of water and energy delivery systems, Congressional approval and the inevitable onslaught of fierce litigation. But the proposed borders are, nevertheless, worth taking a look at, as they highlight some of California’s extreme economic disparities as well as its uneven population distribution.

The gaps are underscored in California’s non-partisan Legislative Analyst’s analysis of the proposal. According to the report, the new state of Silicon Valley, which would encompass most of the Bay Area, Santa Clara County and parts of the Central Coast, would have the highest per capita income in the nation, out-ranking Connecticut (funny coincidence that Draper happens to reside here). Meanwhile, the neighboring state of Central California, encompassing mostly poor agricultural counties in the Central Valley, would be at the very bottom in per capita income, behind Mississippi.


  • BigWhiteDog

    1% trying to pull a fast one. He will get richer and the rest of the suckers will starve.

    • JaiGuru

      Actually forcing an insolvent state to stay whole only benefits the elite. This is actually a very novel way of dealing with this state’s inability to remain solvent. Spreading out the load over separate regions would be very useful and allow for partisanship in each of these states to fulfill the task in a meaningful manner.

      I’m not saying redistricting is going to be free of partisan problems. The old saying has been repeated and I’ll repeat it again: If you can’t win an election, redistrict. But that said, no administration in the last 15 years has made even a dent in California’s descent into insolvency. It truly is a failed state. Why should the rest of the nation bear this burden? We already have one Mississippi.

      • Liberius Cato

        California as it is isn’t working, and this plan at least has the virtue of never having been tried.

        • Mitchell

          Failed state? I guess that’s why the richest state in the nation would be the Left Coast. “San Francisco County would be part of the new state of Silicon Valley: Per capita personal income: $63,288 (highest of any U.S. state).” These days, our biggest problems (and bitterest struggles) are by-products of prosperity — and of the huge numbers of people willing to pay through the nose to live here!

          Conversely, the Central Valley resembles Texas, politically and otherwise. You might like it there. Meanwhile, please keep your political advice to yourself, along with your definition of “failed potential.”

          • Liberius Cato

            “Unbalanced budgets and high taxes, or poverty and income inequality?” In California, there’s not an or in that sentence. Some of the richest places in America are in California, as are some of the poorest. California leads the way in income inequality.

            I think a breakup would benefit areas that are neglected by the current state government, most especially the Central Valley and the “Jefferson” area by allowing them to structure their government to their realities and address their ongoing problems. I’d imagine the locals would prefer it to petitioning a state government that regularly neglects their needs to tend to the whims and wants of the coastal cities.

            Increased representation and the ability to act on their own needs may be exactly what’s needed to get those regions “mired in failure” out of their failure.

            Certainly, the status quo isn’t benefiting them at all.

          • Mitchell

            “In California, there’s not an or in that sentence.” Huh? Meanwhile, your Texas avatar and reference to Cato (as in Cato Institute) speaks volumes. If you love Texas, please stay there. I like it out here on the Left Coast, and I’m hardly alone. Meanwhile, please answer my observation about the Texas-style policies and priorities responsible for America’s decline since 1964.

          • Liberius Cato

            The problem with high taxes on the rich is that the rich have the means to evade those taxes, and afford lawyers that can point out every possible loophole in those taxes… so you end up with millionaires and billionaires that have most of their fortunes in the Cayman Islands where US authorities can’t touch them, and the parts that they declare here net a much smaller tax yield.

            It’s on the order of 70% of one of those 6 inch Red Baron microwaveable pizzas vs. 30% of an extra large deep dish. A flatter, fairer, less convoluted tax structure with less carve-outs for special interests would make going to all of the inconvenience and expense of maintaining those tax lawyers and offshore accounts more of a hassle than it’s worth, and increase yields.

            As far as balanced budgets go, while there are things you can buy on credit that will increase your standard of living and competitiveness, not everything that you can buy on credit will do that. A civilian analogue would be buying a new F-250 to haul lawncare equipment so you can start a landscaping business, or buying a new BMW so you can ride around in style. The cost is about the same, but one will expand your means and the other will just be a drain on resources
            The problem is that governments love drains on resources and don’t spend a lot of money on expanding means. Until they show an ability to spend my money more wisely, I’m disinclined to give them more of it, or continue to allow them to buy stupid things on public credit.

          • Mitchell

            Well, we’re far afield from the initial discussion, but briefly: (1) I’m all for closing the tax loopholes currently available to the rich. That isn’t automatically a pretext for demanding that the tax system be made less progressive as some sort of perverse quid pro quo. (2) I don’t accept the notion that wealth is preferable to citizenship as a criterion for enfranchisement.

            “The law locks up the man or woman
            Who steals the goose off the common
            But leaves the greater villain loose
            Who steals the common from the goose.”

            As for what’s “stupid,” when one considers “private” denial of responsibility for externalities like pollution (and corporate immunity from liability) vs. public spending on infrastructure and education, I’m not convinced that private balance sheets are any more trustworthy than public ones as a source of wisdom for a polity.

          • Liberius Cato

            There’s no such thing as a complete immunity from liability, corporations only protect their individual shareholders from liability by making the only valid target for lawsuits the corporation itself.

            Why is this? If you bought into a mutual fund that invested in, let’s just say, Starbucks, and one of their major ingredients was found to be a carcinogen on the level of asbestos a few years down the line, you’d be happy for that liability protection. Because without that liability protection, the mutual fund you invested in would be looted by ambulance chasers and your retirement would be adversely impacted by the actions of a company you never had any real control over.

            Now imagine if you owned a few dozen shares of Starbucks directly? Say goodbye to everything you’ve got.

            Without that kind of liability protection, business activity would stop because people are naturally risk-averse and wouldn’t take a chance in either owning or starting a business, because of the very real possibility that some event somewhere down the line might wipe out everything they’ve ever had.

          • Mitchell

            So be it. You’re acknowledging that the entire corporate notion of reality is an artifice (promulgated by government statute) designed to promote business activity. That reduces the “libertarian” obsession with property rights to its own form of rent-seeking and special pleading.

          • Paul

            Pat Brown created a boom….. oh my God the “boom” was the explosion of laughter at reading that delusional statement. Go ahead and delude yourself you ignorant proggie drone.

  • Dolly

    This is beyond stupid! If they are so set on splitting up why not do north and south almost like Virginia and West Virginia but to split in 6 is over kill. I believe it would cause more problem then it would solve.

  • mommadona

    What bullshit

  • K.T.

    California should stay as one and secede from the union. It’s the United States that is too massive to be an effective governing body.

    • sjames

      I wouldnt mind if Cali were to secede. They are currently sucking other states dry. I think that if there is a split, It should only be broken into 2-3 chunks.
      The US is ineffective, but California is THE prime example of a failed state: loads of resources, tons of beaches, huge population, international fame yet they can’t balance a budget.

      • Mitchell

        I guess that’s why the richest state in the nation would be the Left Coast. If you think we’re a failed state, move to Texas. We won’t miss you!

        • sjames

          ” the richest state in the nation would be the Left Coast.”
          lol. Not sure where you get that idea. Forbes and HuffPost cite studies showing California debt passing 1 trillion! Remember when the governator considered selling the state prisons?
          According to the OCregister, Cali leads the US in public debt. Until you guys can learn to elect people who can control spending and balance a budget, you will be a laughing stock and example of failed potential.

          • Mitchell

            “San Francisco County would be part of the new state of Silicon Valley. State of Silicon Valley: Per capita personal income: $63,288 (highest of any U.S. state).”

            Please keep your election advice to yourself, along with your definition of “failed potential.” These days, our biggest problems (and bitterest struggles) in these parts are by-products of our success — and of the huge numbers of people willing to pay through the nose to live here!

          • sjames

            Next sentence: “Meanwhile, the neighboring state of Central California, encompassing mostly poor agricultural counties in the Central Valley, would be at the very bottom in per capita income, behind Mississippi.”

            You can keep telling yourself that the state has no problems, but you’re only fooling yourself.

          • Mitchell

            I said “the Left Coast,” dummy! Conversely, the Central Valley resembles Texas, politically and otherwise. You might like it there.

          • sjames

            Sorry, “dummy” but I don’t see “Left Coast” listed anywhere as it’s own state. If you meant “Silicon Valley” then obviously you would have said it.
            Why are you so against Texas (btw, I’ve never even been to Texas) but I highly doubt that “central valley” even closely relates to Texas, especially considering how rich and prosperous Texas is.
            Are you so anti-Texas out of jealousy, ignorance or just because? I’m anti-big budget California because it affects people in other states.

  • Keith Tyler

    On the map on the website, Colusa Co is in North California and not Jefferson.

  • Jared Barney

    I could see 2 or 3 states but six is ridiculous i could see jefferson, north and central together. Then pair west, south, and silicon together.

  • Lorin Chane Partain

    Best idea I have heard in a long time. I will be moving to Jefferson ASAP.

  • Ngallendou

    Six is too many. Two could win sufficient support, three less so. There are two main motives in subdividing states, as they do every few years in India: (a) keep state governments weaker than a central government, and (b) stop taxing the rich to support the poor. The net effect proves even more burdensome, for the population must now support two legislatures, two bureaucracies and two Corrections Corps contracts.

  • gigi

    This will not happen anytime soon. I guarantee in five years this will be a forgotten topic.

  • BigArf47

    I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and knew California as California. We were a state with everything from sandy beaches, tall redwoods, agricultural industries, snow capped mountains and desert lands. To divide such a great state does not make sense! We never saw San Francisco as Northern California and Los Angeles as Southern California….just California! Why some rich guy in Silicon Valley thinks it’s a great idea proves that he either will personally benefit from such a move both financially and fame wise, or, it is an attempt to put places such as Silicon Valley on top of all the other so-called ‘Californias’ that would result. Then, what would happen to the national political landscape? How many capitals would there be? Did anyone ask Californians about how they really feel about all this? I think that some poeple have too much time on their hands and should focus on important issues, such as the economy, education, overcrowding in prisons, immigration reform, the crisis in the Ukraine, along with much much more! Trying to slice up the Golden State like a sausage will not accomplish much and cuase more harm than good!!

  • Pinay60

    So will each state have their own Army and Air National Guard Units? Or, how about six California Highway Patrol agencies?

    • KellyJ

      Why not. Vermont has their own Guard and Patrol forces, as does Rhode Island and CT, Mass, Maine, etc. The difference being the existing infrastructure, personnel, and equipment would be split up based on the current geographic region where they are located. It would then be up to whatever Laws and Regs the “new” State Governments set up to operate and maintain those resources.
      IF this goes through (and the US Congress approves), the hard work will actually begin. Writing a new State Constitution. Setting up the new buearacracies. Deciding on new regional Capital Cities. Construction of same. Determining how many Representatives of each type, the voting districts, Terms of Office. Elections. Installing new Governors and his Cabinet (even deciding what Cabinet positions we think are required). Drafting Laws and Regs. Setting up new Courts and electing Judges. Creating new Tax Law and the infrastructure to collect that. DMVs, School Boards, Prisons, even how the Lottery will operate. Not to mention any tribal lands that end up split between State lines. And then you have the issue of the States current debt…how will that get split up to the new States?
      And then comes National Elections to select new Reps and Senators and everything that entails.
      This is not an easy thing and even after a YES vote is complete and the Congress says YES…it may take several years to complete the documentation to initiate the process. The Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776, but the Constitution was not Ratified until 1790…14 years from splitting off to having a final document of Governance complete.

      • Pinay60

        Thanks, I was still thinking of “ONE” California, and not six separate states.

  • Justin Waters

    This would increase California’s number of Federal Senators from 2 to 12! This idea makes a lot of sense if the people of California want a representative government. Every highly populated state should consider splitting into smaller states to increase political representation for their people.