Once again there is talk of splitting California into two. Usually, the efforts to split the state come from the sparsely populated northern countries.
This time Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone is advocating that thirteen counties from Southern California and the Central Valley break off to form the 51st state. Stone calls California “ungovernable,” but his plan is more of an attempt to segregate more conservative counties from the liberal areas in the rest of the state.
The thirteen counties contain nearly 13 million people, about one-third of the state’s population. Populous Los Angeles County, with over 10 million people, would not be included. Stone kept Los Angeles out of the proposal because it has the same “liberal policies” as Sacramento.
The Los Angeles Times reported over 220 attempts to split California since it became a state in 1850. That is more than one attempt per year. For Californians, splitting up the state is an old story, but some proposals have been credible. Stone’s proposal is a bit different and unrealistic.
Los Angeles is the economic and cultural center of Southern California. To leave that city and county by itself would create an artificial barrier between Los Angeles and its neighboring counties. Although it would be similar to New York City, which is a hub for New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and beyond, that region adapted to the political boundaries over 200 years, well before the nation’s founding. Stone is suggesting splitting the country’s largest county from its historical relationship with the southern part of the state.
Beyond leaving Los Angeles out of the new state, Stone misses one of the most crucial and important issues in Southern California — water. Stone’s thirteen counties contain the driest parts of the state. Stone’s South California would have to import water from California in prodigious amounts.
Stone may not like the liberal policies of the rest of the state, but I bet he still wants the liberals’ water. California might not be so willing to part with its precious liquid to a less than gracious southern half.
Governor Jerry Brown’s office called the proposal “laughable.” Brown’s press secretary Gil Duran suggested a simpler solution for Stone.
“If you want to live in a Republican state with very conservative right-wing laws, then there’s a place called Arizona.”