This week over a million Californians surprised the world by signing a petition to put a billionaire venture capitalist's criminally stupid Six Californias plan on the ballot. But people familiar with the state's history of trying to tear itself apart weren't surprised. Californians — specifically, Republican Californians — have a long and embarrassing history of wasting time and money on poorly conceived attempts to make the state more manageable. Still, Tim Draper's idea to create six states, including an incredibly wealthy Silicon Valley, is probably the worst.
In fact, we were so sure this is the worst plan to partition California in recent memory that we decided to prove it. It is. Using a complex rating system based on the criteria below, we ranked the four major plots to divvy up the Golden State in the last few years: Six Californias, the State of Jefferson, Southern California and Coastal California.
Each plan can earn up to 40 points, with a total of 10 points awarded for each of the following categories:
- State Names: The general rule of thumb is there can only be two variations of the same name. West Virginia and Virginia. North Dakota and South Dakota. South Carolina and North Carolina. More than two and you're just being ridiculous.
- Cultural Cohesiveness: Are you grouping NorCal people with SoCal people? That's dumb. Or, translated into NorCal, that's hella dumb.
- Fairness: Is wealth evenly distributed? Or does your plan exile the poorest parts of the states?
- Honesty: If you're honest about your plan's true motives — creating a Republican state, creating an island of tech plutocrats – then you deserve a few points.
Six Californias, 2014
Mastermind: Tim Draper
Status: The effort has enough signatures to appear on the ballot two years from now. If it passes, Congress would still have to approve it.
The Plan: Draper, a venture capitalist, argues that California is too big to offer proper competition and representation. The six states would be Jefferson, Silicon Valley, Central California, Northern California, West California, and South California.
State of Jefferson, 2013 - Present
Mastermind: The State of Jefferson has been a pipe dream for decades, but the most recent iteration has been voted on by several counties over the last year.
The Plan: As The Wire explained in June, the northern part of California (north as in Humboldt, not Berkeley) would join with southern Oregon to create a state attentive to the needs of rural people.
Southern California , 2011
Mastermind: Former Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone
The Plan: Turn everything from Fresno to San Diego (except for coastal counties) into Southern California. The new state would also free up time to protect the border. From CBS LA:
The creation of the new state would allow officials to focus on securing borders, balancing budgets, improving schools and creating a vibrant economy, he said.
“Our taxes are too high, our schools don’t educate our children well enough, unions and other special interests have more clout in the Legislature than the general public,” Stone said in his statement.
Coastal California, 2009
Mastermind: Former conservative Republican State Assemblyman Bill Maze
The Plan: Literally, take all the coastal Democratic counties and turn them into Coastal California. Or Western California. Maze was serious. The now-defunct downsizeca.org website read: "Citizens of our once 'Golden State' are frustrated and desperately concerned about the imposition of burdensome regulations, taxation, fees, fees and more fees, and bureaucratic intrusion into our daily lives and businesses." Maze also started a non-profit called Citizens for Saving California's Farming Industries.
As we expected, Six Californias is literally the dumbest of several not very good ideas.