California three-state plan faces major legal, political hurdles

David McNew  Getty Images North America

David McNew Getty Images North America

Californians will vote in November on whether to split the state into three separate parts.

Venture Capitalist Tim Draper is behind the initiative. He backed proposals in 2012 and 2014 to create six California states, but both initiatives fell short of gathering enough valid signatures.

State lawmakers, individual counties and imaginative wealthy people such as Draper have tried more than 200 times to hatch plans to either slice the state into pieces or secede from the union entirely, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The Bay Area would be part of a new Northern California state with a border that starts north of Monterey, runs east and north to the Nevada state line, and includes everything north to the OR border. Southern California would consist of 12 counties, including San Diego and Orange counties, the Inland Empire and much of the Central Valley.

The initiative depends on Article IV, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution, where the document sets the conditions under which a state can split itself up.

This CNN graphic breaks down an initiative that would divide California into three separate states. The proposal calls for three states to be formed: Northern California, roughly the Bay Area to the OR border; California, which would include six coastal counties, including Los Angeles, Monterey, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura; and Southern California, which would go from Fresno to San Diego, excluding those six coastal counties. It could easily be bankrolled by some of the state's most powerful forces, especially those aligned with Democratic leaders. He emerged last September with a more modest idea: Cal-3, the plan to slice California in thirds, rather than sixths.

Graphic of the State of California shows the divisions of a proposed initiative to split the state into three states
Graphic of the State of California shows the divisions of a proposed initiative to split the state into three states

If voters approve the measure, it would still have to be ratified by Congress.

People in California will have the chance to vote on the radical proposal to split the state into three.

"Political representation of California's diverse population and economies has rendered the state almost ungovernable".

But Draper contends that the state needs a change and cutting it up into three parts is the solution. "Think of North Carolina and South Carolina; North Dakota and South Dakota; West Virginia and Virginia - California is already known for its Northern and Southern identities", according to the Cal 3 website. "Californians deserve a better future".

Breaking up the state would add four new members to the Senate. "Some of the legal and practical issues of splitting up California suggest there is a high likelihood that the process would take many years to complete".

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