Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone becomes the latest lawmaker to suggest that California be split into separate states. It’s an idea that has been around for a long time. Here is some information culled from Internet sources:
Throughout California’s history, since statehood in 1850, there have been more than 220 attempts to divide California into two, three, four or even eight separate states, including at least 27 serious proposals that have gained at least some traction among lawmakers. There also have been calls for the secession of California from the United States and restoration of the California Republic.
Even before statehood, the South strongly pushed for a slave state in Southern California. The South reluctantly acceded to a single, free state in the Compromise of 1850.
In 1854, the California State Assembly passed a plan, never approved, to trisect the state with Northern California becoming the state of Shasta and Southern California becoming the state of Colorado (today’s state of Colorado did not come into existence until 1861), with the central state remaining California.
In 1859, still during California’s first decade of statehood, Assemblyman Andrs Pico, a Californio who had commanded the Mexican forces against the U.S. Army in 1846 at the Battle of San Pasqual, introduced a bill that would split California in two. Under Pico’s proposal, the northern part of the state would remain California, while the state’s five southernmost counties — Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, San Bernardino, San Diego, and San Luis Obispo — would secede from the U.S. and be reconstituted as a federally-administered territory called Colorado. (Again, this was before the founding of today’s state of Colorado.)
The legislature and governor approved the Pico Act but the federal government refused to act on it.
In the late 1800s, there was talk in Sacramento of splitting the state in two at the Tehachapi Mountains because of the difficulty of transportation over the range. The discussion ended when the Ridge Route highway was built, successfully transversing the mountains.
For years the mountainous region of Northern California and parts of southwestern Oregon intermittantly joined forces to form a new state called Jefferson. In 1941, some counties in the region ceremonially seceded from their respective states to promote the proposal. The movement stalled when America entered World War II.
The California State Senate voted on June 4, 1965, to divide California into two states, with the Tehachapi Mountains as the boundary. Sponsored by State Senator Richard J. Dolwig (D-San Mateo), the resolution passed 27-12. To be effective, the amendment would have needed approval by the State Assembly, by California voters, and by the United States Congress. The proposal did not get out of committee in the Assembly.
In 1992, State Assemblyman Stan Statham sponsored a bill to allow a referendum in each county on a partition of California into three new states: North, Central, and South California. The proposal passed in the State Assembly but died in the State Senate.
In 2003, during the successful gubernatorial recall campaign, there were unheeded calls for the central and northern regions of California to split into four new states, to be centered in the Bay Area, North Coast, Central Valley and Shasta/Jefferson region.
As recently as 2009, former State Assemblyman Bill Maze lobbied to split off 13 mostly liberal coastal counties into a separate state to be known as Coastal California or Western California. Maze’s rationale was that Los Angeles, San Francisco and other liberal enclaves control the state and “conservatives don’t have a voice.”
Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone, also concerned about the political alignment of the state, has called for Southern California’s mostly conservative counties to form a new state called South California that would exclude Los Angeles County.