Before tackling the arguments associated with the pros and cons of dividing California, the issue of how many states to divide California into should be examined.
Californians who are familiar with their state know that one can find a rationale for dividing the state into anywhere from two states to eight states. California is physically diverse. The State's California Environmental Resources Evaluation System (CERES) has performed a fairly thorough job of mapping the regions of the State as follows:
These maps indicate that no logical north-south divisions stand out providing a quick way to divide the state, even though most historical efforts tried to use horizontal lines along latitude numbers such as 36 degrees. While a simple approach, it isn't too logical to use horizontal lines. The watersheds and bioregions are a result of topographical features and climate. Consider a topographical map of California:
The first thing one observes from these three maps is that a "Southern California" seems to be identifiable. One might argue that the South Coast would seem to be different from the inland. There is some truth in that. But one can even demonstrate an odd tie between the two - the infamous Santa Ana winds:
One can't help but feel that Southern California is reasonably identifiable as a physically separate area from the rest of the State. The line to be drawn is not literally east-west or north-south. But some relationship probably exists between the physical and existing political boundaries. What about the rest of the state?
Again, in the past some have attempted to simply use a latitude number, a simple east-west line. But as the physical maps above indicate, particularly if one looks at the bioregions and watershed maps, an obvious fact stands out. The remaining portion of California has a coastal area more or less split off from the east by mountains. Further, when we review the political maps such as the 2000 Presidential election county results, we begin to see an area with an orientation:
The fact is a political divide does exist. In their San Francisco Chronicle column of November 1, 2004, Matier and Ross reported on some results by the Field Poll:
A split in the economies of the regions also applies. Dr. Tapan Monroe in 1995 (while serving as Chief Economist for Pacific Gas.& Electric) noted:
Monroe explains that during the 1990-93 recession the Los Angeles region economy declined earlier and more significantly primarily because of defense industry job losses but by 1995 recovered significantly from growth in service and entertainment industries. The Bay Area was more stable because of the higher education level of the population (remember this was before the dotcom bubble and burst). The Central Valley was the area of the fastest job growth attributed to such things as cheaper housing. He concluded:
In the most recent recession cycle, Southern California proved to be more resiliant, the housing boom particularly protected the Central Valley while, as we all know, the Bay Area economy tanked. All this confirms that three separate economies exist.
In addition, one more factor helps reinforce dividing the South Coast from the remainder. Appendix H of the Online Guide to California's Marine Life Management Act indicated the importance of this: (emphasis added)
Finally, if one takes a quick look at the California highway and railroad maps one can see that transportation corridors have created an east-west split in the North portion of the State:
Taking all of these physical and economic realities into account plus historical considerations and using existing county boundaries for ease of mapping, it is suggested that California should be divided into three states in some manner close to the following map:
While we will be using the above map for further discussions, it should be noted that some elements of it will be troublesome. Kern County, for instance, might more logically be included in Northern California. If one considers everything it probably should be divided along with Solano and Contra Costa, all as indicated on the map below:
However, these details are not something that can be resolved on this web site. For statistical analysis, the map with undivided counties will be used.
The last point to be taken up is that of limiting the split to three states. The political facts of life are that even with just three states Californians would gain four U. S. Senators, no small concern for the other states. However, a division as suggested here as of 2004 would create four open Senate seats unless incumbents Diane Feinstein or Barbara Boxer relocated, for they both would live in Coastal California which would be the most liberal new State. The new Southern California and Northern California would likely present new opportunities for both of the two major parties with the real possibility that two conservatives and one or two moderate Republicans could take the seats. Of course, Democrats could take the seats also, but the point is that true opportunities would exist for both parties. This should make the idea more appealing in the current Congress.
Political realities aside, the three new states would constitute "average sized" states when compared to the rest of the states. Let's take look at the new states that would be created. Click on the "Next Poppy" below.