Plan to divide California into three states dead as billionaire backer abandons effort

By Robert Laurie

The idea of splitting California into a group of three smaller states generated visceral reactions on both sides, but it was always a long shot. In fact, “long shot” probably isn’t the right term.  “Pipe dream” is probably more accurate. Still, despite the odds, there was some excitement when the plan – backed by billionaire venture capitalist Tim Draper – seemingly made its way onto the ballot November ballot.

Then, questions arose about the validity of the plan’s use of the initiative process. A lawsuit was filed, and it was determined that the plan to divide the state needed to go through the legislature before it could be placed on the ballot.

As SFGATE reported:

Draper drafted the measure as a change in state laws rather than an amendment to the California Constitution, which would have required more signatures. But the lawsuit to block the measure contended Prop. 9 was so far-reaching that it amounted to a “revision” of the state Constitution. A revision cannot be done by initiative, but requires approval by two-thirds of both houses of the Legislature to be placed on the ballot.

In its order last month, the court said it was removing the initiative from the ballot because of “significant questions regarding the proposition’s validity.” The “potential harm” of allowing a public vote before those questions are resolved “outweighs the potential harm in delaying the proposition to a future ballot,” the justices said.

The court gave Draper 30 days to respond. As the Sacramento Bee reports, he has no plans to appeal, the plan is dead, and it won’t be coming back.

The proponent of a plan to split California into three states said a court decision to remove the measure from the November ballot “effectively put an end to this movement.”

Tim Draper, a wealthy investor behind the three California plans, wrote in a letter dated Aug. 2 that he does not intend to appeal the California Supreme Court’s decision from last month.

In the letter, Draper said he “did not qualify Proposition 9 for just any future ballot.”

“I wanted it to be on the ballot this year,” he said. “The political environment for radical change is right now — such change is sweeping the globe. I understand that change is hard, change is scary, but change is evolution and this government is not evolving.”

Draper previously argued in state filings that the split would create a more representative form of government.

Honestly, both sides of the political aisle are probably breathing a sigh of relief right now.  The Democrats didn’t like this, because they’re perfectly happy with California’s current, monolithic, status.  When you rule a massive territory with an iron fist, why shake up the status quo?  Republicans should be relieved because, despite their desire to crack the west coast version of the “blue wall,” this plan probably would have spelled trouble for them. A California divided into North and South would more than likely benefit the GOP, but the three state plan would have given Dems a massive boost – particularly in the Senate.

All things considered, it’s probably a good thing that the “3 Californias” plan is DOA.

Now, a plan to bisect California just North of San Francisco? That’s something we should all support…

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