by Donna Martinez
Former Senior Writer and Editor, John Locke Foundation
California is known for many things, and now a push to break up the state tops the list. The push for ‘three Californias’ is the most fascinating current example of efforts to break apart from a current jurisdiction by people who believe they aren’t being represented by current policies and/or policymakers. This happens with cities as well. Governing takes an interesting look at examples of de-annexation efforts and the inevitable questions about motives and who gets what if the effort succeeds. Take the case of Eagle’s Landing, Georgia.
In the case of Eagle’s Landing, in Georgia, the newly formed town would take $8 million dollars from Stockbridge’s general fund and leave that city with $13 million in municipal bond debt. Almost all of the 70 census tracts in what could become Eagle’s Landing would have a median family income of more than $74,000, while the remaining 253 census tracts in Stockbridge would have a median family income of less than $56,000, according to Moody’s.
Unlike a divorce, however, only one party gets any say — at least in that Atlanta suburb. Gov. Nathan Deal recently signed legislation that allows residents in an area marked for secession to vote in November on whether or not to form a new city. Stockbridge residents who don’t live in that part of town don’t get a vote.
The Los Angeles Times reports that Californians will vote in November on whether to divide the state into three parts. I have family in the LA area, and this proposal is generating lots of debate, particularly among middle-class families who are struggling to raise kids under the weight California’s high taxes and sky-high home prices.
In the initiative’s introductory passage, Draper argues that “vast parts of California are poorly served by a representative government dominated by a large number of elected representatives from a small part of our state, both geographically and economically.”
The proposal aims to invoke Article IV, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution, the provision guiding how an existing state can be divided into new states. Draper’s plan calls for three new entities — Northern California, California and Southern California — which would roughly divide the population of the existing state into thirds.
Stay tuned. At the very least, this California effort is forcing an important conversation: What do you do when you believe your values and views are not represented? Some might say the answer is at the ballot box. But will California prove there’s another way as well?