Election

Californians to Vote on Breaking Up the State, Again

June 2, 2014

Creating the state of California took a revolt that led to the short-lived Bear Republic, a war with Mexico, and various international treaties. Now, some northern natives hope to take it apart, starting with a couple of ballot initiatives.

Tuesday, voters in Del Norte and Tehama Counties will consider a measure calling for separation from California and the formation of a new state. Supporters are hoping to generate momentum for pulling together portions of northern California and southern Oregon into an entity to be called Jefferson. Thomas Jefferson once imagined that part of western North America might develop into a freestanding republic.

Local vexations with state government were cited by Aaron Funk, an aptly named organizer of the movement: “lack of representation, lack of infrastructure, inability to use a lot of our resources.”

Heavy winter rains often wash out U.S. 101, a major artery in the region. That really rankles him. So do restrictions on timber harvesting. Most of all, Funk loathes the region's paltry representation in California's senate, with its population-based allocation. Just 28,000 people call Del Norte County home, compared to 38 million for the state overall.

Business owners are doubly confounded, he said, and face “mounds of paperwork, red tape.” Funk owns and lives in a recreational vehicle park in the coastal town of Klamath.

Opponents of the measure say it sounds an economic death knell for the area, given its poverty and high unemployment.

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