Thursday, July 20, 2006

So Let's Carve up California

Driving around the Golden State, I found myself oft asking, "Am I really still in California?" From rugged coasts to soaring skyscrapers, from dead-flat farmlands to snow-covered mountains, California is certainly one of the most diverse states in terms of geography.

But it's also diverse in terms of the "feel" of a region. Crescent City seemed like part of the Northwest. Mendocino to Monterey seemed like an endless string of B&Bs pierced by the swanky Bay Area. South of Big Sur, I felt the pull of Los Angeles (and desparately fought it). Go over the mountains down into the Central Valley and it's a whole other world (with lots of country and Christian radio stations). The east side of the Sierra Nevada had a similar ethos to the Central Valley. Tahoe was its own creature, with the B&Bs of the San Francisco coast thrown in with the pulse of the Nevada casinos across the border, all on top of the rural culture. And then back into the giant valley. Redding felt more like Barstow than Crescent City or San Francisco, despite the disparate distances involved.

So I propose four states: the far north (southern Jefferson), the Bay Area and coast, the Central Valley and Sierra Nevada, and southern California. In the early 1990s, a state legislator tried to get the state divided into two, and then three. He was trying to separate the northern portion (Chico (his hometown) and northward), but then cut off SoCal, too, to get more support. But that still left San Francisco in the same state as Fresno, and I just don't see that as a winning solution. There's a definite dividing line somewhere between San Jose and Modesto.

To find the exact borders, I'd suggest a (non-binding) vote where the voters can rank the areas they most associate with. It would probably be simplist to separate along county lines, but maybe some (San Bernadino County, for instance) really want to be split.

I wonder where San Luis Obispo would end up.

1 comment:

Pedicularis said...

A higher priority for me would be to carve up King County and make the eastern half into Cedar County, and to carve up Washington State by turning everything east of the Cascade crest over to Idaho to administer. Neither issue has been brought up for a vote of the people, but I think both would pass if only the affected areas were allowed to vote.