Silicon Valley investor: Split California into 6 states

December 31, 2013: 9:39 AM ET
california state flag
Is California too big to govern? Big-name Silicon Valley investor Tim Draper is pushing a voter initiative to split the state up.
HONG KONG (CNNMoney)

Is the most populous American state too big for its own good?

Tim Draper, a third-generation venture capitalist with a penchant for big ideas, is promoting a plan that would split California into six separate states.

The proposal calls for the creation of new states called Silicon Valley and West California that would be anchored by the cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles. Orange County and San Diego would be part of the new state of South California. To the north, remaining counties would be divided into regions called Central California, North California and Jefferson.

Why now? According to the proposed ballot initiative Draper filed earlier this month, the Golden State has been rendered "nearly ungovernable" by social and economic changes.

California has 58 counties, nearly 40 million people and an economy so large that it would rank among the top 10 countries in the world.

But given the state's diverse geography and industries, Draper's ballot initiative argues that the "citizens of the whole state would be better served by six smaller state governments."

"I am endorsing this initiative because it is a way to localize governance and bring more representation to the local level," Draper said in document distributed to reporters. "I am planning to work to get it on the ballot."

2013's worst in tech

The plan would also create a "marketplace" for governments, and voters in each county could pick and choose which state they wanted to be part of.

Related story: 9 tech startup CEOs on the best and worst of 2013

Draper will need to collect thousands of signatures for the measure to be brought before voters in November. With seemingly little current popular demand for partition, gathering enough support to make the ballot could prove difficult.

The initiative would raise some thorny issues, including the division of water rights -- a life and death economic matter in the deserts of Southern California. There would also be significant Constitutional questions to resolve.

The third-largest state in terms of area behind Alaska and Texas, California has long managed to resist division.

Like Draper, advocates for partition in counties near the Oregon border have in the past evoked the "Jefferson" name while pursuing statehood -- a reference to the president who dispatched Lewis & Clark to the Northwest.

Draper founded the Silicon Valley venture capital firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson in 1985, and is now running Draper University, an entrepreneurship program. The California native is well known in Silicon Valley for his investments and appearances on a Nickelodeon TV show called "The Naked Brothers Band."

Join the Conversation

Search for Jobs