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Who gets Yosemite? Where top landmarks would fall in 3 Californias plan

Patrick May, The Mercury News on

Published in News & Features

I'll trade you a piece of Yosemite Valley and all of the Napa wine country for Disneyland and the Santa Monica Pier.

California voters will decide this November whether to split the Golden State into three entities, dubbed California, Northern California and Southern California. An initiative to divide the state, pushed by Silicon Valley venture capital investor Tim Draper, received enough signatures to qualify it for the November ballot. Supporters say splitting the state would lead to improvements in infrastructure and education while lowering taxes.

But the idea's passage is a long shot at best: Voters polled overwhelmingly disapprove of the idea, and even if the measure does pass in November, the proposal must still be approved by Congress.

If it manages to pass at the polls and in Congress, the plan would look like this:

-- "California" would have approximately 12.3 million residents, according to the plan's supporters, and would be centered around Los Angeles County and include five other counties to the north and along the coast up to Monterey and San Benito counties.

-- "Northern California" would have 40 counties with approximately 13.3 million people and include the San Francisco Bay Area and everything up to the Oregon border, including California's current state capital of Sacramento.

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-- "Southern California" would have 13.9 million people in 12 counties and, despite its name, carve out a large section of Central California all the way up to Mono County, making a loop around Los Angeles to claim Orange County, San Diego and the southern flank of the state.

In many places, the divide would get tricky. For example, Yosemite National Park would suddenly straddle two of the new states since part of it is in Madera (Southern California) while other parts are in Tuolumne and Mariposa (Northern California) counties. And don't even get us started with probable battles over how the state's precious water reserves would be distributed since California is currently crisscrossed with an insanely complex grid of aqueducts, dams, levees and channels.

Here's a quick look at which new state would grab which of California's existing treasures:



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