More BYU students call California home than any other state outside of Utah, but that could change due to a proposal by one California politician.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Republican County Supervisor Jeff Stone of Riverside County, Calif., outlined his proposal to create the new state of South California out of 13 counties in eastern and southern California.
The new state would hypothetically include the counties of Riverside, San Bernardino, Imperial, San Diego, Orange, Kings, Kern, Fresno, Tulare, Inyo, Madera, Mariposa and Mono. Currently that area is home to about 13 million people.
Although there is criticism for Stone’s idea, he is not the first to think of it. More than 200 proposals to split the state in different ways have been made since 1850.
Alexander Morgan, a BYU student from Rocklin, Calif., grew up about 20 minutes from Sacramento. Morgan doesn’t think a California split is likely.
“I don’t think it will ever happen realistically,” he said. “There is too much history, too many roots as one state. The state is intertwined.”
Morgan said he wouldn’t want the state to separate because he doesn’t think it is needed.
“I don’t think it’s really necessary,” he said. “I feel like in California we have a lot more things to think about than to worry about geographical lines and boundaries.”
Bryson Lanterman, also a BYU student, spent most of his life in southern California. Lanterman said he is not sure splitting would be a good thing, but he could see the potential for two states.
“I would split it if you knew that it would be better economically or better for the nation,” he said. “But that’s very subjective.”
Lanterman said he thinks the separation isn’t as far-fetched as it sounds.
“Could it happen? Sure, why not,” he said. “I think most Californians think of it as two states already.”
Kris Witscher is a graduate of UC Berkeley in northern California, but grew up in San Diego County.
Witscher said her experience in both areas has helped her see political, social, as well as economic discrepancies in different parts of the state.
Witscher said the economic condition of the state is serious enough right now that she could see something as drastic as secession as an answer. But she said even that is unlikely.
“The only real reason that I can see for splitting the states is the economic deficit, but other than that, no,” she said. “Together it is a powerhouse. California would have one of the largest economies in the world if it were an independent nation. Having that prowess as a state is a huge incentive to stay together.”