County official seeks to split Calif into 2 states

July 12, 2011 - 2:30 AM

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (AP) — An elected official wants 13 mostly conservative California counties to break away to create a 51st state under a proposal that would have to clear major hurdles to succeed.

Republican Jeff Stone suggests calling it the state of South California, short for SOS. He is asking fellow members of the Riverside County Board of Supervisors to support a motion to bring together officials from the 13 counties to discuss the idea.

A vote on the proposed meeting is scheduled for Tuesday

Stone said California is too big to govern, a situation that has led state lawmakers in Sacramento to raid local government coffers because of runaway spending. He knows it will be a challenge to create another state but doesn't believe it's an impossible task.

"I have come to the conclusion ... that the political priorities of Southern California and Northern California are completely different," Stone wrote in his motion.

The effort marks the latest in scores of secession movements in California dating back to the 1850s that aimed to cleave the state and split counties and cities.

Even if leaders from the 13 counties got serious about secession, the U.S. Constitution says no new state can be formed without the consent of Congress and the state Legislature.

Gil Duran, a spokesman for California Gov. Jerry Brown, said Stone's proposal is "a supremely ridiculous waste of everybody's time."

"If you want to live in a Republican state with very conservative right-wing laws, then there's a place called Arizona," Duran told the Los Angeles Times.

Stone's version of South California would not include Los Angeles County. Instead, it would encompass coastal Orange and San Diego counties, and more sparsely populated, inland areas such as Fresno, Imperial, Inyo, Kern, Kings, Madera, Mariposa, Mono, Riverside, San Bernardino and Tulare counties.

Combined, those counties have about 13 million people.

Stone also proposed that South California would have a part-time Legislature with no term limits as well as a newly built capitol building.