San Bernardino County secession measure moves forward, added to November ballot

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Thursday, August 4, 2022
San Bernardino County secession measure moves forward
San Bernardino County voters will get a chance to vote on whether they want the county to secede from California.

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (KABC) -- San Bernardino County voters will get a chance to vote on whether they want the county to secede from California.

The county Board of Supervisors voted Wednesday to put the measure on the November 2022 ballot.

Many people who spoke at the board's regular meeting said they believe the county is missing out on revenue it deserves.

If successful, the longshot plan would create the first new state since Hawaii was granted statehood in 1959.

On July 26, Rancho Cucamonga businessman Jeff Burum asked the Board of Supervisors to put the advisory measure on the ballot.

"It's time for our citizens to stand up and say enough is enough," he said at the time.

A local real estate developer and two mayors are urging San Bernardino County to secede from California and establish a new state, possibly dubbed "Empire."

He criticized state officials as being ineffective and disconnected from the needs of people in the Inland Empire.

"Our judges are constantly taxed with too much, with not enough resources," Burum said during the public comment section of the Board of Supervisors meeting last month. "The state of California continues to allocate resources to the high-cost areas to our detriment and other Inland Valley communities. It's time to stop it. It's time for our citizens to stand up and say, 'Enough is enough.'"

The mayors of Fontana and Upland both spoke in favor of the proposal.

"They act like we don't exist," said Fontana Mayor Aquanetta Warren. "We are the economic engine of the state, and you need to pay attention to that."

She urged officials to look at the booming warehouse industry, for example, and the efforts by some in the state Legislature to try to stop it.

"We're the goods movement, pay attention to that," she said. "Don't try to penalize us because we're moving the goods of the nation."

As far as population, San Bernardino County has almost 2.2 million people. If it were to become its own state, it would be more populous than 15 other states in the country.

But is seceding from California a pie-in-the-sky idea?

"It's not practical," said Claremont McKenna College Professor of Government Jack Pitney. "It's just not going to happen."

He said there's a lot that supporters of the idea might not be thinking about.

"It's one thing to say we should manage things ourselves, it's another thing to pencil it out," said Pitney. "For one thing, education. If you live in San Bernardino County, you might want to go to UCLA or Cal State Long Beach and get in-state tuition. If San Bernardino County becomes its own state, that's not possible anymore. Every state has its own national guard, so the new state would have to figure out how to do that. Transportation and infrastructure, no more Caltrans ... it adds up very quickly."

Even if San Bernardino County voters were to approve secession, the state Legislature and U.S. Congress would still have to approve it.

"The political side is this county would be much more likely to elect Republicans to the U.S. Senate, which means that it's dead on arrival with all the Democrats currently in control of the Senate."