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Advocates of splitting California into six states gathering signatures

Advocates for Six Californias, a plan to split the state up 6 ways, are holding a petition drive this weekend

Good day, future citizen of West California!

You may find yourself greeted thusly as you head into a supermarket or drugstore in Los Angeles on Saturday morning.

Advocates for Six Californias, a plan to split the Golden State into a half dozen separate states, are holding a petition drive this weekend to get their plan on the ballot in 2016.

The idea is the brainchild of Timothy Draper, a venture capitalist from Menlo Park – or as he hopes to some day call it, the state of Silicon Valley. Draper has sunk $2 million into signature gathering for the proposal. He maintains it will break bureaucratic deadlock in Sacramento (proposed state of North California) and attract more business.

"California has become the worst managed state in the country," he told The Times this spring. "It just is too big and too ungovernable."

Draper, a political independent, needs about 808,000 signatures by July 18 to get the measure on the ballot in two years. He has said he has support from the Oregon border (proposed state of Jefferson) to San Diego (South California), but the plan has been given almost no chance of success by some experts and ridiculed by Democrats and Republicans alike.

Anna Morris, spokeswoman for Six Californias, said in an e-mail that  the group has collected “a significant amount of signatures and are hoping to get the remaining signatures we need this weekend.”

“For people who put our chances at zero, we say that we are dedicated to challenging the status quo and are hopeful that Six Californias will be the much needed refresh for state government,” she said.

Joe Rodota, the co-chair of OneCalifornia, an opposition group, downplayed the significance of getting signatures on a petition.

“This is just a process that pretty much any well-funded interest can pursue,” said Rodota, former cabinet secretary for Gov. Pete Wilson. The real challenge, he said, is ballot approval and “it’s just very difficult to get a yes vote historically.”

Times political columnist George Skelton called Six Californias “crazy” and “really crackpot,” but he noted that attempts to break up the state have been around since its inception and can be highly diverting if never successful.

“Go ahead and put this thing on the ballot,” he wrote in April. “We could use some fun.”

harriet.ryan@latimes.com

For legal news, follow @latimesharriet

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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