California divided into three states
California divided into three states. Courtesy CAL 3

The controversial initiative to divide California into three states must be removed from the November ballot, the state Supreme Court ruled Wednesday.

The justices ordered Secretary of State Alex Padilla not to put the initiative before voters, saying “significant questions have been raised regarding the proposition’s validity.”

“We conclude that the potential harm in permitting the measure to remain on the ballot outweighs the potential harm in delaying the proposition to a future election,” the state’s highest court said.

The “CAL 3” initiative is backed by Tim Draper, a billionaire Silicon Valley venture capitalist, who argues that “citizens of the whole state would be better served by three smaller state governments while preserving the historical boundaries of the various counties, cities and towns.”

One proposed state would be called California or a name to be chosen by its residents after a split. It would consist of Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Monterey and San Benito counties.

A second state, Southern California or a name to be chosen by its residents, would consist of Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Imperial, Kern, Kings, Fresno, Tulare, Inyo, Madera and Mono counties.

The remaining 40 counties would be part of the state of Northern California or a name chosen by its residents.

The Supreme Court’s ruling was in response to a lawsuit brought by the nonprofit Planning and Conservation League based in Sacramento.

If the court ultimately rejects the challenge, the initiative could still potentially appear on a future ballot.

“Apparently, the insiders are in cahoots and the establishment doesn’t want to find out how many people don’t like the way California is being governed,” Draper said after the ruling. “They are afraid to know the answer as to whether we need a fresh start here in California.”

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.