SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. - A new proposal could lead to San Bernardino County breaking off from the state of California to form its own state. If supporters of the idea have their way, county residents should be able to vote on it this November.
That’s what real estate developer Jeff Burum proposed at last night’s San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors meeting, saying that Sacramento is not supporting Inland Empire counties, which are some of the fastest growing in the country.
Burum cites issues like housing and homelessness, which he's familiar with as one of the larger developers in the area. One of his pet peeves is the high cost of housing, which he blames on "unfunded mandates" from Sacramento, ordering infrastructure that yes, is needed (think roads, schools, parks) but not funded by the state and placed on the shoulders of developers, with the ultimate cost ending up on consumers.
To be fair, this year’s state budget did fund programs like an animal shelter and a fire station, but even the mayors of Inland Empire cities like Fontana and Upland say they are being shortchanged by Sacramento.
The idea is not new. It’s been tried by different California counties as far back as 1941 and as recently as 2018, when venture capitalist Tim Draper backed a ballot initiative to split California into three states. While the proposal qualified for the ballot, the state Supreme Court pulled the measure so its legality could be studied.
Since, even with voters approving it, the state legislature would have to approve secession and involve Congress, chances of this happening are slim, which Burum knows. But, as a man used to making things happen, he says he will push for it if for no other reason than to get people talking about the issues.
Supervisors talked about forming a committee to study the issue, but should they decide to turn it over to voters on the Nov. 8th ballot, as Burum wants, the issue will have to be taken up on the August 9th meeting to meet the deadline for inclusion on the ballot.
Should the county secede from California, they already came up with one possible name… Empire.