California’s fifth-largest county votes to study secession amid crime crisis, soaring costs

Residents of San Bernardino County, California have voted to research the possibility of secession from the state. 

Voters approved a ballot measure directing officials to look into the legal realities of separating from California to establish a new state.

However, even with approval from voters and officials, a separation from the Golden State is a longshot proposal. 

This attempt to create a new state — which would be the first since Hawaii in 1959 — is a proposition for the county just east of Los Angeles, which has suffered from sharp increases in cost of living. It would hinge on approval by the California State Legislature and Congress, both of which are highly unlikely.

There have been more than 220 attempts to break up California over its 172-year history, all of which have failed. Secession requires approval by Congress and the legislature.

San Bernardino is a 20,000-square-mile county with a population of over two million residents. 

The exploration of secession is a result of discomfort among the county’s diverse population with a rapidly growing homelessness problem, perceived overtaxation and an inability to control crime.

The city of San Bernardino filed a bankruptcy case in 2012 after grappling with a dire cash shortage. 

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Scott Clarkson closed the case in September, because the city had resolved claims and has shown that it can pay its outstanding long-term obligations.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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