[Talk-us] California is too big ;)

L. David Baron dbaron at dbaron.org
Tue Nov 6 20:13:13 UTC 2018

As another Californian (from the SF Bay Area) with some amount of
opinion here, I suppose I'll chime in.

The straight-ish line (northern boundaries of San Luis Obispo, Kern,
and San Bernardino counties) seems largely reasonable to me as a
possible North/South two-way split.

(Other possible splits are a 3-way North/Central/South split as the
official wine regions do ("North Coast AVA", "Central Coast AVA",
"South Coast AVA"), or a 4-way split as the federal judicial
districts do (Eastern/Northern/Central/Southern), but I think both
of those, particularly the 3-way that splits the San Francisco Bay
Area in half, involve more awkward decisions.  Note that the 4-way
judicial split aligns with the proposed 2-way split with the
exception of Kern county.)

The counties that feel most ambiguous to me in the North/South split
we're discussing are perhaps:

 - San Luis Obispo, which Luis wrote about

 - Kern, which is part of the central valley but in this split falls
   as the only central valley county in the south half of the split

 - Inyo and maybe even Mono counties, east of the Sierras, which are
   perhaps better connected to San Bernardino county to their south
   than to the Central Valley on the other side of the Sierras.

but I don't have any particular local knowledge of these parts of
California.  The article
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southern_California reflects the first
two ambiguities, but
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northern_California does not reflect
any.  I'd note that district lines drawn in
seem to pull Kern county to the north, and Inyo and Mono to the

The one other thought is that the Northern/Southern split may be
somewhat awkward to outsiders looking at a map of California, who
may be surprised that a point 35% of the way from California's
southern border to its northern border would count as Northern

That said, I guess if California needs to be split, the two-way
split at this straight-ish line seems like it may be the most
straightforward option.


On Tuesday 2018-11-06 10:27 -0500, Greg Troxel wrote:
> Luis Villa <luis at lu.is> writes:
> >> My guess is the only split that the majority in the state would instantly
> >> recognize would be “Northern California” and “Southern California”. However
> >> exactly where that split occurs is likely to be contested. :)
> >>
> >> Were I to hazard a guess, I would start on the coast somewhere around San
> >> Luis Obispo
> >
> > I think Tod is correct here that north/south is the only split most
> > Californians would recognize, and that the dividing line is not consistent.
> > (You might also get a "Central California" from some folks, but the
> > dividing lines there would be similarly fuzzy.) My wife grew up in San Luis
> > Obispo, and people from LA tend to say she's from Northern California and
> > San Franciscans say she's from Southern California.
> I'm someone who has only been to California occasionally, and for me
> also the north/south split is the one that seems the most likely for
> many to be able to grasp.
> I have never heard of "six californias" in any coherent way; it seemed
> new on reading.  And I would have little clue about the edges of those
> boundaries even seeing the list of names.  So I think that's not a good
> idea, because split extracts need to target being understood by
> nonlocals.
> I would of course recommend listening to locals about exactly shere
> between SF and LA the line is, and I would align to counties so that
> each county is in north or south, and have the east-west line more or
> less try to follow latitude from the breakpoint from the coast.
> With a N/S split like we are converging on, most users that are ok with
> half will guess right the first time, and people that care about areas
> near the border will get it that they are near the border and need both
> or the whole thing.
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𝄞   L. David Baron                         http://dbaron.org/   𝄂
𝄢   Mozilla                          https://www.mozilla.org/   𝄂
             Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
             What I was walling in or walling out,
             And to whom I was like to give offense.
               - Robert Frost, Mending Wall (1914)
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