CALEXIT: What pushed one of California’s biggest counties to consider leaving the state


California’s fifth-largest county, home to 2.2 million people, will move forward with a measure to explore the option of secession from the state.

San Bernardino County passed a ballot measure to review state resources and appropriations “up to and including secession from the State of California,” according to language from Measure EE.

“Don’t treat us like a bumper sticker that can be easily scraped off a vehicle,” Bill Velto, mayor of Upland in San Bernardino County, told Fox News Digital.

Though Measure EE passed with 50.6 percent of the vote on Nov. 8, the likelihood of San Bernardino achieving secession from California is widely considered a long shot.

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

Jeff Burum, a San Bernardino resident and affordable housing developer who has been instrumental in pushing the effort forward, says this movement is “really about getting our fair share.”

“The measure was intentionally designed with the word ‘secession’ in it,” Burum told Fox in an interview. “But it was really about encouraging the residents to want to fight for our fair share of appropriations, our fair share of treatment.”

CALIFORNIA’S FIFTH-LARGEST COUNTY VOTES TO STUDY SECESSION AMID CRIME CRISIS, SOARING COSTS

Jeff Burum, an affordable housing developer and San Bernardino resident, speaks with Fox News Digital about the recent effort in San Bernardino County to secede from the state of California.
(Fox NewsDigital)

Burum expressed frustrations with state lawyers neglecting to devote proper resources to the county, given its size and population. He pointed to disparities in budget surplus allocation and energy shutoffs, as well of a lack of representation in the state legislature.

Velto pointed to specific frustrations with “unfunded mandates” and “underfunded mandates” frequently imposed on San Bernardino County by elected officials with little say from those affected.

Velto also expressed concerns with the state’s use of taxpayer money to fund the high-speed rail project between San Francisco and Los Angeles — often referred to as the “train to nowhere” — that has an estimated final cost of $105 billion and remains unfinished since being approved in 2008.

California's high-speed rail project, often referred to as the "train to nowhere," has a final cost estimate of $105 billion.

California’s high-speed rail project, often referred to as the “train to nowhere,” has a final cost estimate of $105 billion.
(Dave Levinthal/Center For Public Integrity)

The city of San Bernardino is the third-largest metropolitan center in the Golden State after Los Angeles and San Francisco. The region has been particularly afflicted with an ongoing homelessness crisis, rising home prices and crime.

San Bernardino was ranked as one of the most dangerous cities in the US, beating out Los Angeles and Oakland, California, in a recent study from WalletHub.

“I think the governor of our state would just as soon ignore us, and ignore what’s happened in San Bernardino,” said Burum, when asked whether Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom had been in communication with local leaders on the issue.

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California Gov.  Gavin Newsom did not respond to Fox News Digital's request for comment.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom did not respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.
(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Gov. Gavin Newsom did not respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.

Chuck DeVore, a former California legislator now with the Texas Public Policy Foundation, said, “These secession efforts are a symptom of a problem well known at the national level: a powerful and distant government that, in the best case, ignores the needs of disadvantaged communities or, more commonly, seems to go out of its way to make life difficult for them.”

Critics of the measure, including the chair of the San Bernardino County Democratic Party, have suggested that Measure EE was simply a ploy to turn out conservative voters in the Nov. 8 elections.

The San Bernardino County Democratic Party did not respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.

The next step for Measure EE will be to conduct a formal report on San Bernardino County and its “shortfalls,” in comparison to other California counties, that will be sent to state lawyers in Sacramento for review, according to Burum.

“If we’re going to succeed in our efforts, we hope that it’s an inspiration for our country that residents can believe again that they can make a difference,” he said.

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Fox News’ Timothy HJ Nerozzi contributed to this report.

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