Should It Stay or Should It Go? San Bernardino County’s Secession Analysis Due Soon

Should It Stay or Should It Go? San Bernardino County’s Secession Analysis Due Soon

Armed officers from the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department on patrol near the scene of a crime in San Bernardino, Calif. on December 2, 2015. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)

Travis Gillmore
Travis Gillmore


Updated: 6/10/2024


After voters in San Bernardino County voted in 2022 to approve a study determining whether the county was receiving a fair share of state and federal resources and evaluate all options—including secession—the analysis is expected in the coming weeks.
Residents narrowly passed a ballot measure in November 2022 that called for hiring an outside consultant to review the resources received by the county in past years and study the potential financial impacts of seceding from the state.
As the largest county in the nation in terms of square miles—just smaller than West Virginia—and with a population of more than 2 million, it has received money from the state that has failed to meet the needs of the community, according to some residents.
In August, Blue Sky Consulting Group—a public policy and economics consulting firm headquartered in Oakland—was chosen by the county in a competitive bid process to undertake the study at a cost of $192,400.
The plan will include a timeline, financial analyses, fair share determinations, and strategic interpretations of available options, according to the contract.
Tax revenue generated by the county will also be compared to allocations directed by the state to the county.
During a Board of Supervisors meeting last year, a presentation to the public said that infrastructure, education, public safety, and judicial expenditures would be thoroughly evaluated to assess the county’s fiscal situation.
According to the contract between the consulting group and the county, the assessment will include all “legal, practical, and financial issues” including “obstacles and opportunities” that could arise if the county secedes from California to join a neighboring state or to establish its own.
A preliminary report was filed with the county in December 2023, with the findings yet to be released, and a final report is expected by June 11.
The report will also compare revenues received by counties in Arizona and Nevada to those received by San Bernardino in recent years and to determine if joining one of those states could prove beneficial to the region.
Some locals are seeking to secede from California to start a new state of “Empire,” or to join either Arizona or Nevada.
A key proponent of secession, Jeff Burum—founder and co-managing member of Diversified Pacific, a Rancho Cucamonga based home development firm—told The Epoch Times on June 3 that while he loves California, a lack of accountability in state government is affecting the quality of life for many people across the state.
“It’s important because government needs to be held accountable as equally to how they hold citizens accountable,” Mr. Burum said. “The governing policies are run by a minority of people that don’t represent the majority of the population, and if we’re going to fix it, secession has to certainly be on the topics of the agenda.”
The judicial system is being hobbled by what he perceives as an unfair allocation of resources from the state—with funding shortages impacting the sheriff’s department, district attorney’s office, courthouses, mental health programs, and other services, he said
“We’re the least [proportionately] funded court system of any county in the state based on the state’s own standards and guidelines,” Mr. Burum said.
He suggested the state has grown too large for the government to effectively manage its finances—thus causing some regions to suffer from a lack of oversight and disproportionate allocations of resources.
“As the government continues to grow, so do the inefficiencies, and at some point, we need to look at the impact the government is having on us as a society.” Mr. Burum said. “The common-sense folks need to stand up and be heard these days.”
The idea of seceding from the Golden State is not a novel approach, as more than 200 such attempts have occurred since California was established in 1850. While none have proved successful, popular movements are ongoing in certain parts of the state—including east of Los Angeles and in Northern California.
One Los Angeles resident critical of San Bernardino’s secession study said the move would not benefit the region.
“Such hyper-localized thinking,” the Los Angeleno posted in August 2023 on X. “San Bernardino trying to secede helps nobody at all. Let’s get serious.”
Some in favor of the secession study, however, feel that more counties will seek to do the same in the future.
“San Bernardino has voted to secede from CA,” one resident posted Jan. 5 on X. “I am sure most inland counties will follow suit. Do not forsake us.”
With the final report anticipated in the coming weeks, it is uncertain how soon the county will release the findings to the public.
Furthermore, it remains unclear whether the county will seek to vote on an actual secession plan if the report suggests that such could prove financially viable for the region.

Travis Gillmore is an avid reader and journalism connoisseur based in California covering finance, politics, the State Capitol, and breaking news for The Epoch Times.

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