One hundred and sixty four years ago, California became the 31st state of the United States of America. That was before Hollywood churned out movie stars, before Silicon Valley churned out iPhones and way before San Francisco churned out free thinkers. In other words: it was a long, long time ago…and back then, becoming one giant state was a bold, exciting and—as far as we’re concerned—pretty excellent feat. Now, fast forward to 2014 where there’s an even bolder idea in play. Can you guess? If you’ve been reading the news sites lately, you probably can: There’s a proposal out there to split California into six individual states. Seriously.
Seems far-fetched and a wee bit kooky at first glance, right? But since the funding-master and visionary—Tim Draper—already managed to snag well over the necessary number of signatures to put the measure on the 2016 ballot (he needs 807,615 according to the SF Gate), it’s seeming like the Six Californias plan may be something we need to take seriously. Yep, there’s a chance out there that instead of proudly declaring “we’re Californians!” (as we love to do), we might have to get used to saying things like “we’re Jeffersonians” if you live in Mendocino County—or “we’re Silicon Valleyians” if you’re a San Franciscan—which is weird because San Franciscans love to say they’re from “Northern California”…which will actually mean they’re from Sacramento in this new Draper-world-view…ok, you see where it all gets rather confusing.
But, since it will likely be something we all need to vote on come 2016, let’s get acquainted with the pros/cons and lifestyle options we’d face with the new-and-confused-six-state-reality.
The State of Jefferson
Major Counties: Mendocino, Humboldt
Neighborhood Watch: Mendocino, Fort Bragg, Ukiah, Eureka, Ferndale
Pros: Medicinal Marijuana is legal
Cons: Medicinal Marijuana is legal
Proposed Nickname: Cannabis County
Proposed Motto: “Chillax, it’s all good.”
State Exports: Pears, redwoods, bohemian art and a little herb that Bob Marley once called, “the healing of a nation.”
Asking Prices: The median home price in Humboldt County is $248,960; while the median home price in Mendocino County is $319,230.* Humboldt has seen housing prices drop ever so slightly since June 2013 in contrast to Mendocino’s gigantic 31% jump from the same month a year ago.
Housing Stock: Single-family listings on www.californiamoves.com range from a $5,499,000 three-bedroom, 4,862 square-foot ocean view home in Mendocino to a $195,000 three-bedroom, 2,500 square-foot house in Eureka.
Report Card: Some of the most revered schools in the county include Mendocino K–8 and Mendocino High School, as well as the private Waldorf School of Mendocino County (K–8). For more school ratings, visit www.greatschools.org.
The State of North California
Major Counties: Sacramento, El Dorado, Sonoma, Napa
Neighborhood Watch: Downtown Sac, El Dorado Hills, Folsam, Yountville, St. Helena, Healdsburg
Pros: Best wineries around
Cons: San Francisco isn’t part of your state anymore
Proposed Nickname: Wine-Ville
Proposed Motto: “Smile, It’s Wine-O’Clock!”
State Exports: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chef Thomas Keller, The Governator
Asking Prices: In June, Napa County’s median sold price is $556,250—up 9% from the same time a year ago; Sonoma County’s median sold price is $497,010— up 10% from June 2013. Sacramento County has some of the lowest median sold prices in the “state,” with the median sold price at $271,630—40% below California’s current median of $457,160. The county’s median price is up 9% from the same time last year.
Housing Stock: In Sacramento, housing stock spans from suburban masterplanned communities to historic downtown charmers. On CaliforniaMoves.com, there is everything in between a $3,495,000 gated Italian estate set along the Sacramento River to a $50,000 two-bedroom fixer. Napa, by contrast, boasts Robin Williams’ prized $29,900,000 Villa Sorriso estate to a $139,000 rustic two-bedroom cabin.
Report Card: Some of the most revered schools in the county include Grass Valley Charter School, Union Hill Elementary School, El Dorado’s Union Mine High School, Tahoe Lake Elementary School and Sacramento Charter High School. For more school ratings, visit www.greatschools.org.
Below: Your Future North California Home?
The State of Silicon Valley
Major Counties: San Francisco, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz
Neighborhood Watch: Upper Mission (San Francisco), Noe Valley (San Francisco), Woodside, Portola Valley, Palo Alto, Downtown San Jose, Carmel-by-the-Sea, Pebble Beach
Pros: Some of the best schools in the nation are here
Cons: Extremely high cost of living
Proposed Nickname: Tech-a Mecca
Proposed Motto: “Don’t Try. We’re Smarter Than You.”
State Exports: The iPhone, Tesla, AdWords, IT’S-IT Ice Cream Sandwiches, Ghiradelli chocolate, sourdough bread bowls, and those cute little otters stationed around the Monterey Bay Aquarium
Asking Prices: San Francisco County currently boasts some of the most expensive median sold prices in the state: $987,500. Big surprise. That’s more than double the state average. Of course, that’s nothing compared to its county neighbors: San Mateo is at $1,120,000 and Marin is at $1,060,610. You might find better deals along the coast in Monterey. The median sold price in that county is $485,000.
Housing Stock: Inventory continues to be an issue in many cities. In San Francisco, you’ll find anywhere from an iconic Pacific Heights mansion for $27,500,000 to an $85,000 one-bedroom condo for your grandma in the beautifully-renovated, senior-oriented Carlisle building. In San Jose, buyers have their choice from a $4,900,000 five-bedroom home with views and lots of acreage to a $220,000 one-bedroom condo in a new building. Single-family homes in Monterey start with a $3,495,000 five-bedroom dream with ocean views in the Monterra Ranch community and end with a $349,000 New Monterey cottage that needs finishing work.
Report Card: Some of the most revered schools in the county include: San Francisco’s Sherman Elementary School and Lowell High School, as well as Santa Cruz’ Happy Valley Elementary School. For more school ratings, visit www.greatschools.org.
Below: Your Future Silicon Valley State Home?
The State of Central California
Major Counties: San Joaquin, Fresno, Kern
Neighborhood Watch: Fresno, Clovis, Bakersfield, Tulare, Mammoth Lakes
Pros: Home to Fresno: #1 agricultural producer in the nation
Cons: It needs water—badly.
Proposed Nickname: Dustbowl Republic
Proposed Motto: “Dehydration Is the New Hydration.”
State Exports: Oil, grapes, raisins, almonds, oranges and pretty much any food that grows. Oh, and frog-jumping.
Asking Prices: If you’re looking for value, you won’t have any trouble finding it here. Fresno County boasted a median sold price of $201,080 in June—up 14% from the year prior. Its southern neighbor, Kern County tends to be a little more expensive, with a median sold price of $215,000 (up 10%).
Housing Stock: Although it’s rare, single-family home prices can reach in the millions—especially for new construction or those homes set around a lake. According to CaliforniaMoves.com, there is a five-bedroom custom home on the market for $1,199,995, all the way down to a $33,000 tear-down/fixer.
Report Card: One of the most revered schools in the county includes: Bakersfield’s Valley Oaks Charter School. In the Fresno area, Clovis Unified schools have been named 31 times to the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program and honored 100 times as California Distinguished Schools. For more school ratings, visit www.greatschools.org.
The State of West California
Major Counties: San Luis Obispo, Ventura, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles
Neighborhood Watch: Paso Robles, Pismo Beach, Montecito, Beverly Hills, Venice, Culver City, Downtown L.A.
Pros: Gorgeous coast, gorgeous weather, gorgeous people
Cons: Expensive and crowded
Proposed Nickname: Glamouropolis
Proposed Motto: “Don’t Hate Us Cuz We’re Beautiful.”
State Exports: Freeways, Botox, Kim Kardashian, The Fast and the Furious Franchise, Harry Perry, Pinot Noir (“I am NOT drinking any ****ing Merlot!”), Ronald Reagan, hipsters and the best Korean food in the U.S.
Asking Prices: In June, Los Angeles County’s median sold price rang in at $435,950—up 8% from last year. Santa Barbara County boasted the highest median sold price in June with $659,480 (down slightly from 2013).
Housing Stock: Real estate in Los Angeles ranks, of course, among the most expensive in the nation—but there are a lot of variables, almost always having to do with location and space. Case in point: housing stock currently ranges from a $75,000,000 Colonial Wallace Neff-designed estate on seven acres in Bel Air to a $70,000 one-bedroom condo in L.A.’s Baldwin Village Community. Santa Barbara isn’t much better, with its housing stock vastly ranging from a $49,000,000 11.2-acre historic estate to a $299,000 two-bedroom condo. (For better values, head 10 miles north to Carpinteria.)
Report Card: Some of the most revered schools in the county include: L.A.’s Melrose Elementary School, Santa Monica High School, Santa Monica’s McKinley Elementary School, Sherman Oaks Elementary Charter School and Santa Barbara’s Mountain View Elementary. For more school ratings, visit www.greatschools.org.
Below: Your Future West California Home?
The State of South California
Major Counties: San Diego, Orange, San Bernardino
Neighorhood Watch: Costa Mesa, Anaheim, Laguna Beach, Gaslamp District (San Diego), La Jolla, Rancho Santa Fe, Riverside, Palm Springs
Pros: Home to “The Happiest Place on Earth” and some of the best beaches in the nation
Cons: That darn border issue is front and center
Proposed Nickname: Happyland
Proposed Motto: “I’m going to South California!”
State Exports: Avocados, oranges, real housewives, Mickey Mouse, golf, Legoland and one of the world’s largest zoos.
Asking Prices: San Diego’s median sold price is $531,350—up almost 10% from last year. The best prices can be found inland: San Bernardino posted a median sold price of just $202,420 in June (up a whopping 15% from a year ago), while Riverside County posted a median sold price of $321,840 (up 7%). Orange County had the highest median sold price of “South California”: $696,680. Not terribly surprising when you look at its current housing stock.
Housing Stock: Laguna Beach has matured in recent years to rival the homes of Los Angeles. Take this $59,900,000 architecturally superb house as an example. On the other end of the spectrum, there’s a turn-key 2-bedroom condo in the Laguna Terraces. La Jolla may be Laguna’s southern coastal counterpart; single-family homes there range from $28,000,000 to $60,000. And if you want a good deal? Head to the desert: you can get anywhere from a legendary $34,000,000 estate to a $114,000 three-bedroom. The fact that you can get a Palm Springs modern house for under $2 million says it all.
Report Card: Some of the most revered schools in the county include: Einstein Academy, Preuss School Ucsd, Helix High School, and Bayshore Preparatory Charter School. For more school ratings, visit www.greatschools.org.
Below: Your Future South California Home?
What are your thoughts on the Six Californias plan? Kooky or clever? Let us know where you stand in the comments section below.
* All median home prices are sourced from California Association of Realtors, June 2014.