Real Estate Developer Persuades California Politicians to Consider Seceding

By: Julia Mehalko | Published: Jun 07, 2024

Jeff Burum, a real estate developer, is trying to persuade California politicians — and the California public — to consider pushing for San Bernardino County to become independent from the rest of the state.

Burum’s desire to see San Bernardino County become independent from California comes as certain areas of the Golden State feel left behind by some recent policies.

About Jeff Burum

Burum has been an advocate for San Bernardino’s independence for years now. A real estate developer from Rancho Cucamonga, Burum has been pushing for politicians to allow county locals to decide on seceding from California for a while.

A close-up of a California Republic bear logo on a sidewalk.

Source: Levi Meir Clancy/Unsplash

However, now his persuasion has actually gotten somewhere — and Burum’s dream of seeing San Bernardino become independent could potentially become a reality.


The County Government’s Next Moves

Now, the San Bernardino County government will publish a report that will evaluate this secession plan. In 2022, a proposal to study the possibility of secession was approved by a razor-thin margin.

An American flag next to a California flag in front of a palm tree.

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This evaluation will finally be revealed by June 11. The county government’s report will reveal the financial factors of what a secession from California could look like, as well as whether this idea is even feasible.

Why Burum Has Pushed for This Report

Burum has pushed for the county to release this report — and for secession from California — because he feels that other Californians in the state have long looked down on those who live in the county.

An aerial view of a highway and mountains seen in San Bernardino County in California.

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San Bernardino County is home to 2.2 million people, many of whom come from diverse, working-class communities.

Burum’s Final Straw

While Burum has long theorized about what a secession in his community would look like, he finally began to think seriously about it two years ago. Burum explained that he was upset with how the state government dealt out its budget surplus.

An up-close view of many one hundred dollar bills.

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According to the real estate developer, this budget surplus was “porked out, instead of being invested in our future.”

Liberal vs Conservative

This secessionist movement in San Bernardino comes as California as a whole struggles to work together. Many conservative areas of the state feel angry — and even left behind — by some of the progressive and liberal policies led by Governor Gavin Newsom.

Gavin Newsom smiling outside wearing a suit.

Source: Bureau of Reclamation/Wikimedia Commons

These differences in policy were further exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw Newsom lock down much of the country.


Respect for San Bernardino

While Burum is a Republican, he has explained that his desire to see San Bernardino County secede from California doesn’t have anything to do with a political agenda.

A bird’s eye view of Yucalpa, California seen in front of mountains in the daytime.

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Instead, it only has to do with the rest of the state showing San Bernardino the respect he says the county deserves — respect which he feels the region has never gotten.


Has California Gotten Too Big?

Burum also believes that the entire state has gotten much too big for a state government to accurately run things.

An aerial view of Los Angeles seen at night with many lights on.

Source: Henning Witzel/Unsplash

“People are revolting because they can’t relate to the purpose of government when we were created,” he said. “When the government doesn’t realize it’s become one of the bad actors, it’s time to speak up.”


Many Agree With Burum

When it comes to California’s ineffective governance thanks to its massive size, Burum has many supporters. Glenn Harlan Reynolds, a law professor at the University of Tennessee, wrote a paper in 2019 about why anger and dissatisfaction can help fuel succession movements in states.

People on a beach in California seen in the daytime.

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“The states used to be there to provide a degree of localism and small-scale governance that they’re no longer able to provide,” Reynolds explained. “California is probably the worst case of that, because it is so big and the government is pretty centralized.”


Why San Bernardino Residents Want Secession

Burum isn’t alone in his desire to see San Bernardino County secede from California. Many local residents have become supporters of this idea, for ample reasons.

A view of green hills and mountains seen in San Bernardino County in California.

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For the most part, locals in the county feel that old California values of chasing the American Dream have gone away. So much of the country has become too expensive, and this working-class community has suffered as a result.


The History of California Secession Ideas

California actually has a long history of areas of the state considering secession. According to the California State Library, more than 220 attempts of secession have occurred in the state in almost 174 years.

Downtown Los Angeles seen in the distance behind palm trees during sunset.

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Often, these secession movements have occurred as many rural areas of the state feel that their voice and vote aren’t as prominent as those who live in the cities, particularly Los Angeles. Many Californians have also brought up the idea of the entire state seceding from the United States.


An Upcoming Battle?

Even if this latest San Bernardino report reveals that secession is feasible — and even if voters overwhelmingly vote to secede — an actual secession would be incredibly difficult to pull off.

A California flag on a pole next to an American flag.

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This is because both the California Legislature and Congress would have to approve this secession. This remains highly unlikely.