Central Coast residents who are part of an effort to create a "New California" met Wednesday night in Atascadero. They say rural residents deserve a separate state to call their own.
The idea is separating the rural counties from urban counties in California, giving rural communities more representation.
"We could divide the states on borders that we would propose. We looked at all the counties, we said, ‘Where’s urban, where’s rural?’ The maps out there right now are representations of counties we have on board," said co-founder Pal Preston.
Upset with the direction state lawmakers were going, Dane Senser was ready to pack up and move.
"I had enough. It was getting overwhelming with the car tax, gas tax, and straw laws. I decided that I’m going to move to Las Vegas for a lower cost of living and lower cost of apartments. I couldn’t afford it here, I’m on a low budget," said Senser.
When Senser heard about New California, he stayed.
"Why do I have to leave this beautiful state, this beautiful coastal area? It’s not right. Change some of the laws, let up some of the freedoms, give the people in the rural areas representation ’cause we have none. All the representation happens in the big cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco," Senser said. He is now the chairman for the San Luis Obispo County committee for New California.
The New California group took an early step toward statehood in January, reading their own Declaration of Independence.
"When you want to form a state, you have to follow the constitution. The Founding Fathers laid all the directions out for us. That’s what we’re doing," said Senser.
The aspiring 51st state hopes to model the split after the state of West Virginia.
"If you want to form a new state, you have to get permission from the state you’re in by way of the legislature and also the Congress. It sounds real simple but getting people together to do that is another process," said Senser.
The group has organized committees in 41 counties, including San Luis Obispo County. Members hope to convince California’s legislature to split the state before submitting the resolution to Congress.