I left California 9 years ago. But the state is keeping my business hostage in bureaucracy hell

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Editor’s note: The following essay first appeared in City Journal

I was born in Sacramento in the 1980s. On long car trips to visit relatives in Palm Desert, my family would sometimes stop to see the tar pits in Los Angeles known as La Brea. I remember silently taking in the re-creations of prehistoric mammals—mammoths, wolves, bison, lions, saber-toothed cats—trapped in the bubbling Gilsonite muck, with no hope of escape.

Recently, I have had the same feeling: stuck, suffocated, and suspended in time. My predicament is not caused by the natural world, however, but by the deliberate human morass of California’s state government.

Nine years ago, I left my native state and moved to the Pacific Northwest, but I’ve not been able to shake off my entanglement with the bureaucracy in Sacramento. At the time, I was running a nonprofit film studio, Documentary Foundation, and sought to redomicile the corporation to Washington State. But my lawyer gave me bad news: nonprofit corporations cannot easily leave the Golden State. He recommended maintaining the California corporation and opening a related corporate entity in Washington.


For seven

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