While gazing at the recently proposed boundaries for L.A.'s 15 voting districts — which is clearly what we like to do in our spare time — we realized that the gerrymandered City Council District 13 is the spitting image of an evil squirrel.
And so begins our (badly Photoshopped) series on the L.A. Redistricting Commission's politically warped new districts!
District 13 is manned by City Councilman Eric Garcetti, most infamous among stubborn L.A. citywatchers as the development hound who ruined Hollywood. Garcetti has never met a construction deal he didn't like — and has been so bold as to label his greedy vision “elegant density.”
The new gerrymanders to CD 13 are subtle. Don't be fooled, though: They're perfectly aligned with Garcetti's interests. (He'll be shooting for mayorhood in 2013, but even then, he's got a mini-me successor in mind who'll likely follow by example.)
Compare the district's current boundaries (below, in green) with the 2012 revisions (above).
Notice how the squirrel's right ear grew to about twice its former length?
The ear's new tip isn't made of just any old land. Instead, it's the site of a massive freeway-side housing and business project that's currently in the planning stages. From the L.A. Weekly's skeptical October 2010 update on said “smog magnet”:
The Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Los Angeles has received a $2.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which they plan to put toward a redevelopment of 2,200 acres in the Glendale Narrows portion of the Los Angeles River.
Sounds like a pretty lush scene, right? Not so much. The plot is bordered by the 134 Ventura Freeway, the 110 Pasadena Freeway and a long stretch of I-5 on the Los Angeles River, and it's crisscrossed by the Glendale 2 Freeway.
Though the L.A. CRA has since been disbanded, its successor agency will have to find some way to make good on the federal grant. And city politicians are well aware that the plot will be a magnet for B.S. sustainability developers (powered by the endless, undiscerning funds of Big Green). And, of course, their campaign gifts.
Evil squirrel's shape likewise says heaps about the districts that box him in.
See how his left ear and chin have filled out a bit? That's so City Councilman Jose Huizar (in District 14, to the far right) can grab a bigger chunk of downtown L.A., the city's economic gem, from furious Councilwoman Jan Perry.
And on the southern tip of the bushy tail, Koreatown activists are livid that they've been split between Garcetti's squirrel district and that of City Council President Herb Wesson.
The Korean American Coalition's ideal version of District 13 would include its entire community, plus Historic Filipinotown and Pico-Union, says Director Grace Yoo. (“Because they have similar needs … like affordable housing,” she tells the Weekly.) And miraculously, the coalition's draft comes out looking like a nice little blob — not a gerrymandered freak show resembling highway roadkill.