As insanely boring — and incomprehensible to the average voter — as the redistricting of Los Angeles may be, it's kind of a big deal.
We understand the apathy. In a city where only a little over 10 percent of eligible voters turn out for municipal elections at all, they can hardly be expected to care about the intricacies of their voting districts, right?
But not to fear! Those small pockets of L.A. that do give a damn about the L.A. Redistricting Commission's politically warped new maps are furious enough to make up for the rest of us, and then some. Here are the five maddest, or at least loudest (with new and old maps at bottom for reference):
5. Inhabitants of the Silver Lake-to-San Fernando landing strip.
Thanks to an incredible feat of gerrymandering, City Council District 4 now looks like a mega-seahorse on steroids — stretching all the way from the hip Eastside through the mansioned Hollywood Hills to the deep end of the Valley. Some baffled quotes from residents and local leaders in the Los Angeles Times:
“The movie stars with their little poodles sashaying down the street. They have nothing in common with people here.” — Lake Balboa florist Carmen Gabriel
“It's insane. Might as well put Chicago in our district. We have nothing to do with the flats in the Valley.” — Benedict Canyon resident Nickie Miner
“Ugh, the Valley. … It's crazy different. Silver Lake feels more hippie, down to earth.” — Silver Lake resident Quincy Schwartz
“The only common thread here is the Canadian geese that migrate from the Encino Reservoir to the Silver Lake Reservoir.” — City Councilman Tom LaBonge
4. Latinos. Asians. Gays.
As in the state- and countywide redistricting snafus, minority groups have come out swinging from the beginning of this battle to ensure they receive proper advocacy in L.A. government. Not that it did them any good: The requests of Asians and gays to consolidate their populations into single districts appear to have been swiped clean off the table in the map-drafting process.
“When you neglect the Asian community, when you talk about every other ethnic group and yet you forget a population that is 15 percent of this community, it's hurtful,” said Grace Yoo, executive director of the Korean American Coalition, at a January 25 hearing. “We are going to continue to bring our people out, and don't think that we're going to be as kind in the process. We're playing not with just moving parts here, but you're really moving people's lives.”
Latinos are a little less peeved — seeing as they've still got several solid seats on the council — but redistricting obsessionados have called the Weekly to tell us that Councilman Eric Garcetti's new District 13, as drawn by the commission, could be subject to a Voting Rights Act lawsuit for not leaning more Latino.
Gay activists, for their part, are still grasping for “a specific LGBT district comprised of the gayborhood clusters outside West Hollywood, then east to Silver Lake and over the hill to Studio City” — though that's probably the longest longshot of the bunch.
3. Everyone west of Wesson.
So get this: The entire community of Westchester has been carved out of Councilman Bill Rosendahl's idyllic Westside and connected by an absurd, blockwide thread to Councilman Bernard Parks' black district to the east.
All this, so that brand-new City Council President Herb Wesson — who's shaping up to be quite a bully at the head of the table — can take what he wants of Parks' beloved Leimert Park and Baldwin Hills, and still snatch most of Koreatown to the north. (A community that happens to want absolutely nothing to do with him.)
Recap: Everyone loses besides the City Council president. Muahahaha.
2. The Foothill communities.
Estranged valleyfolk have battled for decades with downtown politicians over the neglect and misrepresentation they feel from City Hall. And the Foothill communities in particular — forming a tight-knit northeast rim along the greater basin — are some of the most dedicated activists in Los Angeles. They've been so long abandoned by their elected officials that they've joined civilian forces to keep the gangs off their streets and the L.A. life breezy.
And we've gotta admit — they're doing a much better job of it than any council member we can think of.
So imagine the hunter-gatherers' horror to learn that City Hall conquistadors want to tear their district in two, leaving half of them in the hands of the slimiest pol on the City Council: Richard Alarcon, recently charged with felony voter fraud. (And the councilman's appointee to the redistricting huddle, the notorious Michael Trujillo, brings with him another whole suitcase of skeletons.)
Writes Valley advocate and former L.A. Daily News editor Ron Kaye:
On Saturday, about 50 residents of the Foothill communities — Sunland-Tujunga, Shadow Hills, Lake View Terrace, La Tuna Canyon, and Sun Valley — held an emergency meeting to plan how to fight being pulled from CD 2 (Krekorian) and divided up into CD 6 and CD 7 (Cardenas and Alarcon).
They'll meet again tonight. Meanwhile, Alarcon is flashing a big toothy grin and leaning in for a bear hug:
“While I would be very sorry to no longer represent parts of these communities, I welcome the opportunity to work with people in Sunland-Tujunga if that is how the final lines are drawn. I am very familiar with the Sunland-Tujunga area, having grown up next door in Sun Valley and having heard stories from my father about how he would swim at the Sunland Park 'Plunge' as a boy. My father's upholstery business also had a lot of clients in the Sunland-Tujunga community, including former Council member Howard Finn and his wife, Anne. Sunland-Tujunga's unique geographic setting creates a distinct community with true community spirit that I admire.”
The gleeful Alarcon-haters (and most other things-haters) over at Mayor Sam confirm that Sunland-Tujunga is not returning the love, and kind of flipping out in general. As it should be.
1. Jan Perry and her downtown real-estate posse.
The rest of the city might be mad, but Jan Perry and her many bedfellow developers are money mad. That's because next-door Councilman Jose Huizar apparently got his appointee on the commission to grab him the shining jewel of Los Angeles: Perry's ever-Manhattanizing downtown.
Huizar, who will no doubt stoop just as skeezy to the real-estate campaign machine if he gets a hold of Perry's assets, is predictably quite pleased with the new layout. Via City Watch:
He explained that it concerns him when people refer to Downtown as the “economic engine” for South L.A., because Downtown could be a valuable resource for many of its neighboring communities; Pico Union, Lincoln Heights and Boyle Heights to name a few.
“If I'm working on creation of jobs in Downtown and economic activity, I'm not doing that to only benefit the rest of my council district, I'm doing that to benefit all council districts,” said Huizar.
Ha! Perry sees that pile of BS and matches it with a leaning stinktower of her own: “If you split downtown L.A. and South L.A., you condemn South L.A. to a form of economic apartheid.” As if Perry didn't condemn it to that long ago.
Here, a map of the proposed districts, followed by their current configuration: