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THERE'S hope for the people of Los Angeles: If we petition the federal government to classify us as ``wildlife,'' our local leaders might start to take our concerns seriously.

As little consideration as L.A. politicians seem to give to the quality of life of the citizens who elect them to office and pay their salaries, they're taking special interest in the well-being of coyotes, rattlesnakes and other denizens of the wilds.

The county Department of Regional Planning has issued a Significant Ecological Area report that doubles the amount of natural areas protected from human development.

The idea is to make sure that the animals have a good life - ``a lot of it is concerned with the ability of wildlife to move about,'' as one official put it. Otherwise, the critters would be left cramped together in tight, suffocating spaces. They'd live a life unfit for man or beast - the life of an Angeleno.

The same day the county weighed in on more open spaces for animals, the city's Planning Commission voted unanimously to endorse a proposal that would jam 60,000 more apartments into L.A. by 2025.

The plan would ease land-use controls and offer developers bonuses for finding ways to fit more people into smaller quarters.

The thousands of new residents would bring thousands of cars to the choked roadways and thousands of kids to the overcrowded schools.

So while the western yellow-billed cuckoos will be assured plenty of space to breathe, live and get around, Angelenos will have to huddle together, breathe in more smog and spend their hours parked in freeway traffic.

The flora and fauna get their territories doubled.

Human beings get ``densified.''

While the city is packed ever more tightly, the few relatively untouched outlying areas are ruled off limits for those seeking refuge.

There's a good argument to be made for preserving open spaces in L.A. county, and for ensuring a healthy environment for the indigenous wildlife. But that argument applies to human beings, too. We like ``open spaces'' - or at least not oversaturated spaces - too.

But local planners don't give too much thought to quality-of-life issues for human beings, or at least not the human beings they're paid to serve. If they could, they'd turn L.A. into a massive urban slum ringed with wildlife sanctuaries in the unincorporated areas.

If they were ever to put that vision before the people of L.A., we're pretty confident that the people would vote it down.

The vast majority of L.A. residents struggle to eke out a middle-class existence, despite the obstacles elected officials throw in their way.

If only the politicians valued people as much as they value the birds, snakes and insects.
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Copyright 2001, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Jan 29, 2001

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