Having worked with Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl since the first day of his campaign in 2005, District 11 candidate Mike Bonin says the Westside has the "highest level" of community and neighborhood participation on any issue.
"I think it's the most active, informed and engaged district in the city," he told Patch. "That makes the nature of the Los Angeles City Council different here than in other districts, because you have tremendous partners here in every community."
Bonin said Mar Vista resident Chuck Ray knows more about the Department of Water and Power rates than the DWP director, and Pacific Palisades resident Chris Spitz knows more about cell phone tower regulations than probably anyone in the city. Bonin added that many reliable leaders of the entertainment industry reside in Brentwood.
One of the major challenges in downtown L.A. is overcoming the occasional perception that since District 11 is a wealthy district, it doesn't need anything, he noted.
"There's a constantly struggle to correct that misconception," Bonin said, adding that, if elected, he wants to get more police and fire department services for District 11, particularly in the northern portion.
"When we lost an engine company at Station 69, that is a huge issue for me," Bonin said. "The fact that 911 response times are so slow in Pacific Palisades and Brentwood, particularly on those winding canyon roads, is a huge problem."
Prior to working with Rosendahl, Bonin said he's been a community leader and grassroots activist with a track record of fighting for Westside neighborhoods for nearly two decades.
"To deliver for our neighborhoods, you need to know how government works," he said.
What Bonin learned from Rosendahl
"Bill Rosendahl has a bigger heart, a stronger sense of optimism and a more boundless positive spirit than anyone I've ever met," Bonin said. "I've learned from him how you can create change, and move our neigbrohoods in a positive direction."
Bonin said as Rosendahl's chief of staff you have to "be a traffic cop," when having to deny spending money and resources on an tough initiative.
"Bill always forced the 'yes,'" Bonin added.
If elected, Bonin said he will expand on Rosendahl's transparent approach with his constituents by holding office hours twice a month at different locations, and consider nights and weekends for those who have tough schedules. He's also considering hosting "communty chats," if elected, and wants to use technology more to keep residents more connected to government
"I want to take his level of transparency an accessibility and put it on steroids," Bonin said. "It doesn’t make sense to me to talk to nieces and nephews on east coast very easily on Skype or something else, but if someone needs to testify at a planning hearing, they need to take day off work, fight traffic and sit on bench downtown."
When asked if his campaign has an advantage since he's so closely connected with Rosendahl, Bonin said that his experience working in the city for 17 years adds to not just what he learned becoming chief of staff with the city councilman.
"I think we all run the experiences we have and the vision we express," Bonin said. "And having worked to get stuff for neighborhoods for the past 17 years, that gives me a lot of experience, a lot of know-how and, I think, a lot of vision to make our neigborhoods stronger and make our city better."
Bonin said he's worked to get more cops for Westside neighborhoods, build new playgrounds and skate parks, help clean up the local environment, help cut taxes to keep good jobs here in the district, work with communities and agencies to synchronize traffic signals and start building the Expo line.
If elected, Bonin said he would take on the same committee assignments at city hall as Rosendahl, and would like to be appointed by Los Angeles' next mayor for the Metro Board of Directors.
Key transportation subjects
- Bonin said by 2015 the Expo line will be extended all the way to the Westside, and he's currently on the construction authority overseeing that. He added that, since it's being projected the Expo will carry more people than the I-10 Freeway, Metro, Santa Monica Big Blue Bus and Culver City Bus become more coordinated and integrated with the Expo Line.
- Additionally, Bonin said in the next five years he'd like to get the Green Line to LAX, and, sadly, since it's probably a generation away, he added he'd like to see a north-south transit line from San Fernando Valley to LAX.
- Bonin said he'd like to see a trolly and shuttle system, at least from the top of Lincoln Boulevard, take some pressure off gridlock, and would like to see LAX create some flyaway shuttles for Venice and Santa Monica.
- With Rosendahl's success on promoting bicycling in the city, Bonin said he will look to continue building out the bicycling network with more lanes.
- Bonin wants to alleviate the issues of traffic on Sunset Boulevard near the 405 Freeway project in Brentwood, such as red light cameras to prevent vehicles from blocking intersections, additional traffic control officers, addressing streets used as cut-through traffic and other calming measures.
Thoughts on LAX's future
Prior to Tuesday's decision by the Airport Commission to move a runway 260 feet north closer to Westchester and Playa del Rey homes, Bonin said he supported alteratives 2 and 9, regarding the reconfiguration of the airfield and ground transportation system, respectively. He said he's worked on this issue since the late 1990s with former City Councilwoman Ruth Galanter, Congresswoman Jane Harman and Councilman Rosendahl.
"I share Bill's mantra of 'modernization yes, expansion no,'" Bonin added.
Findings by NASA Ames showed there was no compelling reason to move the runway north and that, to make it safer, add more runway status lights and add better federal government staffing to the air traffic control tower.
Homeless in Venice
Rosendahl and Bonin tout a strong track record to working with those less fortunate and responding to that population in Venice. Bonin cited the Project Assisting The Homeless agreement has helped considerably.
He said Rosendahl apologized for the process used to get the storage locker near Venice Beach so people unhoused are able to store their belongings before heading north at night to the shelter.
"There can be very strong and loud voices on either end of a spectrum," Bonin said, highlighting the issue of Los Angeles' homelessness at the city council. "On most local decisions, most people reside in the reasonable middle. It’s important to do the hard work for listening for some of the quieter voices to realize where the reasonable middle is, and to work with people who are genuine."
To view more about Bonin's campaign and stance on city issues, view his website.
Related:Frederick Sutton Enters Council District 11 Race
L.A. Streetsblog profiled all four CD11 candidates this week during the "Liveable Streets" candidate forum. Click here and scroll to the Jan. 23 entries.