Candidate’s Corner: Mike Bonin Opens Up for Local Primaries

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Los Angeles County local primary elections will take place on Tuesday, March 7th. On the Westside, Venice locals Robin Rudisill and Mark Ryavec will challenge incumbent  Councilmember Mike Bonin. Yo! Venice asked a number of questions to all three candidates. Here is Councilmember Mike Bonin’s unedited response…

What are your top 3 priorities for CD 11? 

My agenda is to get things done for our neighborhoods and my top three priorities – district-wide and in Venice – are:

1.    Ending homelessness – Getting people off the streets, into homes and out of encampments in our neighborhoods by implementing the City and County Comprehensive Homelessness Strategy, providing housing and services, and utilizing a broad menu of programs and approaches, including permanent supportive housing, rapid rehousing, shared housing, and family reunification.

2.    Reducing Traffic – We can reduce traffic by: a) building mass transit, including all of the voter-approved projects in Measure M; b) creating alternatives to single occupancy vehicle, including trains, buses, neighborhood shuttles, car share, cycling and walking; c) implementing a state law that will allow the city to use green house gas emissions and vehicle miles traveled as a metric in evaluating developments and traffic mitigations.

3.    Delivering Core Services for Our Neighborhoods – During my first four years in office, we have increased money for street resurfacing, tree trimming, parks, libraries, traffic control officers and firefighters. I want to continue to build on that progress, providing more vital services to our neighborhoods, and adding more patrol cops to our neighborhoods to enhance public safety and reduce crime.

Homelessness is a big issue in Venice. How do you plan to deal with it?

Homelessness is one of the biggest and most divisive issues facing Venice – but most everyone share the same goal: to end homelessness and end the encampments that are prevalent in so many Los Angeles neighborhoods. Almost no one wants anyone to be homeless, or to be living on a sidewalk in front of our homes, our businesses or our children’s schools.

For too long, Venice and other communities have suffered from two things:  a lack of a coordinated county/city strategy, and an ill-advised approach that focused on using LAPD enforcement as a response to homelessness. (That strategy backfired, resulting in court orders that created our encampments.)

Coordinated Strategy – Since taking office, I have been one of a handful of elected officials who have insisted on an urgent and coordinated response to homelessness. Along with Mayor Eric Garcetti, my colleague Marqueece Harris-Dawson, and County Supervisors Kuehl and Ridley-Thomas, I am an architect of a multi-faceted strategy that seeks to both prevent and end homelessness.  The strategy includes multiple solutions to a multi-faceted problem.  Voters have funded a huge part of it with Proposition HHH last November.  It will work – if we refuse to let it sit on the shelf, take action, and actually implement it.  I have been trying to implement the strategy in a number of ways:

•    Funding quick and nimble solutions to homelessness, like the Homeless Task Force run by Steve & Regina Weller.

•    Promoting shared housing

•    Securing millions of dollars for “rapid rehousing” vouchers

•    Campaigned for HHH, winning $1.3 billion for permanent supportive housing.

•    Opened three buildings in Del Rey that house people who were homeless

•    Campaigned hard for the successful effort to convince the federal government to build nearly 2,000 units of homeless housing in Brentwood

•    Proposed homeless housing on city-owned properties Venice and West LA.

•    Brought Lava Mae, a free mobile shower program, to Los Angeles

•    Proposed a Safe Parking program to provide resources and housing for people who live in their vehicles.

We need a wide-range of housing and services being provided throughout the City and County of Los Angeles, with specific resources and housing targeted for homeless families, homeless women, homeless seniors, homeless veterans, homeless youth, the recently unemployed or evicted, survivors of domestic violence, and people suffering from mental illness or addiction. We require a wide range of services throughout the entire region to address the crisis of homelessness, permanently house people, and prevent people from living on our streets and sidewalks.

The Right Approach – Venice has suffered for too long from City policies (advocated by my opponent, the anti-homeless activist Mark Ryavec) that the federal government and the courts have slammed, repeatedly. A decade ago, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals called the city policies that one of my opponents has advocated as “cruel and unusual punishment” and said we cannot prevent encampments until we provide sufficient housing and shelter.

The courts have repeatedly made clear that the City cannot enforce its way out of homelessness; it needs to house its way out of homelessness. Calling LAPD is a response to crime – not to homelessness. The Ryavec approach of refusing to provide services, objecting to housing, and insisting on a law enforcement solution is the direct cause of the encampments on our streets.  If someone actually wanted to make the problem and worse and last longer, they’d double down on the Ryavec approach.

We can certainly use more LAPD resources to combat crime in Venice. LAPD can and should: enforce laws to keep sidewalks passable and accessible; cite or arrest people for disturbing the peace, harassing people, dealing illegal drugs, or trespassing. LAPD should aggressively pursue and arrest perpetrators of both property crime and violent crime. And LAPD should enforce those laws equally and in a non-discriminatory manner, regardless of neighborhood, and regardless of the age, race, gender, social status or housing status of the perpetrators.

Our biggest obstacle to proper enforcement by LAPD of crime and quality of life issues is the LAPD brass does not deploy enough officers for neighborhood patrols.  That is why my colleague Joe Buscaino, a former senior lead officer, and I have proposed a comprehensive plan to redeploy officers into our neighborhoods.

As demand for high-end property in Venice continues, what needs to be done to protect affordable housing in the community and also, how can those being displaced be better helped?

Maintaining affordable housing is crucial to preserving the unique spirit of Venice, and I have worked throughout my first term to improve how we protect affordable housing units in our neighborhood. I will continue to do so in a second term.

In recent years, it has become clear that the City of Los Angeles has not been properly enforcing the Mello Act, a state law that protects affordable housing in the Coastal Zone. I directed the Housing Department and City Attorney to fix that – and we are currently working with affordable housing advocates and attorneys to tighten the rules and enforce them better. I am also working with Controller Ron Galperin to improve how the city monitors and verifies that people living in affordable units are indeed qualified to pay below-market rent.

I have also successfully persuaded the state legislature to close a loophole in its so-called “density bonus” law that was causing a reduction in affordable units in Venice and other neighborhoods.  I have also crafted legislation that would prevent speculators from purchasing large apartment buildings, evicting people, and turning them into high-end short-term rentals.

We also need to build more affordable housing.  Accordingly, I have also called for a “linkage fee” on developers to raise money for our Affordable Housing Trust Fund, which can be used to build more affordable housing.

And I have proposed using city-owned properties (in Venice, throughout my district, and throughout the entire city) for affordable housing.

Getting more cops on the streets has become an important election issue. What is the best way to allocate our LAPD resources? How much would this cost and where would the city find the money?

We need more cops patrolling our neighborhoods – and I have a plan to get them.The solution does not require more cops on the payroll; it requires more cops on the beat.

A constant refrain from residents of Los Angeles is that they rarely see a patrol car in their neighborhood, or that it takes LAPD too long to respond to an emergency call, or that they can’t get through to the department on the non-emergency number.

In neighborhoods throughout our city, the deployment of patrol officers is bare-bones — sometimes as few as two or three radio cars for an entire division — with officers overwhelmed, overworked, and significantly outnumbered. This is unacceptable and it is time to take big steps to address this problem. That’s why after months of research and work with neighbors and law enforcement experts, I recently proposed a specific and detailed 10-point plan known as “Back to Basic Car”, which seeks to rebuild and bolster the LAPD’s primary patrol function and community policing delivery mechanism — the Basic Car Plan. The 10-point plan is:

Reinvigorate Patrol

– currently undervalued, underprioritized and understaffed – provide increased promotional paths and incentives for officers assigned to this core function.

Establish Minimum Patrol Staffing Levels

– revisit the LAPD’s “Patrol Plan” deployment formula and set a more realistic Citywide minimum staffing level to meet daily workload demands and improve response times.

Decentralize Personnel

– redeploy sworn officers from headquarters, administrative assignments, less-essential specialized units and details back to our neighborhoods.

Establish “Constant Staffing” Overtime

– similar to the Fire Department, utilize an overtime system or staffing pool to fill all temporarily vacant basic car positions, ensuring that no neighborhood is left without a patrol car when an officer is unable to report to work.

Add Basic Car Districts and Senior Lead Officers

– initiate an “Impact Study” to re-boundary  basic car districts to create smaller patrol areas that better conform to identifiable neighborhood  boundaries, with the goal of tailoring police services to better meet the needs of individual neighborhoods.

Add Redundant Radio Cars

– the original Basic Car Plan deployed an additional radio car within each basic car district for redundancy and ensured that officers were not pulled out of their  primary area of responsibility, unless absolutely necessary.

Improve Operational Flexibility

– no uniformed officer on the streets should be exempt from responding to urgent radio calls and backing up fellow officers simply due to their unique mission or area of specialty (i.e. Metro Division Officers).

Develop Geographic Coverage Protocols

– similar to the Fire Department, during unusual incident activity, heavy call-load, or significant personnel shortages, systematically and  proactively move-up resources from outside divisions to balance Citywide geographic patrol coverage and maintain adequate response times in voided areas.

Enhance Community Policing

– restore the Basic Car as the primary community and proactive  policing delivery mechanism, with sufficient divisional deployment levels to enable officers to walk beats and directly interact with the neighborhoods they serve.

Improve Non-Emergency Responsiveness

– assign redeployed sworn personnel to radio cars specifically designated to respond to lower-level calls for service.

By contrast, my opponent, Mr. Ryavec, has a plan to ask LAPD to count emails.

You can read the full plan on my website, as well as a “White Paper” that shows some startling statistics: during the past 50 years, the LAPD has grown by 30%, and the city’s population has grown by 25%, but the number of officers patrolling our streets has actually decreased. It is shocking and unacceptable – and we need to fix it.

Measure S. Yes or No? And why?

I think Measure S does a very good job diagnosing the problem of a broken planning system, but does a less than satisfactory job of treating the problem.

I support parts of Measure S – requiring the City to update and adhere to its community plans, and preventing developers from picking the consultants who perform environmental analysis, but I do not support the moratorium the Measure calls for. In the middle of an affordable housing crisis, it would impede our ability to build housing. Just as the county, the city, and voters (who approved Proposition HHH by enormous margins) are investing in solutions, it would halt progress on many of the city’s homeless initiatives. The moratorium would mean encampments on our streets will continue, providing no relief for our neighborhoods or for people who are homeless.

I am also gravely concerned that Measure S would have terrible unintended consequences, especially for Venice. By curbing zone changes, Measure S will drive developer investments into the types of “by right” projects Venetians take issue with most and the city has no discretion over – small lot subdivisions, the tear-down of smaller bungalows, and projects using the state “density bonus” law.

Accordingly, I will vote against Measure S and continue my aggressive campaign for development reform and campaign finance reform. In my first term, I have:

•    Co-authored legislation to require the city to regularly update community plans – and stick with them, ending “spot zoning” and a culture of speculation.

•    Co-authored legislation to take preparation of environmental documents out of the hands of developers and into the hands of city-approved, unbiased experts.

•    Led the fight to create an enforcement unit in the Planning Department, so neighborhood protections and requirements for open space and affordable housing can be enforced.

•    Proposed a online “Development Conditions Database” so neighbors can more easily hold developers accountable for the promises they make to communities

•    Initiated strengthening the Mello Act, which protects and preserves affordable housing in the coastal zone.

•    Successfully persuaded the state to reform its frequently abused “density bonus” rules, which were reducing affordable housing and harming neighborhoods.

•    Supported new rules to increase fees on developers to fund more parks and open space.

•    Proposed and am fighting for “Clean Money” campaign finance reform, which will take developer and special interest money out of politics.

My development and campaign finance reform agenda is in contrast to one of my opponents, a former lobbyist who worked for Donald Trump, fighting to build the tallest building in Los Angeles, lobbied for a landfill expansion against neighborhood wishes, and publicly condemned efforts by neighborhoods and elected officials to downsize development projects.

Measure H. Yes or No? And why?

Yes!

Last November, voters throughout Los Angeles approved Proposition HHH by overwhelming margins – even as people like one of my opponents campaigned against the proven solution to homelessness. Proposition HHH will provide permanent supportive housing for people living on the street, and as it does, Measure H will provide funding for the services provided to the people living in that housing. Measure H will help get people off the street, and stop them from ending up homeless in the first place. Last year, the City and County approved complimentary and comprehensive strategies to end homelessness. I strongly urge people who want to end homelessness on our streets to support Measure H.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I am proud of the things we have gotten done for Venice in the last few years, and I am eager to have an opportunity to continue working to make Venice a great place to live, work and enjoy. Some of the things we have accomplished include:

•    Fighting for funding to hire a Superintendent at Venice Beach – adding coordination and oversight to the popular tourist destination, business district and neighborhood

•    Funding and personally helped upgrade the foot bridges over the Venice Canals to refurbish the bridges and handrails

•    Adding new parking lots along Irving Tabor Court and Electric Avenue to provide parking for local businesses

•    Resurfacing Venice handball courts

•    Adding new bike racks, signs and bollards to stop people from accidentally driving on Ocean Front Walk

•    Fighting to keep the Latino Resource Organization in the Vera Davis Center and got funding allocated in the budget to preserve programs at the Vera Davis Center

•    Working with neighbors and the LAPD to help find the people responsible for defacing the Vietnam Veterans MIA/POW memorial wall, and to restore the cherished mural

•    Working with local business owners to start the Venice Business Improvement District, which will help keep the area safe and clean

•    Getting a series of high-tech security cameras added to Venice Beach area, giving the LAPD an important tool to fight crime at Venice Beach

•    Working with small businesses owners to formally establish the Washington Square Business Improvement Group

•    Adding a bike lane to Rose Avenue

•    Working with the City of Santa Monica to place Breeze Bike Share stations in Venice, so locals and tourists could use the convenient bike share service

•    Partnering with the Venice Chamber of Commerce to host community celebrations and “Venice Sign Lightings” for LGBT Pride, the Day of the Doors, the Los Angeles Rams and the Holidays

•    Getting funding allocated to improve and beautify Venice Centennial Park

•    Supporting Venice Art Walk with a grant to keep the beloved community celebration of art alive

•    Helping accelerate a landscaping project at the DWP facility at Lincoln and Broadway to get drought-tolerant landscaping installed

•    Installing a flashing-beacon crosswalk across Abbot Kinney Boulevard to keep kids crossing the street on the way to Westminster Elementary School safe

•    Funding weekly Bureau of Sanitation cleanups on Ocean Front Walk, Third Avenue and Westminster Avenue

•    Working with the Venice Farmers Market to get EBT Functionality so the Farmers Market could serve people at different income levels

•    Focusing the Clean Streets program on the Couer d’Alene area to clean up general debris and alley weeds

•    Upgrading Muscle Beach with new equipment and resurfacing

•    Creating 30 new night time parking spots on Venice Boulevard near the beach

•    Starting the process establishing an “Enhanced Infrastructure Financing District” for Venice, allowing tax money created in Venice to be dedicated toward improvements in Venice

•    Working with Mayor Garcetti to break ground on a water reclamation project at Penmar Park that will save water and prevent pollution from reaching Santa Monica Bay

•    Funding the upgrade of street lights on Ocean Front Walk to brighter and more energy-efficient LED lights

•    Hosting a series of free movie nights at Oakwood Recreation Center, offering fun, family-friendly opportunities for neighbors to gather

•    Co-sponsoring the Venice Community Health Fair with Assemblywoman Autumn Burke

•    Protecting affordable housing by authoring legislation that forces the city to draft and adopt a permanent Mello Act ordinance

•    Working with the Planning Department to clarify that the Venice Specific Plan development standards supercede the small lot subdivision ordinance, protecting community character in Venice

•    Starting a program to add artwork to utility boxes throughout Venice, adding color and art to the neighborhood

•    Increasing the number of police officers patrolling the beach area on bike and horseback

•    Restoring the Street Services clean-up of walk streets

•    Hiring Chrysalis to augment cleaning of Venice Beach restroom facilities

•    Launching the process to adopt a “Venice Local Coastal Plan” to protect the area from overdevelopment and make the permitting process simpler

•    Stopping the 522 Venice project and won a landmark case demonstrating the primacy of the Coastal Act in local decisions

•    Standing with the community to kill the unpopular 1414 Main Street project

•    Working with state legislators to amend SB1818, the state’s “density bonus law,” to close a loophole so that developers could not get density bonuses while reducing affordable housing

•    Launching Operation Street Lift along Washington Boulevard, coordinating street repaving with other important neighborhood repairs to minimize impact on local businesses

•    Founding and facilitated Venice Forward – a multi-agency collaborative focused on ending homelessness in Venice

•    Bringing Lava Mae to Venice, offering the homeless a place to shower and use the restroom

•    Working with Supervisor Sheila Kuehl to found a County-City-Community (C3) partnership for Venice, which brings outreach workers and health professionals to the area to help homeless people connect to housing and resources

•    Adding more LAPD HOPE teams to Pacific Division to offer additional resources to conduct outreach to the homeless

•    Helping fund the homeless outreach work of LAPD Chaplains Steve and Regina Weller

•    Working with People Assisting the Homeless (PATH) to conduct outreach services in Venice

Mike Bonin Election