Mike Bonin, Running for City Council  photo: Janet Gervers
Tuesday, March 5 is a big election day in Los Angeles with candidates running for Mayor, City Council and other seats plus ballot issues.Venice is in District 11 where Bill Rosendahl, our current Councilman is ending his term and the seat is up for  grabs in the election. The Abbot Kinney First Fridays Blog endorses Mike Bonin for City Council, District 11. See our interview with Mike Bonin:

Venice is a unique neighborhood – name 3 ways you plan on helping/improving our neighborhood if you get elected:

We have a whole lot to do, so I can’t keep it just 3 things!

·       Increase parking for residents and local businesses
·       Implement a ban on chain stores along that threaten neighborhood character
and small businesses on Abbot Kinney

·       Promote the emerging Silicon Beach tech sector
·       Install more bicycle lanes and bicycle parking
·       Return revenue from city-owned parking lots back to Venice for local
community improvements

·       Crack down on illegal billboards and signs of blight
·       Fight noise, pollution and traffic from Santa Monica Airport
·       House the homeless

One of the challenging & controversial topics in Venice is homelessness- what is your approach to the topic?

The most important thing I can do is recognize that we use the term “homelessness” to describe a variety of problems, each of which demands a different solution.   Someone who has lost a job or a home and winds up living on the streets can usually be helped by securing a housing voucher and a place to live – as Bill and I have done with the PATH program, which has housed more than 100 people.  Someone suffering from mental illness who is service-resistant requires a very different approach, like the County has done with its Project 50.  Getting a teenage runaway off the street requires different services and a different approach than housing a veteran.  It is also important that we not tolerate a growing phenomenon in Venice – young drifters, living in their cars and selling cheap trinkets at the beach.  The community should not have to tolerate that type of behavior.   It is also crucial that we find a legal and constitutional way to remove abandoned materials left behind from encampments.  The courts have said we remove materials if we bag, tag, and store possessions for 90 days.  A public-private partnership has done that in downtown LA, and we need to do the same thing in Venice.  To find genuine solutions to the variety of problems we call homelessness, it is important to look at the facts of each problem and craft an appropriate response.  The problems won’t be solved if we insist on responding with ideology and rhetoric.

How will you be differ from the “politics as usual” attitude that pervades City Hall in Los Angeles?

The trick to avoid getting sucked into “politics as usual” is to stay close to our neighborhoods, be accessible, and not bullshit people.    People respect direct and honest answers.

Bill has set a tremendously high bar for accessibility, and I want to match it.  I’ve come up with an “Access 11” plan to use a personal touch and smart technology to get City Hall closer to our neighborhoods.    It includes holding regular office hours in the community, at places like the Cow’s End, leading community hikes, continuing to go door-to-door after the election, and allowing people to use software like Skype to testify at city hearings or participate in meetings.

It’s All About Venice!