April 16, 2024 The Best Source of News, Culture, Lifestyle for Culver City, Mar Vista, Del Rey, Palms and West Los Angeles

L.A. Councilman Mike Bonin reflects on his first year in office

Mike Bonin (center) at the recent rededication of the refurbished tennis courts at Barrington Recreation Center.
Mike Bonin (center) at the recent rededication of the refurbished tennis courts at Barrington Recreation Center.

Q: Mike, it feels like something new is happening at City Hall, a new spirit of sorts. What is it, exactly?

A: There is definitely a new energy and a new spirit. There is palpable sense of commitment to move Los Angeles forward, do good, and get things done. There’s an understanding that we must use technology to make the City more efficient, transparent and effective. And there’s a powerful sense that we need to protect, cherish and enhance our neighborhoods. My mantra has been “putting neighborhoods first” – and that means delivering services, which is why I roll up my sleeves, get my hands dirty, and join city crews to fill potholes, clean storm drains, and install stop signs.  That’s why I hold open office hours at farmers markets and coffee shops, so I can be accessible and move City Hall closer to our neighborhoods.  A lot of my colleagues have the same commitment, and we share a sort of friendly competitiveness than inspires each of us to do more.

Q: Brag a little, if you would. What accomplishments are you most proud of in your first year in office?

A: There is so much work yet to be done, I don’t spend a lot of time looking back, but I’m happy with what my staff and I have accomplished so far. My team and I, with lots of great community partners, have moved forward on a bunch of common sense stuff, both big and small: repealing a policy allowing the issuance of parking tickets at broken meters; launching a pilot program to equip our firefighters with smart technology, like iPads, to help them better protect lives and property; pushing a moratorium on the dangerous practice of fracking; and finally (!) approving a Metro connection to LAX.

More locally, we’ve started moving on some sensible traffic fixes, like allowing a “right on red” from Church Lane to Sunset. We’ve started a bunch of renovations and improvements at Barrington Park, we’re helping resolve a dispute over use of Brentwood Green, and we won approval and funding for a left turn signal at Sunset and Kenter. There’s a lot more to do, and a lot more to come.

I’m probably most happy about my “Access 11” program, which helps me get out of the City Hall bubble and into our neighborhoods.  I hold open office at community venues, like the Farmers Markets, or hold key meetings at local spots, like the Brentwood Country Mart. I’ve led a few “Hikes with Mike,” so that constituents and I can meet and chat while enjoying the incredible Santa Monica Mountains. And I periodically surprise folks by going door-to-door to hear what is on their minds, and ask how the City can help.

I’m also very happy that Mayor Garcetti, with whom I work very closely, appointed me to the Metro Board, overseeing regional transportation. I am also Chair of the council’s Transportation Committee, vice Chair of the authority building the Expo Line, and I have LAX in my district, so I really get to focus on transportation issues.

Mike Bonin and Jennifer Klausner of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition at a recent event.
Mike Bonin and Jennifer Klausner of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition at a recent event.

Q: What progress can we look forward to on the Westside in coming years?  What frustrations will remain? Will things be better or worse ten years from now?

A: Let’s not kid each other. The biggest issue and biggest frustration for Westsiders is traffic, and fixing that problem is an enormous challenge. There is no silver bullet, and we need to do many things, big and small, to make an impact. We need to think differently about development, shaping neighborhoods where people can live, work, shop and play in close proximity so we aren’t wedded to crisscrossing the region by car. We have to build different forms of transit. We’ll be opening the Expo Line within two years, and integrating more buses and shuttles into the transit system. We’re also starting to make Los Angeles more friendly for cyclists and pedestrians, and we can do even more through traffic calming. And we need to be open to any common sense ideas, like left turn lanes, different signal synchronizations, bus rapid transit, one way streets during peak hours, etc. Our gridlock is life-sucking and intolerable, and we’ll never again be a city where everyone can whiz around whenever they want in a single occupancy vehicle. We need to think differently, plan differently, build differently, and begin to live differently.

Q: Anything else?

A: I represent the smartest and most engaged population imaginable, and I believe the best ideas and the best solutions come from our neighborhoods, so please let me know what you’re thinking! You can find me on the web (11thdistrict.com), on Facebook (www.Facebook.com/MikeBoninCD11), Twitter (@mikebonin), or phone at 310.575.8461.

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