In the March 7 primary, Councilmember Mike Bonin won re-election with 70% of the vote. His second term representing District 11, which includes Westchester, Playa del Rey and Playa Vista, will start July 1, and the HomeTown News recently reached out to the councilmember to find out what he hopes to accomplish in his next 5 1/2 years representing the community. Below is our Q&A with Councilmember Bonin:
Q. In your second term, what do you think is, or will be, the biggest issue facing the Westchester/Playa area?
A. The biggest task for me and for my staff is going to be making sure that the foundation we’ve laid gets built upon. That means building the projects at LAX, such as the people mover, the Metro rail connection, the Intermodal Transportation Facility, that make it easier for people to get to and from LAX without driving through Westchester and Playa del Rey streets. It also means building the projects envisioned on the Northside–the neighborhood retail, soccer fields, the dog park, the Paseo to the beach [and] the police station.
Public safety and planning reform will also be big items on the agenda. I am going to continue to push my plan to increase neighborhood policing, so we have the personnel to patrol our streets and allow us to feel safe in our homes and parks. I also intend to push for comprehensive development reform. We need to move beyond “spot zoning,” which creates uncertainty and all sorts of battles, and instead update our community plans, plan appropriately for new housing and stick to those plans.
Q. In your 2017 Neighborhood Issue Survey, you asked, “What are the three most important steps the City should take to improve your neighborhood?” What do you think these three steps are for Westchester/Playa?
A. Improving service delivery. Neighbors should be able to rely on fast, efficient and responsive service delivery, from trash pickup, to street repaving and pothole filling. We need to improve how the city responds to service requests from neighbors.
LAPD redeployment. We need to take a very serious look at how we allocate LAPD resources, and I would like to see less cops assigned to desks and special units and details and more cops patrolling our neighborhoods, building relationships with neighbors and quickly responding to calls.
Modernize LAX. We need to move forward on the modernization projects at LAX that will make the airport a world-class airport, and, more importantly, a first-class neighbor. The most exciting project on the horizon is the long overdue connection between the airport and Metro rail, which will take cars off neighborhood streets in Westchester and Playa del Rey by giving people the option to take the train to LAX instead of clogging our streets with vehicles.
Q. What initiatives are you most excited about starting working on or completing in your second term?
A. I am very excited to continue the progress we have made to get more cops in our neighborhoods and to get money out of local politics.
I am also eager to see the 340-acres north of LAX transformed into a vibrant and peaceful community center, with a pedestrian and bike paseo that will connect downtown Westchester with Playa del Rey.
Q. What improvements do you think the community will see in regards to traffic, homelessness and LAX in the next few years?
A. Traffic: We will see tremendous benefits in our neighborhoods once the train to the airport is completed and people have the option to take the train instead of driving through Westchester and Playa del Rey.
Homelessness: Now that voters have approved Proposition HHH, which funds permanent supportive housing, and Measure H, which funds services needed to get people off the street, we now have the hard work of actually getting people off the street ahead of us. That is going to require patience and a firm commitment to getting people the help they need to get off the street.
LAX: Thanks to the settlement we agreed to last year, Los Angeles International Airport will continue its progress toward becoming a world-class airport and a first-class neighbor. That means not only modernizing terminals and making the passenger experience comfortable and convenient for travelers, but also taking cars off streets in Westchester and Playa del Rey and transforming the area north of LAX into a great community center, with neighborhood-serving retail and open space for neighbors to enjoy.
Q. What accomplishment in your first term are you most proud of?
A. I am pleased with many of the things I got done for neighborhoods in my first term, but there are a couple really big things that stand out, and they are huge wins for Westchester and Playa del Rey: the settlement ending LAX expansion, and the land use plan for the LAX Northside. Both of those things fundamentally changed the nature of the airport’s relationship with the community and laid a strong foundation for the fulfillment of my desire for LAX–that it become a world class airport and a first class neighbor.
Q. What advice would you give to people that are interested in getting more involved in their community?
A. Find an issue or a cause that you are passionate about and identify a local way to pursue it.
Whether it is youth sports, caring for our seniors, homelessness, the need for more affordable housing, pedestrian safety, the environment, there is a need to be filled, and an individual can make a huge difference.
A great opportunity to get involved is the neighborhood council. The Neighborhood Council of Westchester/Playa is one of the most active and involved neighborhood councils on the Westside, and you can make a difference in your neighborhood by attending the meetings, speaking up, and eventually, running for a position on the neighborhood council yourself. But there are also plenty of other ways to make an impact, through the Rotary, Westchester Vitalization, the Airport Marina Counseling Center, AYSO, LAPD Boosters, organizations supporting our local schools or the Ballona Wetlands.
The best thing to do is define what you are for, pursue it and build around that. A lot of folks engage for the first time to oppose something, and they start from a place of frustration and burn out quickly. Find a way to engage based on your hopes and aspirations, and that will fuel you for the long haul.
Q. What’s a perfect day in the HomeTown News’ area look like to you?
A. A perfect day for me would be playing with my son on the beach in Playa del Rey, meeting with friends for a picnic at Westchester Park and then having dinner and catching a movie at Runway in Playa Vista.
Photo courtesy the councilmember’s office.
Posted May 2017.