Mike Bonin (born March 19, 1967) is an American politician of California and the Los Angeles Councilmember from the 11th District. He was Chief of Staff to Councilmember Bill Rosendahl's staff. Bonin took office on July 1, 2013.
A member of the Democratic Party, Bonin won the March 5 Primary for the Council seat with 62% of the vote. City Council elections and seats are non-partisan. Bonin is considered politically progressive, and he is openly gay.
Born in Clinton, Massachusetts, Bonin is a graduate of Harvard University. He worked as a reporter before entering politics. Bonin worked as deputy chief-of-staff, district director, and legislative deputy for the Office of Ruth Galanter from 1997 to 2003, as deputy chief-of-staff to the office of Congresswoman Jane Harman from 2003 to 2004, and as chief-of-staff for Councilmember Bill Rosendahl from 2005 to 2013.
Bonin graduated from Clinton High School in Clinton, Massachusetts, in 1985. He served as class president during his Junior and Senior years. William P. Constantino, Bonin's grandfather, was a state representative and later presiding judge in Clinton District Court. His uncle, William P. Constantino, Jr., also served as a state representative.
From 1989 to 1996, Bonin worked as a reporter at the Springfield Newspapers in Springfield, Mass., and the Wave Newspapers in Los Angeles, CA.
Bonin's began his political career organizing student and community support for the Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers, which won certification as a union during Bonin's junior year of college. Bonin began working in Los Angeles city politics 1996, joining the staff of Los Angeles City Councilmember Ruth Galanter. During his seven years with Galanter, Bonin held various titles, serving as legislative deputy, district director, and eventually as deputy chief of staff. From 2003 to 2004, Bonin worked in the Office of US Representative Jane Harman. He served as Deputy Chief of Staff and District Director for the Congressional District represented by Harman. In 2005, Bonin managed Los Angeles City Councilmember Bill Rosendahl's successful campaign, and was appointed chief-of-staff. Bonin helped broker a legal settlement that jumpstarted modernization of Los Angeles International Airport while preventing airport expansion into neighboring communities. Bonin also helped more than 100 homeless people find permanent housing. He helped Rosendahl win passage of a Citywide Bicycle Master Plan, and cut taxes for internet-based businesses . After being diagnosed with cancer, Rosendahl chose not to seek a third term and endorsed Bonin to succeed him in the 2013 city election.
Campaign for City Council, 2013
During the summer of 2012, Rosendahl announced he had been diagnosed with cancer. In October, he decided against seeking reelection. Rosendahl immediately endorsed Bonin and referenced his dedication to public service in the endorsement.
Bonin's campaign stressed his long-standing community ties, his track record working for local elected officials, and his plans for the district. He campaigned on a theme of "Putting Neighborhoods First," and promised to "move Los Angeles forward, do good, and get things done."
During the campaign, Bonin received endorsements from the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce the Los Angeles County Democratic Party, and the Los Angeles Times.
Re-election campaign for City Council, 2017
Bonin was re-elected on March 7, 2017, defeating Mark Ryavec and Robin Rudisill. Bonin won District 11 with 71% of the vote.
Bonin launched his "Access 11" program shortly after being sworn-into office in order to "bring City Hall to the Westside." The program features "Open Office Hours," where Bonin meets with constituents at Farmers Markets or other community gatherings, "Neighborhood Service Fairs," where Bonin coordinates City departments to come to Westside communities to demonstrate available services (such as emergency preparedness and water conservation programs), "Hikes With Mike," where Bonin meets with neighbors as they hike in areas around the district, "Neighborhood Coffees," where Bonin hosts small, informal gatherings for neighbors to ask questions about the City and "Neighborhood Canvasses," where Bonin, staff and community volunteers go door-to-door in Westside neighborhoods to ask for ideas and service requests
Stopping illegal pot shops
As a candidate for Council, Bonin advocated in favor of Los Angeles Measure D, which allows regulated medicinal marijuana dispensaries, as long as they are not located in residential neighborhoods or near schools. In the fall of 2014, Bonin partnered with LA City City Attorney Mike Feuer and neighbors in Mar Vista to oppose the relocation of a large marijuana dispensary in the Mar Vista neighborhood, saying the proposed location did not comply with Proposition D. In January 2014, Bonin and Feuer announced that they had successfully stopped the relocation of the controversial dispensary.
Affordable housing and development reform
Calling the lack of affordable housing in Los Angeles "a threat to neighborhood quality of life," Bonin has spearheaded changes to zoning laws that allow developers a "density bonus" and a free pass on development standards. In the spring of 2014, Bonin joined with colleagues at the state and local level on three efforts to amend California's "density bonus" law, also known as SB 1818:
- Bonin co-sponsored legislation this week with Councilmember Paul Krekorian directing the Planning Department to more strictly enforce SB 1818 provisions and require developers to provide economic data proving that including affordable housing requires additional incentives.
- Bonin co-sponsored legislation this week with Councilmember Mitch O'Farrell asking for a report on how much affordable housing has been lost as a result of SB 1818, and what steps the City is taking to monitor affordable housing covenants.
- Working with Councilmember Paul Krekorian and state Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian, Bonin's planning staff helped craft Assembly Bill 2222. Sponsored by Nazarian, AB 2222 amended SB 1818 by restricting the density bonus to only those projects that create a net increase in affordable housing, and count existing rent-controlled units as part of the affordability baseline. AB 2222 was signed into law by California Governor Jerry Brown on September 29, 2014.
Mello Act reform
In February 2015, Bonin authored legislation that directs the City of Los Angeles to develop a permanent ordinance that would protect affordable housing in the Coastal Zone of Los Angeles. Though the City had been subject to the Mello Act - a state law adopted over 30 years ago, that is intended to preserve, replace, and develop low-income and affordable housing in the Coastal Zone - for the past 15 years, the City has been implementing the Act through a set of interim guidelines. Bonin's motion called for a permanent ordinance "in order to get clear, on-the-record answers about how or whether the City has been complying with the guidelines, and to figure out what more the City can do to protect affordable housing in the Coastal Zone, including by requiring rigorous third-party financial analysis of applications covered by the Mello Act."
Bonin worked with colleagues in 2016 and 2017 to reform the planning process in the City of Los Angeles to better protect neighborhoods. Among the legislation Bonin has co-authored and championed are efforts to: require that the local community plans that guide development are updated more regularly, prohibit developers with projects pending before the city from making campaign contributions to elected officials who will vote on the projects; ensure that the city selects impartial consultants to conduct environmental review of a project, instead of allowing a developer to select their own consultant to prepare required reviews.
Legislative and policy accomplishments
Since Bonin's election, he has focused on "putting neighborhoods first" and four specific issue areas: transportation, public safety, the environment and jobs/technology.
Transportation policy and "LAX Connect"
Bonin was appointed Chair of the City Council's Transportation Committee, serves as a member of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board of Directors and is the vice-Chair of Metro's Expo Line Construction Authority. With these key leadership roles, "Bonin is now one of the most important people on transportation policy in the region". Bonin has used these positions to advocate for a light-rail connection between existing rail lines and Los Angeles International Airport and to call for increased investments in multi-modal infrastructure and improved bike and pedestrian safety in neighborhoods.
iPads for firefighters
Bonin proposed equipping Los Angeles City Fire Department first responders with upgraded tablet technology on July 2, 2013. The proposal quickly won the support and praise of the Fire Commission, rank-and-file firefighters and the Los Angeles technology community, and was hailed as a success as the pilot program progressed.
Hotel workers living wage
On February 18, 2014, Bonin and his colleagues Nury Martinez and Curren Price Jr. introduced legislation to establish a living wage of $15.37 per hour for employees at large hotels in Los Angeles. After months of debate, the bill was approved by the Council by a 12-3 vote, setting one of the highest minimum wages in the country.
Citywide minimum wage
In the fall of 2014, Bonin became one of four co-authors on the legislation that would raise the minimum wage in Los Angeles. While supportive of Mayor Garcetti's initial proposal to incrementally increase the minimum wage to $13.25 per hour by 2017, Bonin has also called for extending the proposed increase to reach $15.25 by 2019.
Small business support program
On October 24, 2013, Bonin announced that he had partnered with Santa Monica College and the Small Business Development Center to hire a "Small Business Development Consultant" in his office. The Small Business Development Consultant's primary responsibility is serving as a "small business concierge" to offer expert advice to local business owners and to help them "cut through red tape" at City Hall. The partnership, which provides local entrepreneurs one-on-one business consulting as well as free informational workshops, was the first of its kind in Los Angeles.
Environmental policy accomplishments
Stopping fracking and taking on the oil and gas industry
On September 4, 2013, Bonin and his colleague Paul Koretz introduced the Los Angeles Fracking Moratorium to the City Council. The motion, which instructed the City Attorney to draft an ordinance that would temporarily ban "unconventional oil and gas drilling" techniques like fracking in Los Angeles until they can be proven safe, was unanimously approved by the City Council on February 28, 2014.
Fighting for clean energy
In addition to taking on fossil fuels, Bonin has also focused on proactive ways to create clean energy. Working with colleagues, the Mayor and key stakeholders such as the Sierra Club, Bonin co-authored legislation that would create a research collaborative with the sole mission of charting a smart and achievable path to 100% clean energy in Los Angeles.
Making it safer and easier to walk and bike in LA
Bonin maintains that nearly half of all trips taken in LA are less than three miles, and eighty-seven percent of those trips are taken by car. Bonin understands that we can improve our neighborhoods and protect the environment by making it easier and safer to walk and bike in LA, taking cars off the road and potential pollution out of the air. To Bonin's approval, the City Council approved the Mobility Plan 2035 - a planning document that will create a bike network throughout Los Angeles and will improve how we plan and design our city to better protect bicyclists and pedestrians who opt not to rely on cars for transportation. Bonin has proposed an approved motion to spend 22.8 million dollars on Vision Zero.
Other legislative work
Broken parking meters
Bonin's first motion as a Councilmember was to rescind the City's policy of issuing tickets to cars parked at broken parking meters. The bill, which Bonin said was intended to show that "government should be on your side, not on your back" was unanimously approved by the Council.
In the fall of 2014, with California in a historic drought, Bonin and his colleague Felipe Fuentes introduced a pair of motions focused on water conservation in Los Angeles. The first motion asked the city to explore recommendations made in a 2013 UCLA report titled "Residential Water Consumption in Los Angeles," including adding extra tiers to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power's water rate system. The second motion called on the city to stop watering large lawns on public property in order to conserve water and to make city facilities "showcases for sustainability".
Internet-based business tax rate
In the fall of 2014, Bonin worked with his colleague Bob Blumenfield to extend a reduced tax rate for internet-based businesses in Los Angeles as a way to encourage technology companies to create jobs in Los Angeles.
Voted "Best of the Westside" by Argonaut readers
In 2014, Bonin was voted "Best Local Public Servant (elected)" in The Argonaut's annual "Best of the Westside" reader poll. He went on to win the award in 2015 and 2016 as well - all three years that he has been eligible to receive it.
Recognized for his environmental leadership
In 2016, Bonin accepted the first ever "Bill Rosendahl Community Champion Award" at the Sierra Club's Political Leadership Awards, and has also been honored for his work on improving bike and pedestrian safety in neighborhoods throughout the city.
Recognized for his relationship with neighborhood councils
In September 2017, Bonin was recognized in the position of #4 as one of the "Top 5 City Council Members Most Likely to Despise Los Angeles Neighborhood Councils"
Attempted street safety initiative for Playa del Rey
In June 2017, the city of Los Angeles implemented a street safety project in Playa del Rey, in Councilman Bonin's district. Due to a recently settled $9.5 million lawsuit and the potential for increased liability, the city felt compelled to redesign Vista del Mar to dissuade unsafe and reckless driving behavior, as well as unsafe conditions for people walking, biking, and crossing the street to get to the beach. In order to accommodate safe U-turns, safe parking, and to reduce instances of dangerous speeding, the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) created a design that installed angled parking on the west side of the street for the beach, eliminated parking on the east side of the street, and reduced the road to two travel lanes with locations for safe U-turns spaced throughout. At the same time, after a public process which started in 2015, begun in response to community concerns about unsafe streets in the neighborhood, Pershing Dr, Culver Blvd, and Jefferson Blvd were redesigned in a way that added bike lanes as well as center turn lanes where appropriate. Together, these redesigns were installed as one project, the Safe Streets for Playa Del Rey initiative. Commonly known as "road diets" such configurations had been used to countermeasure unsafe streets before.
Efforts emerged in response to return the lanes to their previous state, citing traffic concerns and lost business. A petition with more than 7,000 signatures was submitted to Councilman Bonin after congestion increased. The Neighborhood Council for Playa del Rey/Westchester/Playa Vista proceeded to submit requests for the previous configuration, and a letter from the area Chamber of Commerce was submitted to Councilman Bonin requesting lanes be reverted to their original configuration. Two separate lawsuits were ultimately filed in opposition to the lane reductions. Though the project was set to report back on the status of transportation issues on the redesigned streets (including drive time and collisions), the overwhelming pressure of various groups convinced the Councilmember to revert the roads and form a Task Force of local community members and advocates to find an alternative solution.
Following the redesign of the streets into their previous configuration, a campaign for a re-call election to remove Councilman Bonin from office was also launched on September 15, 2017.
Bonin lives in Mar Vista with his husband, Sean Arian whom he married in the summer of 2014. Mayor Eric Garcetti performed the wedding ceremony. Arian is founder and President of EOS Consulting and also serves as the Founder and Chief Strategist for Bixel Exchange, a technology startup incubator created by the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce and Small Business Development Center. While never actually homeless, Bonin has described himself as "teetering on the edge of homelessness" after college, having suffered for many years with addictions to crystal meth and alcohol, which he says he has since overcome.