Mike Bonin fights for real solutions and stands up for what’s right, regardless of the political consequences.
Representing Westside neighborhoods on the City Council since 2013, Mike has been a leader in taking on LA’s toughest challenges, unafraid to advocate for bold, transformative solutions on homelessness, affordable housing, climate change, transportation, and public safety. An accomplished advocate for his district, Mike has been a champion of neighborhoods, a force for smart, responsive government, and a progressive problem solver.
As the pandemic hit in 2020, Mike knew Angelenos would be facing an unprecedented crisis, and he fought to make local government respond differently than it ever had before, He moved quickly to propose bold measures to protect tenants, workers, and small businesses, and new programs to help seniors, families, and children.
Mike speaks up when others stay silent and he takes on battles others find too controversial. Mike’s principled stands on behalf of the people he represents have won the ire of the police union, corporate real estate interests, fossil fuel companies, and other elected officials. In the middle of a fiscal crisis, he insisted the police union renegotiate its contract in order to prevent deep cuts in neighborhood patrols. He was the lone vote against cuts to emergency response programs and to bus service. He has successfully fought for reforms that make it easier for grassroots candidates to challenge the establishment. In 2018, Mike refused to remain silent in the face of injustice, and was arrested in downtown Los Angeles protesting the Trump administration’s cruel border policy of separating children from their families.
With LA facing big problems, Mike believes we need big, smart solutions that address the cause, not the symptoms, of our problems. He led the successful fight for a citywide $15 minimum wage so that all Angelenos could better support themselves and their families. He has been fighting for fareless transit for LA’s buses and trains, for construction of city-owned mixed-income social housing, for formation of a publicly-owned bank to finance community investment, and for deploying unarmed, trained professionals, rather than armed law enforcement officers, to respond to issues like mental health crises, homelessness, and moving violations. Mike has been a leader on citywide issues, and a remarkably effective advocate for his district, which includes Pacific Palisades, Brentwood, West LA/Sawtelle, Mar Vista, Del Rey, Venice, Marina del Rey, Playa Vista, Playa del Rey, Westchester and Ladera.
Mike has been a prescient and passionate voice on homelessness, warning of a humanitarian crisis and advocating new solutions years before others even acknowledged there was a problem. Mike has been fighting since 2015 for quick, nimble solutions to homelessness, such as shared housing and master leasing, which the City is now finally beginning to explore. Mike was the earliest advocate for safe parking and bridge housing programs that other officials are adopting. Mike was the first elected official in LA to push for solutions faster and less expensive than permanent supportive housing, and was chastised for his then-unorthodox position. Mike has won admiration for resisting vocal opposition to homeless housing in his district, standing strong against legal and political challenges. On Mike’s watch, the Westside has seen the opening or approval of hundreds of new units of supportive housing, new bridge housing, has purchased motels for use as homeless housing, and has opened sites for “safe parking” and “safe camping.” He is pushing for additional supportive housing, shared housing, bridge shelter, cabin communities, safe parking, safe camping, and more.
Mike has led on efforts to preserve, protect and promote affordable housing -- and to provide it in his district.
During the pandemic, Mike and his colleagues assembled the largest and most comprehensive rent relief program in the country, saving tenants and small landlords from financial ruin. Mike has fought for some of the toughest tenant protection rules in the nation, and for the“right to counsel” for tenants facing eviction. Mike jump-started a long-stalled process to toughen affordable protections in the coastal zone, and has sought to curb state laws that permit demolition of affordable units and promote neighborhood gentrification. Mike has proposed using federal relief funds to help homeowners keep their properties, and to finance purchase or construction of publicly-owned, mixed-income housing. Mike has negotiated a record percentage of affordable housing in a project near the Metro Expo Line, and is creating hundreds of units of affordable housing at his office at the West LA Civic Center.
An ardent environmentalist, Mike considers the climate crisis to be a threat to our families and to the neighborhoods he represents. He led the charge for LADWP to create a roadmap to 100% clean energy by 2035, and successfully pushed to get the City of Los Angeles to commit to shutting down gas-fired power plants near the coast. Mike successfully fought to completely electrify the city’s bus fleet by 2028, and the LA Metro fleet by 2030 He has called for the closure of the So Cal Gas facility in Playa del Rey, led legislative efforts to curb fossil fuel production in Los Angeles, and is forcing LAX to reduce its carbon footprint.
Mike pushed the City to recycle 100 percent of its wastewater by 2035 as part of an effort to reduce the city’s dependence on imported water, and has overseen the completion of Prop O water quality projects in his district. Mike is also a guardian of urban forest, winning more resources for additional trees, toughening the City’s protected tree ordinance, and securing stiff penalties for offenders.
Mike is a key leader in regional transportation matters. He chairs the council's Transportation Committee, and serves on the Board of Directors of the LA Metro, where he is considered the agency’s staunchest advocate for passengers and fareless service. At LA Metro, he has championed improved service, bus rapid transit, north-south rail connecting the Westside and the San Fernando Valley, and connecting rail to LAX (which is finally under construction). Mike is a strong advocate for increasing our transportation choices, and believes we can relieve traffic and create livable streets and neighborhoods through greater use of rail, bus, bikes and walking. He has also successfully pushed for the expansion of bike-share programs to the Westside.
Mike has been a strong and thoughtful voice on public safety, pushing LAPD reforms to enhance neighborhood safety for everyone, and leading the charge for expansions of the Los Angeles Fire Department and for emergency and disaster response.
In 2017, Mike called for increasing public safety by shutting down specialized militaristic police details and moving officers to neighborhood patrols, netting hundreds of more officers for crime prevention and faster 911 response. In 2022, during calls to reimagine public safety, Mike supported efforts to reduce armed response to an array of issues, allowing officers to focus on violent crimes and theft. Mike pushed for LA to hire trained, unarmed professionals to handle calls about homelessness, mental health, and neighborhood disputes. Mike has called for an end to racially-biased traffic stops, and is co-author of proposals to remove armed law enforcement from traffic enforcement.
Mike is a champion of firefighting and emergency management resources, and led the successful effort to revitalize the LAFD after budget cuts during the Great Recession. He has secured funding for hiring more fighters, restoring engine companies, adding ambulances, and updating equipment. He has also fought for expanded resources for the Emergency Management Department.
Mike has been a strong and effective advocate for his district, securing additional resources for his neighborhoods, resolving long-standing conflicts, reviving long-stalled projects, and making neighborhood improvements.
Mike brokered a landmark agreement that allows Los Angeles International Airport to modernize without expanding into or negatively impacting surrounding neighborhoods in Westchester and Playa del Rey. He forced LAX to downsize a development plan and create a community-backed project that will provide ballfields, open space, and neighborhood retail in the LAX Northside.
Mike pushed forward the George Wolfberg Park at Potrero Canyon, which is nearing completion, and the creation of a new kids playground at Via Dolce Park, a new passive park on Milton Street along the Ballona Creek, and a new dog park at Glen Alla Park. He secured funds for a series of improvements at neighborhood parks, including Westchester Park, Del Rey Lagoon Park, Culver-Slauson Park, Stoner Park, Penmar Park, and Venice Beach. He also secured funds for the repair and restoration of the Venice Pier and for the renovation of the Vera Davis Youth & Family Center, while opening a closed senior center as a home for 12-step meetings.
Mike launched an ambitious #WestsideFastForward initiative to create alternatives to traffic gridlock. The effort brought on-demand neighborhood shuttle service to Mar Vista, Venice, Del Rey, Palms and Playa Vista, and to Westchester and Playa del Rey, with an additional service expected soon for Brentwood. He delivered new technology to ease gridlock at the Sunset/405 chokepoint, and created a “Sunset Standard,” which forces any development on Sunset Boulevard to actually reduce its traffic impacts. He has improved traffic flow through installation of left-turn signals, and installed a series of pedestrian safety improvements throughout the district, especially around schools.
Mike expanded Los Angeles Fire Department resources in his district, including adding new ambulances at several stations, bike medics at Venice Beach and LAX, and restoring a critical Fire Engine company in Pacific Palisades. He won approval for the purchase of an LAFD helicopter which proved crucial in saving lives and property in the canyons and hillsides of the 11th District.
Mike has fought for sensible development for the Westside, prioritizing affordable housing. He negotiated a record amount of affordable housing in a transit-friendly project next to the Metro Expo Line, and stopped an oversized luxury development in Playa del Rey that violated coastal development rules. To make sure the community gets to shape development decisions, he secured funds for the update of community plans throughout the Westside.
Mike has worked to recognize and celebrate the diversity of the 11th District, creating the official “Sawtelle Japantown” designation for part of West LA, installing a Black Lives Matter mural in Venice, and supporting a Mexican-American Traqueros monument and a memorial marker on Lincoln Boulevard for Japanese-Americans who were interned during World War II. Mike has supported the immigrant communities in his district, supporting annual Persian celebrations and Oaxacan celebrations in West LA. Mike has fought for low-income and undocumented residents, particularly in the Mar Vista Gardens Housing community.
In the neighborhoods he represents, Mike is known for his hands-on approach and his insistence on better, faster city services. He can be seen frequently filling potholes, picking up trash, or trimming trees with city workers, or riding along with firefighters. Prior to the pandemic, Mike held open community office hours in the evenings and on weekends at local farmers markets, coffee shops, and senior centers to provide working families access to their council representative when it is more convenient for them. Mike and his staff regularly meet with neighbors in their homes or on Zoom, seeking ideas to improve city services, and coordinate service projects to improve our neighborhoods.
Mike won election to the City Council in the March 2013 municipal primary with 62% of the vote. He easily won re-election in March 2017, scoring 71% of the vote. Mike has worked on behalf of Westside neighborhoods since 1996, working in senior positions for Councilmember Bill Rosendahl, Congresswoman Jane Harman, and Councilwoman Ruth Galanter. Mike also served as a regional field organizer in California for Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, and was the co-founder and program director of Camp Courage, an acclaimed training program for community organizers fighting for the freedom to marry for the LGBT community.
Mike and his husband, Sean Arian, live in Mar Vista with their young son. Mike is a recovering drug addict and alcoholic, who openly shares about his struggles with substance abuse, and with depression. A Catholic whose faith informs his commitment to social justice, Mike is a member of St. Monica’s Church in Santa Monica. A Massachusetts native and former newspaper reporter, Mike graduated from Harvard University in 1989 with a B.A. in United States History.