A progressive Democrat representing coastal communities in Los Angeles has been served with a recall notice amid rising tensions over homeless encampments in his district, particularly those lining the famous Venice Beach boardwalk.
Organizers of the effort say a process server presented the notice to Councilman Mike Bonin outside his home in the Mar Vista neighborhood on Tuesday morning. If city officials approve their petition, recall proponents would need to gather more than 27,000 valid signatures from registered voters in Bonin’s district within 120 days for ballot placement.
The recall notice accuses Bonin of breaking promises, implementing flawed strategies addressing homelessness, and claims he “has abandoned his constituents and ignored their pleas for help.”
“Council District 11 has suffered loss of life, destroyed livelihoods, and now faces a massive humanitarian, public health, and public safety crisis,” the document says. “Our streets have become de facto campgrounds, sanitation policies are failing, crime is rising, and Mike Bonin remains unresponsive.”
Bonin dismissed the campaign as an attempt to “derail” his proposed solutions to help homeless people and “the latest in a series of recall attempts to silence strong progressive voices,” referring to similar drives targeting Governor Gavin Newsom, L.A. County District Attorney George Gascón, and L.A. City Councilmember Nithya Raman.
“This effort is encouraged, backed and fueled by people who have repeatedly fought to stop housing, shelter, and services, perpetuating a crisis that is hurting our neighborhoods and leaving people to die on the streets,” Bonin said in a statement. “And make no mistake – this recall has been championed and promoted by the same right-wing forces that are trying to erode the democratic process and take down progressive officials around the state.”
Katrina Schmitt, a resident of Venice and co-chair of the “Recall Bonin 2021” campaign, told the Los Angeles Times that three of the five constituents who signed the recall notice are Democrats.
“This recall is not ‘right-wing forces’ coming after Mike Bonin,” she wrote in an email to the Times. “We are a nonpartisan campaign of multipartisan residents…including many people who voted for Bonin.”
Mike Bonin has been served w/the intent to recall. All of you who’ve asked “when is it time?”-its now time to move forward. This is a non-partisan effort run by a multi-partisan committee of real people from across all of CD11. Sign up at https://t.co/FoPHpqzdYj. Thread below—> https://t.co/h5CKevfw9A pic.twitter.com/Qhtj5sBpuX
— RecallBonin2021 (@recallbonin2021) June 16, 2021
The recall campaign’s website says the drive is a separate segregated fund and project of Protecting Our Beaches Schools Neighborhoods And Parks, a California nonprofit and 501(c)(4) social welfare organization.
Bonin has been feuding with neighborhood councils and L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva over the best way to handle the homeless population at Venice Beach. Tensions recently escalated after Villanueva deployed deputies to the boardwalk last week to evaluate the situation and implement an incremental plan to clear transients from the area by July 4. The sheriff said he is forced to take action because Bonin and other elected progressives have prevented the Los Angeles Police Department, which patrols Venice, from enforcing the rule of law and regulating public space.
A proposal put forth by Bonin seeks to use parks and beach parking lots in his district as temporary “safe camping” sites for homeless people. Opponents argue, however, that the plan would reduce access to recreational areas and negatively impact public safety.
According to the L.A. Times, “Bonin is already running in the June 2022 election for his third and final term, and currently faces a single opponent.” The outlet reported, “If recall proponents gather sufficient signatures over a four-month period, and the council uses the maximum time for scheduling an election, the recall vote would ‘most likely’ occur in May 2022, said Jinny Pak, who manages the city clerk’s election division.”