(Editor’s note: Venice Current Editor Jamie Paige wrote this story December 20, 2020, and updated it on December 31. It is reprinted with permission. Paige covers stories that impact Venice, including stories about CD 11 Councilman Mike Bonin. Visit: venicecurrent.com.)
Councilmember Mike Bonin has started putting fundraising mechanisms in place for the 2022 City Council District 11 (CD11) office. But, questions loom on information filed on conflict of interest statements. The filing also comes as a homeless and safety crisis in Venice and other parts of CD 11 hang over Bonin’s head.
According to documents filed on the Los Angeles Ethics Commission website, Bonin submitted the three forms needed for a 2022 candidacy for the CD11 City Council seat. He is the only candidate at this time to do so.
Candidates cannot officially file a declaration to run until later in 2021, but they can raise money for the race. Something Bonin has started, according to disclosure papers.
Bonin was first elected as the CD 11 councilmember in July 2013 and was reelected on July 1, 2017, with a term to expire on Dec. 11, 2022.
Economic disclosure at question
The Political Reform Act (“PRA”), also known as the Conflict of Interest Code, requires designated public officials to file a Statement of Economic Interests (“SEI”), Form 700. The purpose of filing a Conflict of Interest Statement is to disclose assets and income which may be materially affected by their official actions.
Councilmember Mike Bonin filed a Form 700 (Conflict of Interest Statement) on May of 2020. Included is the disclosure of assets and income.
At question on Bonin’s 700 form, an income property that Bonin listed to be [only] owned by his spouse. Records obtained for this report show that Mike Bonin is listed on the property’s deed of trust.
A certified copy of the gift of deed for property that Bonin listed to be [only] his spouses.
This past week that same property came under question in a city council meeting. The council passed a motion to establish a citywide moratorium on rent. Bonin pushed for a 24-month repayment window, but ultimately the city council amended the motion and decided that tenants will have six months to repay owed rent after. When asked about the property, Bonin [again] denied that he was part owner to fellow city council members.
Other questions surround the property. On the SEI, Bonin listed the rental income from the year for the duplex to be less than $10,000, checking a box of $0-$499.
The Venice Current looked for a paper trail of rent and only found one tenant for the duplex.
Also at question is the disclosed fair market value of his spouses business. Bonin’s husband, Sean Arian, owns the consulting firm EOS consulting. Bonin listed the fair market value of EOS to be between $10-$100,000 but listed Arian’s income to be more than $100,000.
EOS is the only source of income listed. Also, according to the EOS website, at least two other staff members are employed. EOS clients include the Chamber of Commerce, Nike and LA-Tech.org.
The fight for the CD11 seat could be the toughest yet for Bonin
Since elected, Bonin has had a major homeless crisis hanging over his head. On February 3, 2013, the Los Angeles Times reported that 174 people lived on Venice’s streets with 132 more at its winter shelter. The latest count by the Los Angeles Homeless Authority (LAHSA) in 2020 showed Venice to have 1,981 people experiencing homeless living on its streets. That’s a 1,138 percent increase or a 10 x jump.
Crime is also another major concern for the community. In an October 1 report published by The Venice Current, aggravated assaults were up by 80 percent during the period of Aug 23 to September 8. According to the Los Angeles Police Department between 50-60 percent of the crimes took place on or near the boardwalk. Violent crimes also went up 43 percent during that period, according to the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD).
Two homicides have occurred since that report.
On Wednesday, Oct. 28, Jesus Valdivia was killed during a struggle for his bicycle that was said to be being stolen by Dylan Brumley. Brumley, a person who was experiencing homelessness at the time, has since been arrested and charged with homicide in the case.
On Tuesday, Dec. 1, 28-year-old Ky Thomas was shot at 5:45 p.m. on the Ocean Front Walk just south of Windward Circle, according to the Los Angeles Police Department. She later died from her injuries. Police continue to look for the person responsible for Thomas’s death.
Data uncovered in a recent NBC4 I-Team report called Venice Beach up in Flames, showed fires related to homelessness were up 82 percent citywide in 2020 compared to last year. Venice was said to be one of the epicenters of the problem.
Popularity for the councilmember is also at an all-time low. In 2019, a Venice Resident Satisfaction Survey was held during the Venice Neighborhood Elections. At that time, 61.41 percent of Venice residents said they were extremely disappointed in Bonin’s performance of addressing the needs of Venice stakeholders. Only 4 percent said they were extremely satisfied with Bonin.
The past November, The Venice Neighborhood Council voted to approve a resolution of no confidence in LA Metro, Mayor Eric Garcetti, Councilmember Mike Bonin, and service providers PATH and SPY, holding them accountable for lack of management and leadership when it comes to A Bridge Home (ABH) at the bus yard on Main Street in Venice. The resolution states that LA Metro, Garcetti, Bonin, SPY and PATH failed to provide the basic services promised to the Venice neighborhood surrounding the ABH.