At the annual Democratic Garden Party, held September 19 via Zoom, Councilman Mike Bonin was one of several City and State officials who was featured.
Bonin was asked about his plan to house homeless on beaches and in public parks, which he announced in April. There had been an instant outcry from residents in Pacific Palisades, Westchester, Mar Vista, Marina del Rey and Playa del Rey, who said public spaces should be available for all.
“According to documents recovered from the Public Act, the idea of putting homeless on the beach and the parks started in August 2020,” the emcee told Bonin. “What took you so long to tell the community that it was going on—and then to ask your fellow councilmembers to approve a feasibility study after it had already been worked on for eight months?”
Bonin told the emcee that he and Federal Judge David Carter had discussed his plan. “Let me recharacterize about putting homeless on the parks and beaches,” Bonin said. “There are homeless on our parks and beaches, now. The purpose of this motion was to develop emergency shelters to get them out of our parks and beaches. To find an alternative to encampments, which is the number one complaint in the City now.”
Bonin’s plan would have included putting tiny homes for the homeless in the heavily-used Dockweiler and Will Rogers State Beach Parking lots for three years.
The emcee reminded Bonin that in the April 20, 2021, in an injunction filed in the US District Court, that Carter wrote Los Angeles has lost its parks, beaches, schools, sidewalks, and highway systems due to the inaction of City and County officials who have left our homeless citizens with no other place to turn.
In November 2020, Carter had been quoted as saying, “Our public is not going to stand for homeless people taking our parks and our beaches and our libraries.”
That injunction states: “Within 30 days, City Controller Ron Galperin shall oversee the creation of a report on all land potentially available within each district for housing and sheltering the homeless of each district. The homeless have been left no other place to turn to but our beaches, parks, libraries, and sidewalks, and it is pivotal that they no longer rely on spaces that enhance quality of life for all citizens.”
But Bonin corrected the emcee saying her statement was incorrect, that he had spoken to Carter about the locations he was proposing.
“The city is in long-time litigation with [LA Alliance for Human Rights et.al v. City of L.A. et. al.] — Judge Carter, a federal judge,” Bonin said. “He has been demanding of us to come up with places for safe camping and cabin communities. He has been insistent on coming up with them in our district, which considerably limits the places I have. He had been asking for suggestions for months.”
Bonin explained that as the City Council was making decisions, “We were spitballing with the court – our bureaucracy was only saying ‘yes’ to places on the Eastside of L.A., which would have meant we would have suffered under any court decision. I was insistent that the ideas we have here be evaluated.”
Circling the News reached out to Elizabeth Mitchell, the attorney with the law firm of Spertuss, Landes & Umhofer, who represents the L.A. Alliance for Human Rights to ask if she had heard the conversation between Bonin and Carter. She was asked if Bonin’s assurance that Carter had been on board with housing homeless in shared public spaces was correct.
“I certainly can’t speak to private conversations between Mike Bonin and Judge Carter, but I can provide context around the district-by-district model,” Mitchell told CTN by phone. “And I know there are areas of CD11 available to meet the district’s numbers that aren’t on the beach and make more sense for both the housed and unhoused communities.”