Getting Our Voices Heard

Councilmember Mike Bonin addresses the crowd gathered at a fireside chat.
Photos courtesy of Sash Ramaswami

Have a Problem in the City? Mike Bonin Will Listen.

By NAYA RAMASWAMI | Junior Reporter

Recently, I was curious about the frequent helicopter activity above my house. I asked my mom if there was an increase in burglaries in the neighborhood. She suggested that I attend a meeting with our city leaders.

Last week, I attended my first city council meeting. We met in the living room of a local home where appetizers and drinks were served. It was there that I was introduced to Mike Bonin, Councilmember for the 11th District of the City of Los Angeles. He was personable, mingling and shaking hands with people in the room.

A total of 15 community members showed up to the event. Bonin took time to chat and listen to people before he addressed the crowd, “When you represent 270,000 people, you try to find ways to actually get to meet them.”

Bonin said he focuses most on transportation, homelessness, environmental protection and public safety with the neighborhood.

Community members had a variety of issues they wanted to raise with Bonin. Among them were concerns about the Ruthless Riders and how some felt the police were “scared” of the motorcyclists.

Naya Ramaswami

Others brought up the carelessness of pet owners who don’t keep their dogs on leashes or pick up after them.

“It’s just horrible. I mean, it’s everywhere. I mean, I just, I can’t stand it,” complained one resident.

Traffic concerns included the lack of both traffic and streetlights in the Alphabet Streets. There were complaints of drivers failing to stop at traffic lights and stop signs.

Some community members felt that the roads needed more speed humps. Others pointed to tree roots damaging sidewalks, and they requested repairs. The issue of homelessness was also addressed, and some attendees offered ideas to help pregnant women living on the streets.

I noticed that the issues discussed at the meeting weren’t very different from those discussed regularly among Palisadians, and even online on Nextdoor. I thought to myself that if more people who took the time to post on the neighborhood social app actually showed up to these meetings, then perhaps we could expect some substantial change.

Even Bonin acknowledges that those who yell the loudest are the ones who get his attention: “It’s very easy to spend all your time and attention on the same 300 who call your office every day or are active in local groups.”

By attending the event, I learned that Bonin goes out of his way to meet people, from organizing community hikes and bike rides, to arranging meetings in residents’ living rooms and pop-up stands at local farmers’ markets.

Mike Bonin is happy to listen. That’s not the problem. If residents want to truly make a difference in our community, I think more should make their voices heard.

Can you imagine the difference residents could make if they actually filled that living room and demanded action from our leaders?