Despite collecting over 39,000 signatures, an effort to recall CD-11 City Councilman Mike Bonin was rejected by the City Clerk as only 25,965 signatures were deemed valid.

This falls 1,352 short of the required 27,317 signatures to trigger a recall and was an announcement met with joy by Bonin and renewed determination by recall proponents, who seek to oust Bonin as he faces reelection in 2022.

The recall was fueled by discontent over Bonin’s approach to homelessness, which supporters of the recall say has gotten considerably worse during his tenure and become particularly egregious in Venice.

Community tensions boiled over in summer 2021 as over 250 individuals camped out on Boardwalk, flared up over Bonin’s proposal to house homeless individuals in beach parking lots, and were recently reignited by his proposal to open a homeless decompression center next to an elementary school. Plans for the decompression center were put on hold the same day that the recall results were announced.

“Today we learned that at least 26,000 CD-11 residents are ready for an immediate change in leadership at City Hall. This may be just short of those needed to trigger an immediate recall of Mike Bonin, but it’s just a fraction of the voters who will vote him out on June 7,” said CD-11 candidate Traci Park in a statement on the recall results.

Park was referring to the June 7 primary elections where candidates can win their City Council seat if they receive a majority of votes. Park launched her campaign in July 2021 and is the primary candidate running against Bonin, who was first elected in 2013 and won reelection in 2017.

“Every day I talk to residents who are fed up with the worsening situation on our streets and in our neighborhoods,” said Park. “Mike Bonin’s failures have made our community less safe, hurt local businesses, and damaged our wetlands and beaches.”

Bonin reacted to the recall news with glee and a promise to double down on his services and not enforcement based approach.

“Great news! The effort to recall me from office has failed,” tweeted Bonin on Jan. 18. “Today is the end of a wasteful, distracting abuse of the electoral process. But it’s nowhere near the end of attacks on our progressive values and solutions to homelessness.”

On Jan. 18 it was announced that one of Bonin’s proposed solutions to homelessness in Venice was put on hold due to a cease and desist letter from a resident organization called Venice Kids Count.

Bonin sought to open a “decompression center” at the Westminster Senior Center, which would provide unhoused individuals with services and a location to recover from mental health crises or substance use. Bonin also shared plans to potentially use the site as a winter homeless shelter.

Venice Kids Count opposed using this site for such purposes as it is directly next to the Westminster Elementary School and three preschools that care for over 400 children. It is also adjacent to a highly utilized community dog park and an early education center that serves low-income families.

In 2016, Venice Kids Count filed a lawsuit to prevent a former plan by Bonin to utilize the senior center to provide showers, property storage and mail facilities to unhoused individuals. As part of the lawsuit’s settlement, the City is required to give the organization 60 days notice of plans to utilize the center as a homeless facility, which legal representatives for Venice Kids Count say the City failed to do for the proposed decompression center.

At a Jan. 18 meeting, representatives for the City of LA. said plans for the decompression shelter are on pause while the City Attorney’s Office responds to the cease and desist letter.

The Westside Current contributed to this story.

Clara@smdp.com