The 11th Council District is one of the most affluent and largest in the Los Angeles area.
Spanning approximately 28 square miles from the tony hillside suburbs of Brentwood and Pacific Palisades to the sandy beaches of Venice and Playa del Rey, it is a district that requires its representative to have a strong grasp of the issues that concern its constituents. Each community has its own diverse needs, and inattention can lead to a flurry of calls and letters from angry residents.
For the past three years, Bill Rosendahl, who represents the 11th District, has crisscrossed his district on almost a daily basis in whirlwind fashion, interacting with constituents at a groundbreaking ceremony, officiating at a constituent’s wedding or taking questions during town hall meetings on development or public safety. At 63, he says that he still has the drive and the passion that he feels are necessary in order to serve his constituents.
And now he is seeking an encore to his first act, as his reelection campaign swings into full mode with the March 3rd election looming on the horizon.
“I really have a passion for this job,” Rosendahl said during a recent interview at a local restaurant. “This is a district where you really have to be out there talking to people, finding out what are the issues that matter most to them, listening with sensitivity and then looking for solutions to their issues.”
The councilman describes his district as a vibrant and exciting area that is also a wonderful place to live.
“It has fabulous views, it has the mountains, the wetlands and the ocean, and by that standard, by nature’s standard, it is the most blessed district, in my opinion,” said Rosendahl, who lives in Mar Vista. “Each area has its own story, its own character.”
His only competition in his reelection bid is Harry “Craig” Wilson, a Department of Water and Power employee with no political experience.
As he prepares to run for his second term, Rosendahl discussed what he feels is critical to being an effective elected representative on the City Council.
“The most important job as a councilman is constituent services,” said Rosendahl. As an example, he pointed to Mar Vista Gardens in Del Rey, a housing project where residents were denied mail service delivery for weeks last year. After Rosendahl intervened with postal authorities, direct mail service was restored a week before Christmas.
“That might seem like a minor thing to some people, but it’s a quality of life issue,” the councilman pointed out.
Rosendahl has kept a very busy schedule during his first three years in office, and the communities that he represents reflect the attention that he has paid them.
Establishing the farmer’s market in Mar Vista; breaking ground on the new skate park in Venice; negotiating a new lease for the literary organization Beyond Baroque; leading the fight to impose a moratorium on billboards in the district; and facilitating the return of the ancestral remains of a Gabrieleno/Tongva tribe to its burial ground in Playa Vista are some of the key victories in his first term.
Because of his assistance in facilitating the return of the remains to the tribe, Rosendahl was honored with the distinction of being the first non-Native American to take part in a sacred Gabrieleno/ Tongva purification ceremony.
“It was one of the most gratifying moments in my career,” Rosendahl recalled. “I’ll remember that moment for the rest of my life.”
Rosendahl speaks highly of his Neighborhood Councils, which inform him about many of the most pressing matters that are occurring in each community. “They are on the front lines of democracy, so I listen to my local councils,” said Rosendahl.
Venice Advisory Board president Mike Newhouse holds Rosendahl in high esteem.
“He’s been our biggest ally,” Newhouse told The Argonaut. “He seems to really understand the utility and the importance of Neighborhood Councils.”
Joanne Harvey Dixon respects the way Rosendahl frequently appears in person when his constituents are in need of assistance.
“Every time that we’ve had problems he personally gets involved,” said Harvey-Dixon, a Del Rey resident who lives in Mar Vista Gardens. “He’s very active in the communities that he represents, and he seems to really care about people, no matter where they live or their race or gender.”
Some hot-button topics that Rosendahl hopes to confront if he wins a second term include the modernization of Los Angeles International Airport and the new environmental impact report on Phase Two of Playa Vista. Perhaps the most controversial at the moment is the debate over whether people should be allowed to sleep in their vehicles within blocks of the beach or whether to establish overnight parking districts.
Rosendahl said he has proposed amending the municipal code to decriminalize sleeping in a vehicle, and to underscore how volatile the subject has become, a Venice Beach resident took umbrage to that recommendation.
“It is my opinion that such a misguided proposal does nothing but invite more people to Venice, to say nothing of the existing [recreational vehicle] dilemma, as well as the hundreds of people who live on the boardwalk at Venice Beach each and every day,” Nick Antonicello wrote in a letter to the editor in December.
“It’s one of the most challenging issues that I’m facing,” the councilman acknowledged. “We’re looking at different ways to come up with solutions as we go forward with the possibility of overnight parking restrictions.”
The councilman gives credit to his field deputies and communications staff for assisting him in serving his constituency.
“I think that I have the best staff of any council member or government official in the Southland,” Rosendahl stated. “My folks are everywhere, like I am, and I hear about the great job that they do from my constituents, who are not at all bashful about letting me know how they feel.”
Rosendahl debated his challenger Wilson at the Mar Vista Recreation Center on Monday, February 23rd. He is the only incumbent thus far to debate his opponent.
At the end of the interview, the councilman described what he believes is the essence of public service.
“Politics is about connecting with people,” Rosendahl concluded. “The joy for me is meeting people and interacting with them. If I can make their life a little better by being an instrument through their politic, I’m honored.”