Mario Fonda-Bonardi

Council Candidate for a Better City

What I Want To Accomplish

  • Implement a City philosophy that lives within its means, does more with less, and does not increase the residents’ cost of living with ever-increasing taxes driven by never ending increases in non-resident driven demand on city services
  • Enhance and ensure the safety of all residents, renters’ and owners, at all income levels, where they can feel safe using its parks and walking its streets
  • Preserve as much as possible our colorful and varied small businesses so our residents can maintain our sense of community and feel welcome shopping our stores.
  • Provide the residents real progress on “green” sustainability.  Stopping unchecked rampant development is the single most effective first step in achieving that goal!
  • Enhance our mix of affordable housing through intelligent and preplanned targeted repurposing of existing under-utilized commercial spaces throughout the city

Why I Can Accomplish My Goals

Intimate Involvement with and Understanding of the Fabric of Santa Monica

  • Santa Monica resident for 45 years
  • Raised my family in Santa Monica entirely through our public schools
  • Conservancy Board Member directly involved in saving multiple SM landmarks
  • Worked for 18 years to create the new beautiful Civic Center Sports Field
  • Neighborhood architect instrumental on multiple affordable housing projects
  • Member and Former Chair of the Santa Monica Planning Commission, focused on sustainability
  • Founding member of SMA.r.t (Santa Monica Architects for a Responsible Tomorrow)

Roots

Born in New York to Italian emigrant parents, I and my family moved to Southern California in the early 1950s. I earned a BA degree in architecture at UC Berkeley where I began my political activism primarily in the anti-war movement.

An Architect Here and Abroad

After graduation I joined the Peace Corps and spent two years in Micronesia as a community development architect. There I designed typhoon-resistant schools, water systems, and an airport. When I returned to the US I apprenticed in an architect’s office, got my architect license, opened my own practice in Santa Monica, and joined the American Institute of Architects. The projects I have undertaken have been diverse, but I primarily have worked on residential structures including single family residences and affordable housing projects for such clients as Santa Monica Community Corp, Latin American Civic Association and West Hollywood Community Housing Corporation.

What No Longer Works

Now having spent 40 years in my profession, I see a need to address the increasingly critical issue of sustainability and resilience in design and construction. The continuous wasteful churning of demolition to build marginally better larger new buildings, thereby wasting previously embedded materials/energy and creating more demand for new materials, has spurred me to become increasingly involved in historic preservation and sustainability.

Saving History and Reusing Old Buildings

In this regard, I spearheaded, with many other activists, a 17-year battle to save the last intact 1897 Shotgun House in Ocean Park. We moved it for storage until a new use could be found. Sensitively rehabilitated, it is now the headquarters of the Santa Monica Conservancy where I have served on its board of directors for a decade. Working with the Conservancy, I also was instrumental in the landmarking Chez Jay Restaurant and bar and the designating the 11th Street Bungalow Historic District, among others.

Understanding our Small Business Community

I am always seeking ways to improve life. While I founded a small tree moving business, I spent time inventing solar collectors to distill water, and founded a Food Cooperative specializing in organic foods (Venice Ocean Park Food Cooperative). While it lasted about 2 decades before being closed by rent increases, I learned many valuable lessons about small business operations.

Actively Contributing to the Betterment of Our Community

My wife Sylvia and I, married 35 years, raised our family in Santa Monica. Our children attended Santa Monica public schools throughout their education. I became a soccer dad and coach, remaining actively involved with AYSO for 17 years coaching soccer teams long after my children graduated.

With other dedicated activists, I worked for 18 years to create the new beautiful Civic Center Sports Field which will not only benefit Santa Monica High School’s athletic and marching band programs but also provide other community uses.

“Green” Is a Dream to Be Realized

My dissatisfaction with the City’s claim to be “green” yet its failure to shrink its ecological footprint (conversely always expanding it) led me to apply and be appointed to the Santa Monica Planning Commission five years ago.

In this position I consistently pushed for projects to be more energy-efficient, water conserving and lighter on the land, favoring overall a slow growth policy against over-development. I further advocate for reasoned, slow growth as a member of SMart (Santa Monica Architects for a Responsible Tomorrow).

Together we architects have written well-received articles in the Santa Monica Mirror, educating the public about sustainable building and giving our opinions about local development projects.

Our Current Council Has Failed Us

However, in spite of my dedication to public service AND a 7-year history of publishing details about planning issues via SMart articles in local newspapers – the City’s actual development has FAILED TO DELIVER on its own stated goals of increasing housing affordability, preserving the environment and our resources, and managing traffic and crime!

Why Change Is Needed Now

We have had essentially unchanged philosophical leadership for the past 40 years.  Over this period, our city has not become more livable, safer, cleaner or more vibrant.  In fact, our quality of life has only deteriorated.  This must not only stop, it must be reversed. If you are dissatisfied with the status quo, join me! With your support, I will prioritize our residents in creating ways to reclaim the seaside city we all love so dearly.

If you are willing to join my campaign and show up for us, I promise that I will show up for you, the residents and voters who have chosen to let me represent you and the City of Santa Monica.

Sincerely,

Mario Fonda-Bonardi