When little old ladies were in danger of being evicted in Venice, he was there. When developers in Playa del Rey failed to go through proper procedures, he was there. It seems Bill Rosendahl, city councilman for the 11th District, is always there. The former cable television broadcaster, educator and social worker took office a little over a year ago and has been winning over many of his Westside constituents ever since. But some of his political peers have called him “anti-development.” It’s true “opposed” is a word you’ll often see attached to Rosendahl’s name when it comes to expansion projects. He opposed the RAD Sunset project, a developmental deal that would have turned an old Venice bus yard into a series of what he called “large monolithic structures too tall and too dense.” He claimed the buildings would be “out of character with the fabric of the community.” He opposed the expansion of the FBI Federal Building in West L.A., saying the building’s location was already in “Gridlock Central.” He opposed the expansion of LAX.
All this opposing makes locals in the 11th District like Rosendahl even more. They see him fighting to include them in big decisions, continually demanding community input in high-priced land deals. This year, Rosendahl set up what he calls an Empowerment Congress, made up of more than 200 of his Westside constituents. Members will help come up with ideas to tackle issues affecting their community — homelessness, mass transit, land use and education. Rosendahl says, “It was started as a way to get people to believe in democracy again, get the community involved.”
When he’s not in meetings he can be found holding office hours like a dutiful professor, lending an ear to anyone who has something to say. But he’s not perfect, he says. “My biggest flaw is my impatience, that and if I were 20 years younger, I’d work 20 more hours a day.”