Wave Wire Services
LOS ANGELES — The late City Councilman Tom LaBonge, who died last month at the age of 67, will be remembered after the city and the Board of Directors of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced last week they were naming places after the late civic leader.
The city will rename Mt. Hollywood Summit in Griffith Park as the Tom LaBonge Summit and the Wilshire/La Brea station on the Purple Line extension will be dedicated in his memory when it opens in 2023.
LaBonge, who served on the City Council for 14 years and spent most of his adult life as an ambassador for the city, died Jan. 7 at the age of 67.
Mayor Eric Garcetti said there is no better way to honor LaBonge than forever attaching his name “to his beloved Griffith Park, our crown jewel.”
LaBonge was known for his love of Griffith Park’s trails and hills, and he was frequently spotted hiking through the park. During his time in office, he expanded the park by 500 acres and was involved in the Griffith Observatory’s restoration and expansion.
“Our city lost a giant, a leader who brought so much energy, enthusiasm, decency, and passion to the task of building a stronger, safer, fairer city,” Garcetti said.
“Tom held such genuine affection for everyone he met and served, and he loved the beauty, diversity, and dynamism of Los Angeles — and there’s no better way to remember, honor, and cherish him than to forever attach his name to his beloved Griffith Park, our crown jewel.”
The summit, which is a 2.5-mile round trip from Griffith Observatory, offers spectacular views of the observatory, the surrounding hills, the Hollywood sign and downtown L.A.
The transit station will have signs marking it as “Wilshire/La Brea,” so that people know where they are when they arrive, but there will be additional signage marking the dedication to LaBonge, according to Garcetti, who is chair of the MTA board.
MTA board member and Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn said the tribute was fitting for LaBonge, whose enthusiasm for the city and seemingly endless knowledge of its history earned him the nickname “Mr. Los Angeles.”
“Nobody was more excited about transportation, about showing up for work, and it wasn’t just for residents of Los Angeles,” she said of LaBonge. “He was a big believer that all the international visitors that came to Los Angeles, he wanted them to have the exact same experience, he wanted them to love Los Angeles, he wanted them to show up at LAX and be able to navigate our public transportation system.”
Councilman Mike Bonin, who is also on the MTA board, agreed.
“Tom’s enthusiasm for transportation was absolutely unbridled, and I know because as chair of our transportation committee with him as a member on it, I often tried to bridle it,” he said.
“The only thing that could make [the dedication] more appropriate for Tom LaBonge is if you decided instead of Wilshire/La Brea, you actually put an underground stop at Griffith Park itself, that would be the ultimate Tom LaBonge move,” Bonin said.
LaBonge died at his home in Silver Lake, one of many neighborhoods he represented from 2001-15 as Los Angeles’ Fourth District councilman.
His family plans to hold a private memorial in the coming days, and a public gathering will be organized once it is safe, given the COVID-19 pandemic.
Those who wish to make a donation in LaBonge’s honor were asked to support the Tom LaBonge Memorial Fund For Griffith Park at www.laparksfoundation.org/donations/donate/.