'Mr. Los Angeles,' former LA councilman Tom LaBonge dead at 67
LOS ANGELES - Former colleagues shared fond memories Friday of longtime Los Angeles City Councilman Tom LaBonge, who died Thursday at age 67.
LaBonge — known as Mr. Los Angeles for his knowledge of and love of the city —represented the Fourth District from 2001-15. The district includes Koreatown, Mid-Wilshire, the Miracle Mile, Fairfax District and much of Hollywood, Silver Lake, Los Feliz and Griffith Park.
Mayor Eric Garcetti, who represented the neighboring 13th District, said on Twitter: "We often said that while we shared a border, there was no dividing line between us, our work, and our districts.
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"From the revitalization of Hollywood to the preservation of Silver Lake, there was no better friend or partner I ever had.
"No one knew more Angelenos, no person gave more waking hours to our city, no one was a greater cheerleader for our town than Tom."
Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn served on the city council with LaBonge.
"Nobody loved this city more than Tom LaBonge and I don't know if anyone ever will," Hahn said on Twitter. "He was and will always be Mr. Los Angeles. May my dear friend Rest In Peace."
LaBonge was a city employee or councilman for nearly 40 years. He went to work for Councilwoman Peggy Stevenson of the 13th District in 1976, then joined Council President John Ferraro's Fourth Council District office in 1978.
LaBonge was also chief of field operations for then-Mayor Richard Riordan.
LaBonge's accomplishments in office included:
• expansion of Griffith Park by 500 acres;
• restoration and expansion of Griffith Observatory; and
• the Fallen Firefighter Memorial in Hollywood.
On June 30, 2015, his final day on the City Council, his colleagues designated the intersection of Tracy and St. George streets in front of John Marshall High School in Los Feliz as Tom LaBonge Square for his contributions to his alma mater.
LaBonge helped lead the efforts to save the school's Gothic main building, which was slated for demolition after the 1971 Sylmar earthquake.
He later worked with the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education and Los Angles County to fund and build the school's Mike Haynes Stadium & Hugh Boyd Field, which are used for football games and track meets.
LaBonge was known for his outsized personality, reflected in his deep knowledge of high school football teams, penchant for big hugs and love of classic Los Angeles institutions such as Pink's Hot Dogs along with his hands-on approach to serving constituents.
Councilman Paul Koretz once called LaBonge his ``role model for constituent services.''
LaBonge was also a big proponent of preparing for the next big earthquake, long before the push to seismically fortify the city's buildings and infrastructure.
After leaving the City Council because of term limits, LaBonge founded The LaBonge Consulting Group, which he described on his LinkedIn page as "an extension of my ability to create relationships and connect people with the common goal of fortifying the cultural ties of this great city."
CNS contributed to this report.