The Face of Malibu by Johanna Spinks

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Lou La Monte

Lou La Monte is currently serving his second term as Mayor of Malibu. With six years on the city council, the mayor has two more years of his term as council member. La Monte was born and raised in New York, but has called Malibu home for 25 years.

How did you end up in Malibu?

I make television commercials and that’s one of the reasons I wound up here. I was here looking for locations once and I was up near Rambla Pacifico. It was about 4:30 in the afternoon and the sun was just setting over the ocean. A couple was riding by on horseback and was silhouetted against the sun. I saw that and I said, “I’ve got to live here.” And here I am. 

What are your proudest accomplishments on the council and personally? 

That’s a hard question to answer. We’ve done an awful lot on the council. We’ve achieved a lot of things. I’m very proud of being able to work with my fellow council members on doing things like retiring land, working through the Civic Center Wastewater Treatment Project — that was a very difficult issue for all of us in Malibu, but we found a way to make it work for us. Those are some of the things I’m proud of. I’m proud of the fact that we did a landmark PCH safety study that will make it safer for people to drive on the PCH when we start implementing some of the things that are involved in it. There are a lot of things I’m proud of. Personally, I’m very proud of my family. We’ve got a long storied history in this town. (That includes his wife of more than 30 years, Laraine, and children; Olivia, 21, Christian, 28, and Rich, 50, who used to coach Malibu Little League.)

What do you miss about old Malibu? 

The old Malibu is something we all remember fondly. It was an easier time. There were a lot less people here. There was more of a small town feel, but that small town feel is still here in Malibu. I’ve always found that. You walk around, go into a store, you meet your neighbors, you have conversations — that’s one of the things I love about it. Everybody talks to each other. It doesn’t matter where you fall on certain issues; you’re still friends with the people and you are neighbors. I’ve always found it to be a very civil place and everybody gets along with everybody. Everything here has changed, but it’s evolved. The world changes. It’s hard to hold onto things from the past. I remember Coogie’s used to be a great little neighborhood restaurant and now it’s a nice higher end restaurant. It’s a different kind of a feeling, but the food is just as good as it was before.

What would you like to change about Malibu? 

The one thing that I’d like to change about Malibu is to try to take some of the land that we have and retire it from development — have plain, open space land. As you come toward City Hall, you see empty land on either side. I would love to keep it that way. The city just bought 35 acres at Trancas, we obviously bought 25 acres of Legacy Park, a swap is happening to get another 85 acres of Bluffs Park under the city’s domain. We’re working on it and ultimately we’re going to be successful. 

How was it having your portrait painted by Johanna Spinks? 

It was terrific, actually. In addition to being talented, Johanna is bright, personable, charming and she manages to keep you busy while she’s painting and you don’t even realize that you’re sitting for a portrait, except for the few times when she tells you to keep your head still. It was actually quite pleasant. It was a wonderful experience. She made me feel very comfortable. She’s very talented.

Mr. Mayor, I’ll leave you with the last word. Any closing statement? 

We are going to have an interesting future on the city council. We have three new council members and I’m sure we’re all going to work together to make Malibu a better place for everybody.