La Monte Back on Top: Malibu’s New Mayor

Mayor La Monte is sworn into office by his wife, Laraine Gregory La Monte, at the Monday, July 11 city council meeting.

Lou La Monte was elected in a unanimous city council vote to succeed Laura Rosenthal as Mayor of Malibu during the council meeting on July 11. 

The vote came during a meeting notable for its number of discontented residents, most of whom came to speak about a city plan to remove encroachments in the Point Dume neighborhood, in an effort to allow for more parking and safer walkways along the sometimes packed streets.

Dozens of residents complained that the city was working without enough input from those living in the affected area, though the city sent out a survey to Point Dume residents.

La Monte addressed these complaints and other ongoing issues in Malibu during his brief remarks following his swearing in.

“I [would] like to help resolve this controversy that’s happening in Point Dume,” La Monte said, later adding, “I expect that we will have input from all of the residents in Point Dume. I also expect that we’re going to have a full, open and respectful discussion about it before we do anything else.”

As the new mayor, La Monte vowed to work on getting the drug and alcohol rehab overconcentration bill passed in Sacramento, focus on obtaining amenities for Malibu Bluffs Park and making Pacific Coast Highway safer. 

“The journey between being sworn in and being sworn out is very short here in Malibu,” La Monte said. He had previously served as Mayor from Aug. 2012 – May 2013. 

The rehab overconcentration bill, AB2403, would require the Department of Health Care Services to deny license applications to new facilities “if the proposed location is within 300 feet of an existing facility.” 

The bill was introduced in response to Malibu residents feeling neighborhoods had become overcrowded by rehabilitation facilities. It is authored by Assemblymember Richard Bloom of District 50, which includes Malibu. The bill stalled in the Assembly by the Appropriations Committee, which essentially killed it for this year.

Malibu Bluffs Park is a 93.75-acre park with the potential of various amenities such as bike trails, picnic areas, additional athletic fields, an amphitheater and developed baseball diamonds. 

Multiple designs for planned developments were presented before city council in Nov. 2015, and Malibu residents were able to vote on their preference of design in January, earlier this year. The council is expected to review and approve the final plan in September of this year.

La Monte’s promise of improving PCH’s safety could lead to implementing the 130 suggested improvements from the PCH Safety Study conducted last year on the highway. 

“Funding that safety study is incredibly important because there’s so many things in there that we need to hit on and we need to hit them sooner rather than later,” La Monte said.

The report includes suggestions such as bike lanes, raised medians, additional pedestrian crosswalks and designated underpasses. The suggestions and the report in its entirety received widespread praise when it was discussed in June of last year.

The safety of PCH is especially in question after the death of a pedestrian over the Fourth of July weekend.

“Even one fatality is unacceptable,” La Monte said.

With La Monte installed as mayor, Skylar Peak was unanimously voted to replace La Monte as mayor pro tem.

The meeting also concluded Rosenthal’s time as mayor. She began the meeting by sharing her thoughts on the current political climate in the country and how it applies to Malibu.

“While I would never in a million years compare Malibu to some of the very real and dangerous things going on in other parts of our country, I am reminded that it really all starts in our homes, in our neighborhoods, in our schools and in our communities,” Rosenthal said. 

Rosenthal’s mention of “dangerous things” could potentially refer to the multiple instances of black men being killed by police officers, followed by the Dallas, Tex. shooting where black men targeted and killed white police officers in retaliation. All of these events took place last week.

“While the tragedies that have happened in our country this week are of a completely different magnitude, they are partially reflective of a culture that condones and even promotes hateful and hurtful rhetoric,” Rosenthal said in her speech that was over five minutes, and focused primarily on keeping civility when disagreeing on issues.

“One of the issues I ran on — that both Lou and I ran on — was to bring back the civility and respect between council members and between the council and the public. If you look at the tone of our discussion up here, we respect each other,” Rosenthal said.