Los Angeles (May 26, 2021) Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) Board of Commissioners approved the renaming of two historically significant facilities to honor the late 4th District Councilmember and longtime LADWP supporter, Tom LaBonge on Tuesday, May 25, 2021. The board authorized renaming the Los Angeles Aqueduct Centennial Garden and Headworks Water Complex to The Tom LaBonge Aqueduct Centennial Gardens and the Tom LaBonge Headworks Water Complex, respectively.
There was no greater cheerleader for the city and its public servants than LaBonge, who was also a steadfast supporter of LADWP. Known affectionately as “Mr. Los Angeles,” LaBonge championed various critical water system projects on behalf of LADWP and its customers, recognizing the significant role water plays in our city. LaBonge was often quoted at LADWP public events by saying, “The two most important things in life are water and relationships.” We couldn’t agree more.
In 2013, LaBonge took part in the dedication ceremony of the new Aqueduct Centennial Gardens at the Mulholland Memorial Fountain in Los Feliz. LaBonge had a special place in his heart for Mulholland and his importance to the growth of Los Angeles. Featuring walking paths, park benches and drought tolerant landscaping, the garden at the Fountain grounds complements and enhances the Mulholland Fountain, a City of Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Landmark (No. 162), while highlighting the historic significance of Mulholland’s engineering achievement.
The Headworks Water Complex also held special meaning for LaBonge. In 2015, Councilmember LaBonge participated in a ribbon cutting ceremony for the completion of the East Reservoir project at the complex, which has the distinction of being the largest underground drinking water reservoir in the western United States. Headworks is located on a 43-acre site across from the north entrance to the councilmember’s much-beloved Griffith Park. Public open space at the reservoir complex will be designed by Frank Gehry and Associates and Olin on top of the reservoirs following their completion. The complex replaces the Silver Lake and Ivanhoe Reservoirs. In fact, the idea of moving the water storage from Silver Lake, then in the 4th District, to the Headworks site was born one afternoon in Councilmember LaBonge’s office as a solution to meeting the challenges of new water quality regulations.
“Tom LaBonge made his mark on the city and on many LADWP projects, including the Aqueduct Centennial Garden and the Headworks Reservoir Complex, that have come to be synonymous with the communities he served,” said LADWP Board of Water and Power President Cynthia McClain-Hill. “Having these facilities bear his name means generations of Angelenos and visitors will be reminded of the passion and dedication the late councilmember poured into public service and into the city he loved.”
In 1978, LaBonge began his public service career with Councilman John Ferraro. He then became an aide to Mayor Richard Riordan before being elected Councilmember representing the City’s 4th District. He also worked for a time at LADWP as Director of Community Relations.
“Councilmember Tom LaBonge loved LA’s history–and that included LADWP’s history–and reminded us all that we were writing its history everyday by the work that we do here,” said LADWP General Manager and Chief Engineer Martin Adams. “That’s why I can’t think of a more fitting tribute than for the department to honor Tom’s memory by renaming two of our most historically significant facilities in his honor. He will be sorely missed but his legacy lives on.”
“Councilmember LaBonge was there for so many of LADWP water system milestones, giving recognition for how the projects would enhance the lives of Angelenos and for staff performing the work behind the scenes,” said Sr. Assistant General Manager of the LADWP Water System, Richard Harasick. “He was truly a friend to the Department.”
The Tom LaBonge Los Angeles Aqueduct Centennial Garden and Tom LaBonge Headworks Water Complex will include the installation of new signage bearing the new name of the facilities.