Don the Beachcomber propieter dies at 79

Former Los Angeles City Councilman Arthur K. Snyder, a famously colorful figure who spent nearly two decades in office while contending with an array of personal, legal and political troubles, died Wednesday in Huntington Beach at the age of 79.

Snyder died in his sleep, according to Emerson Duque, a family friend. A cause of death has not yet been determined.

In recent years, Snyder had shifted away from the political world and became the proprietor of a Huntington Beach tiki lounge, Don the Beachcomber.

Snyder represented a swath of northeast Los Angeles neighborhoods from 1967 to 1985, only to see his career as a lobbyist marred by a campaign money-laundering scandal after he left office. Harvey Englander, a lobbyist who ran Snyder’s final council race, described him as “a character in the days when City Hall was filled with characters.”

“He was a red-haired, blue-eyed Irishman who spoke fluent Spanish and kept getting reelected even though his district became a mostly Latino district,” Englander said. “He was always back-slapping, always jovial, always making a deal.”

Snyder was born Nov. 10, 1932, in Los Angeles. He attended Los Angeles City College, Pepperdine University and USC. He tried without success to win a seat in the state Assembly in 1958 and got a job soon afterward as chief deputy to Councilman John C. Holland. After Holland retired from office, Snyder ran for the seat himself, winning in 1967. He was reelected four times.

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This story was reported by Times Staff Writers Kate Linthcum and David Zahniser.

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