The Face of Malibu is an ongoing public portrait project by portraitist Johanna Spinks to record the many unique personalities and newsmakers who shape the modern Malibu community. Each sitter is always painted in a single live sitting. If there is someone you would like to nominate, please email Emily Sawicki at firstname.lastname@example.org. To see more of Spinks’ portrait work, visit johannaspinks.com.
Arnold York may be publisher of The Malibu Times now, but he started out in a very different field. Graduating from UCLA’s School of Law in 1965, York spent 22 years as a Criminal and Civil Trial Litigator. He moved to Malibu in 1976 and purchased The Malibu Times in 1987, successfully running the local paper until this day.
York will be turning 80 in April, but is going stronger than ever. His secret is “to keep on moving.” He walks four miles every day and exercises three days a week. He has been involved in countless community activities, including being president of the Malibu Bar Association, Chair of the Malibu Business Roundtable, President of California Children’s Lobby, Chair of the American Heart Association in Malibu and many more. Married for 52 years to Karen Portugal York, they have three sons and three grandchildren.
The Malibu Times got a chance to sit down with the man who is also a qualified hard-hat, deep-sea diver.
How long have you been living in Malibu? Where did you live before and what brought you to Malibu?
We have been living here for 40 years. We lived in Beverlywood before coming here. My wife, Karen, came to Malibu to purchase furniture for our children. When she got here, she saw a house that she really liked. She brought me to see it and we bought the house.
When and where did you meet your wife?
I met her at UCLA. I was in law school and she was completing her undergrad. I was introduced to her by her then-boyfriend.
You have been married for 52 years. What is the secret to a successful marriage?
Every marriage goes through rough patches. You just have to remember that it will pass. A lot of people get divorced because they can’t make changes in life. They’re too stubborn. We’ve made changes. I made a really big lifestyle change going from law to journalism and my wife encouraged it. We always balanced life. When she was working and busy I would take care of the children and the house. And vice versa.
What inspired the change to go from practicing law to running The Malibu Times?
I always read newspapers and was a news junkie. I had no idea what to do. I was having dinner with a broker friend who told me that The Malibu Times was up for sale. Karen said, ‘Let’s buy it and we’ll sell it in a year.’ That was 29 years ago. I was practicing law but I was burned out. Litigating is warfare. It requires very long hours and it takes its toll on you and your family. I love the newspaper business. The best part is when the week is over you push everything off your desk and start a new one for next week.
How is The Malibu Times successful at a time when newspapers are disappearing?
Dailies have taken a hit. Weeklies are doing much better. They cover the local community. The audience for news has increased exponentially. Making money from it has decreased exponentially. There is a future for The Malibu Times. This community can sustain it. Other communities may not be able to.
Do you have any regrets in life?
I’m not the regretting type of person. There was a time I thought about going into politics. But it’s a 24/7 type of job. You can only live one life and people always have a bunch of things they want to try.
If you were to recommend one good book for everyone to read, which one would it be?
What are your thoughts on Donald Trump becoming President of the United States?
I’m not a Trump fan. He’s extreme and igniting so many wars he doesn’t realize it. We have to see how it all plays out.
What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in Malibu since you moved here?
The population is about the same. It’s gotten enormously upscale. It used to be relatively inexpensive to live here. You’d see schoolteachers moving here. Not anymore. Nowadays, houses on the beach are more than $20 million. Also the traffic. The entire Westside has much more traffic.
What would be one message you would give to the city council?
Take your time. There’s plenty of time to do what you want to do. Don’t rush it. You’re the council member, not your friends. Listen but create your own agenda.
How was it having your portrait painted by Johanna Spinks?
I never had my portrait painted before, so it was a new experience. Then you see it. You never know what you look like. She asked me if I have a good side. I don’t know.