Ovrom in review
With Burbank City Manager Bud Ovrom preparing to take charge of the
Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency next month, people
citywide have been reflecting on his tenure.
After 17 years at Burbank’s helm, Ovrom was picked by the agency’s
board of directors from 50 candidates, and confirmed unanimously by
the L.A. City Council Tuesday. His last day in Burbank is Friday.
“We’re a really strong organization,” Ovrom said. “I’ll leave and
they won’t miss me for 10 seconds.”
Not according to Community Development Director Sue Georgino.
“I think what is sometimes lost on people is the fact that this is
a man that served the world as a member of the Peace Corps and then
went into local government, so I’ve always believed public service is
in his blood,” Georgino said. “[He] has parks and trails and
community facilities planned for decades. But still, come the first
of November, [he] e-mails me about cold-weather shelters for a
homeless person he saw on his way to the movies.”
Residents benefited from Ovrom’s leadership, which created
increased job opportunities, premiere city services and business
development that has built a tax base to support those services, said
Bill Wiggins, a Burbank Airport Commissioner and former mayor.
Ovrom has also worked to develop a city strategy, under the
direction of the City Council, for ensuring that the Burbank-
Glendale-Pasadena Airport “does not grow unconstrained and that there
are proper mitigations in place to protect the citizens,” Wiggins
Meanwhile, members of the business community said Ovrom welcomed
their companies to Burbank.
“He is one of the few city administrators who I’ve ever worked
with who is helpful in getting things done,” developer Ben Reiling
said. His company built the Empire Center on property formerly owned
by Lockheed Martin Corp., and in need of clean-up. Ovrom worked with
Reiling in a way that was never “adversarial” and was “more of a
cooperative” approach to problem solving, he said.
NBC Vice President of Facilities Jack O’Neill said Ovrom “will
give me advice when I need it, he will support me when I need it and
he will turn me down when it’s in the best interest of Burbank.”
Fond memories of Ovrom are not held by everyone. Former councilman
Ted McConkey said Ovrom was on the verge of being fired in 1995 when
his performance was being reviewed. Though McConkey supported
replacing Ovrom, the full council did not.
“There was a great sense in the community that development was
overwhelming us -- the traffic, the lack of neighborhood protection,
and the philosophy driven by Bud and others seemed to be that
neighborhoods could suffer as long as we got development,” McConkey
The former councilman also coauthored Measure A, a law approved by
voters and later struck down in court. The measure sought noise and
passenger limits at the airport.
“Bud was not, in my opinion, fighting hard enough for [flight]
curfews,” McConkey said. “He did change his attitude on the airport.
He became sensitized to neighborhood protection at the direction of
Ovrom is not one to hold a grudge, Assistant City Manager Mary
Alvord said. Though former mayor Bob Kramer was the other councilman
to spearhead Ovrom’s ouster, the two overcame their differences.
Ovrom hired Kramer as the city’s ombudsman February 2002.
“He could respect even those that would disagree with him,” Alvord
said. “He never let it get personal.”
The City Council, at its meeting Tuesday, appointed Alvord as
interim city manager until a replacement is hired. The council
members have not decided how or when they will hire a new city
manager. Options include promoting someone internally or conducting
an outside search.